The Broken-Down Car
Matthew Oswell could not get his car to start. After several unsuccessful attempts, Matthew accepted that he would be stuck in the small town of Newell, South Dakota, with his in-laws for a few more days.
Ever since he arrived for Christmas with his wife, Jessica, he had been wrestling with asking his father-in-law, Village Missionary Sean Carney, a question. With a year and a half of Bible college left, Matthew had several options for ministry in front of him after graduation. Not knowing which path to choose, he wanted Sean’s advice on a specific type of ministry.
Yet, he postponed his question time after time. With just a few days remaining before their car was fixed, he knew he was running out of opportunities.
Finally, realizing that God probably prolonged their visit for a reason, he walked up to Sean and asked: What if Jessica and I joined Village Missions?
Sean & Jani Carney knew Village Missions churches long before they became missionaries.In Dalkena, Village Missionary Mike Close encouraged the Carneys to join the ACT Program (Apprentice Church Training Program). The ACT Program served as a forerunner of Contenders Discipleship Initiative (CDI).
Initially uncertain, Sean & Jani received encouragement from new Executive Director, Brian Wechsler. Brian had come down to celebrate the church’s 50th Anniversary in 2001. After watching Sean lead music, Brian approached him and said, “So, have you ever thought about joining Village Missions?”
Sean responded, “I think I need some more tractor time!” (Which is code for “Let me pray about that!”)
After a year of prayer and careful reflection (tractor time!), the Carneys decided to journey down the path to Village Missions.
They participated in the ACT Program from 2002 – 2005 under the mentorship of Pastor Mike.
Upon completion, Sean & Jani, along with their two daughters, moved to their first field: Newell, South Dakota.
In 2016, the Carneys moved to their second field in Four Lakes, Washington. And while each of their fields have proven to be very different from each other, their heartbeat for forgotten places remains the same.
“We both have a heart for rural America,” says Jani. “We love that VM helps keep rural churches open and a gospel presence in their communities.”
And now they get to watch their daughter Jessica and son-in-law Matthew be a part of the Village Missions legacy, too!
Although she grew up in VM churches, Jessica never considered becoming a Village Missionary when she was a young adult. As she says, most high school students have other things on their minds!She went on to attend Montana Bible College (MBC), where she met fellow student Matthew Oswell. When Matthew informed her that he might attend Bible College in Los Angeles, Jessica thought there was no way their relationship would work. However, one visit to that metro area ended that idea very quickly!
Then, they worked as counselors for a camp in Alaska during the summers. In addition, they served in the same college group at their church, and Jessica and Matthew got to know each other more.
When they got married in December of 2011, Matthew started to see a different kind of ministry through Jessica’s family: Village Missions.
Not familiar with VM whatsoever, Matthew witnessed firsthand how his new in-laws, Sean & Jani, served as missionaries in the context of a rural community.
Then their car broke down in Newell during Christmas. Matthew finally had the perfect opportunity to ask Sean how he and Jessica might fit into the Village Missions story.
“I don’t think we would have joined Village Missions if our car had not broken down!” Matthew remembers.
And thus, their journey with Village Missions began!
Finally, in December of 2015, the Oswells joined Village Missions. They have been serving at Skokomish Community Church ever since.
A Family Legacy
Each Village Missions church tells a unique story. God is using the Carney & Oswell family legacy to write these churches’ stories of grace and faithfulness.
You can play a part in the story that God writes in rural North America! You can help prepare future Village Missionaries to go out and faithfully proclaim the gospel in unremembered places, like Four Lakes and Skokomish.
Would partner with us in bringing the hope of the gospel to the forgotten people of North America?
“Although we are a small part of the story, our family gets to be a part of the Village Missions legacy.”
The Carney & Oswell families