Growing up in a Christian family, Stephan Schmidt knew who God was but struggled to experience God’s work in his own life. And so, he turned away from God.
After his brother-in-law was in a bad accident, Stephan decided to strike a deal: if God healed his brother-in-law then he would return to the Lord. During this time, Stephan’s wife, Christiane was praying for her husband to live for God again. Miraculously, his brother-in-law was healed. There was no turning back for Stephan this time; he saw God’s love for him through the healing of his brother-in-law.
Things changed in the Schmidt house; the biggest being that they started to pray together as a family. It was during this time that Stephan felt God telling him to move his family from Germany to somewhere in Africa. “Stephan and I decided to pray separately so that we could individually hear from God if we should go to Africa as a family,” Christiane said. The idea of moving her whole life and family to Africa was hard for Christine, but through prayer, it became easier every day.
In 2012 the family moved to South Africa to attend Missions Discipleship Training (MDT) in Pretoria. While they did MDT, they were introduced to Lesotho—a small country within the country of South Africa—where they did an outreach.
After MDT, the Schmidts stayed for six years in South Africa serving at the OM office in Pretoria. During this time, they were able to build new relationships and find a home church. They knew that God had called them to Africa, but were unsure where God was going to use them.
It started to become clear that they should move to Lesotho as a family and serve the Basotho people. They moved to a small village on the South African side of the border to start searching for a house as well as get involved in the daily ministry. Driving in and out of Lesotho was not only exhausting and expensive but meant that the family didn’t have as much time to start relationships and build trust with the local people as they wanted. It was evident that God had already started the work in the people’s hearts—the Lesotho people were ready to receive the good news of Jesus.
God answered their prayers and gave them a house to rent in Malefioane. Full of joy and hope, they went to view the place and found a small two-room house without any basic amenities. For a family of five, this seemed to be a huge challenge. There was no bathroom nor living room and the water would need to be fetched from a nearby river. How would they keep warm during the snowy winters in the mountains of Lesotho? Christiane was also concerned about their furniture; where would everything fit? But the view from the house was what Stephan noticed—the same view God had shown him in a dream. With peace in their hearts and trusting He would help make it all work, the Schmidts moved in.
Light in the darkness
Since the move, the Schmidts have experienced challenges. “Cultural challenges would be the least on my list,” Stephan said, explaining they have encountered major spiritual challenges—particularly witchcraft.
One day a lady came to their house and gave them a gift for their home. Then the whole family became sick. When they prayed for healing, God used a team member to ask them to remove the gift from the house and burn it, which they did. The next day, they were all healed in Jesus’ name. God has turned these kinds of challenges into opportunities for joy and to reveal His glory.
The Schmidt family enjoys sharing Christ’s love to the people of Malefioane not only with words and actions but also in their daily submission to God’s Word. Lesotho is ripe with opportunities to bring light into the spiritual darkness and show the love of God in many practical ways such as children programmes, short-term outreaches to minister to remote areas and Question and Answer sessions about the word of God. Schmidt’s main focus is to make disciples who will make disciples.
The Schmidt’s try to help by giving their time, finances and an ear to listen. They live with the people; fetching water and cooking on the fire just like the locals and have adapted to the culture.
Often the family is asked: “how are you surviving?” “It becomes very difficult to answer that question because the life we have now is way better than before,” said Christiane.
The Schmidts do not know how to explain it to people back home in Germany; the experiences on this journey with God to—and in—Lesotho have been far more valuable to them than all the comforts of the world. Living in Lesotho has also made them realise that they don’t need more ‘stuff.' To follow God wholeheartedly has become an adventure that the Schmidt family would not want to miss out on.