How long have you worked for CE National/Momentum Ministry Partners?

At the end of September 2022, I completed 29 years of working here.  

Tell us a little about yourself!

Most of my later childhood was spent in Winona Lake, Indiana. My dad (Bill Smith) was in ministry as a traveling evangelist and pastor for my early years, so we moved frequently until we settled in Indiana. I attended Grace College, where I met my husband, Dave, and we started our married life in Pennsylvania, where Dave was the youth pastor at Myerstown Grace Brethren Church and I taught English at Grace Christian School. After 13 years of ministry there, we moved back to Winona Lake and Dave became the youth pastor and music minister at Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church. Dave continues to be on staff there in the role of Pastor of Community Impact, as well as serving (not sure of Dave’s new title) at Momentum Youth Conference. We have two adult daughters, Ashton (married to Andrew and living in Canada) & Abby, and two adorable granddaughters, Winona & Adelina.  

How did it come about that you started working at Momentum? 

When Dave and I first moved to Indiana in the winter, I was looking for something part-time in teaching and nothing was really opening up at that time of year. Chery Otermat was overseeing Operation Barnabas at that time and contacted me about coming on staff at CE National as her assistant with OB. I was excited about the challenge of working with high school students in a different way, so I jumped on the opportunity and I’m so glad I did!  

What were your first responsibilities with this job and how did that grow over the years? 

Most of what I did in the early years was clerical – facilitating the OB application process and all the clerical aspects of communicating with accepted students and parents, getting them ready for the OB summer tour. Back then, though, most everything was done with typewriters, phone calls, and snail mail! 

My main role has always been working with the students and parents, but when Timothy Kurtaneck (TK) became the Director of Operation Barnabas, my role continued to expand with more hands-on involvement in recruiting, teaching, and discipleship, as well as continuing to onboard students and help them prepare for their summer ministry. 

These last several years, working with Eric Miller and Tim Lansing, we have had a more team-style approach, and I have enjoyed being a part of every aspect of the ministry, including leadership training, itinerary, and budgeting, as well as all the above!  

What have been some of the most rewarding aspects of this job? 

Seeing students who have used their training and time on OB/Travel Teams as a catalyst to future ministry, whether that is vocational ministry or being an active Christian in the marketplace, is very rewarding. For most students, these summer ministry teams bring them to a definitive crossroads in their spiritual lives, and witnessing that life change and then seeing it continue through the years is the best!

What have you learned about ministry? About yourself? 

Working with Ed Lewis for many years was such a blessing – his enthusiasm for evangelism and sharing Christ was a real game changer for me in how I view people and the opportunities that come across my path to share the gospel. I have also learned the importance of mentoring and pouring into younger leaders. I find that I am most fulfilled when I can be a part of spiritually impacting someone else’s walk with Jesus.  

How many students have you helped send on Travel Teams? 

There have been about 85 individual teams that have gone out since I started here in 1993, with about 2000 students participating.  

Any stories stand out in a meaningful way?  

There have been so many times I have seen God work in miraculous ways: 

  • Providing transportation when having bus issues so we did not miss any scheduled ministry
  • Clearing the rain for just enough time to do our outdoor program, when it rained hard before and after
  • Protecting students and providing wise medical help when weird medical issues like spider bites and hookworm happen
  • Answering prayer and seeing people respond by deciding to follow Jesus

And having the opportunity to see both of my daughters as students on their teams and how God worked in their lives thru their adult leaders and the ministry opportunities was pure joy! 

What does the next chapter look like for you? 

I may be “retiring” from vocational ministry, but I will continue to serve in our church with the women’s ministry and mentor younger women in our church. Both of my parents are still living, which is amazing at 96 & 93 years of age, so I will have more time to help them as needed. I also hope to escape at least part of these cold Indiana winters with some time down south. And, of course, I am excited to have more time to spend with my granddaughters!  

Anything else you want to add? 

Being a part of CE National/Momentum Ministry Partners has been awesome; from all the staff I’ve worked with, the young adult team leaders I have seen rise up and serve, and the students who have truly been impacted for the kingdom, I have been truly blessed. I thank the Lord that He has allowed me to be a part of such a life-changing ministry!