A young boy in Savannah, Georgia joined with his church family in 1968 to raise money for that year’s YWEA project, a Bible college in Indonesia. Tommy Smith could not have known then that he was funding his future. He didn’t know he would grow up and live on the campus of that very Bible college while he and his family served as Church of God missionaries.
Tommy was called to missions in college, but his journey to Indonesia began when he was taking a class at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary. There were several Indonesian students in the course. They had money; he had a car. Together they would travel to Chattanooga to eat, developing a friendship that led to the students asking Tommy to come to their country.
He was approved by Church of God World Missions to go for six months, but he had to raise $11,000—a daunting task for someone without many resources or connections. However, he prayed and fasted and knew God was telling him to go. Miraculously, the money was all raised, and in 1983 Tommy Smith traveled to Indonesia, met his wife, and knew he was where he was supposed to be for the rest of his life.
Now Tommy and Poppi Smith lead one of the most exciting ministries in World Missions. In a country of great spiritual darkness, they are exalting Christ and seeing transformation that could only come from God.
They take a five-pronged approach to ministry:
Evangelism – Penetrating the darkness with the gospel light
The primary goal of the Smiths’ ministry is to win people to Jesus. Tommy learned the Indonesian language early in his ministry there, and has been preaching ever since. He is gifted in evangelism and has traveled the country and the world, preaching and translating. Untold thousands have been brought to the Lord through their ministry.
Leadership Development – Preparing disciples to fulfill the Great Commission
Through partnership with John Maxwell’s organization, Tommy and Poppi have hosted 39 conferences that have trained over 125,000 leaders. By raising up leaders, the Smiths believe the Great Commission can be completed in our generation.
Benevolence – Pulling down the strongholds of poverty
Through Poppi’s Kitchen, the Smiths seek to introduce children to Jesus during the crucial 4-14 (years old) window. They aim to break poverty through three chords – the heart (salvation), the head (education), and the stomach (nutrition). As such, they feed hundreds of children and are now beginning to operate kindergartens.
Each year they host a Christmas party for over 2,000 children. The gospel is preached in an age appropriate manner, and then the children are given gifts and snacks.
They also build churches in the small villages that comprise much of Indonesia. $10,000 can build a nice church for believers who otherwise would have no place to worship. So far, Tommy and Poppi’s ministry has built six.
Ministerial Enrichment – Providing resources for pastors and workers
Tommy and Poppi have provided at least 500 copies of the Bible in the Indonesian language to those who did not have one. They diligently work to see that physical needs are met. They also consider themselves a resource, as they give through their ministry to teach and encourage the ministers in Indonesia.
Kingdom Partnerships – Partnering with Kingdom-minded believers in reaping a last day’s global harvest.
By partnering with others, Tommy and Poppi have expanded their ministry’s reach beyond just Indonesia. “The great commission is too vast for any one organization to do themselves, and too important to do alone,” Tommy said.
Through their vast-reaching ministry, Tommy and Poppi are truly touching the world. Their story speaks to the impact a person can have when they obey the call to go.
Reflecting on preparing for his initial trip to Indonesia, Tommy said, “I told God, ‘I’m going to be obedient and go. How long I stay is up to you.’ I’ve been there now 36 years.”
If you would like to partner with Tommy and Poppi Smith in ministry, please visit the project link below.