Laban Ministries International

December 2019


Christmas 2019

Pastor Mboma’s recent email dated October 28, 2019...

It is a pleasure to tell you that we came back from evangelism at Mukulumbisi. All pastors, students at Laban Bible Institute, musicians, some of our cooks, and our people working with the truck joined the campaign.  On Friday, October 25, before we moved to Mukulumbisi, Mitelesi, one of our students decided to be baptized. This was done in the lake at Nkara Ewa. The same night about 525 people participated in the campaign. Pastor Kilasi (pastor of the church at Nstiangobo, lab tech, Radio Glory announcer, and professor at Laban Bible Institute) taught and 95 people professed Christ. Then the film of Esther was shown.

The following day, on Saturday morning, Evangelism Explosion was given house to house or hut to hut by the students under the supervision of Pastor Richard (professor at Laban Bible Institute, radio announcer on Radio Glory, driver, and pastor of the church at Nkara-Ewa).  Then came the ceremony of baptism by Pastor Richard and Pastor Kifwanga, the pastor of the church of the village of Mbila, who also came along on the campaign. Saturday afternoon 546 people gathered in prayer and then heard the preaching of Pastor Isaac (pastor of Yangalala [rejoicing] Church in the village of Nkara. This crowd came from different villages, and 76 of them made professions of faith.  

Other activities Saturday afternoon included training of leadership in the new churches by Pastor Richard, ministry to the women by Mrs. Mbo Tabala, whose husband is a member of the church at Mukulumbisi as well as Mama Elise, graduate of Laban Bible Institute, widow to Pastor Kilundu who was on staff with LMI for decades, and a midwife at our dispensary).  

Sunday included Sunday school headed up by Pastor Mupiya (assistant pastor at Yangalala Church). All surrounding churches were invited to attend the morning service, and 457 people came to church, 26 of whom dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ that day, followed by the Lord’s Supper administered by Pastor Kilasi. After this came the presentation of two new pastors: Magellan, the pastor of Mukulumbisi, and Jeremie, the pastor of Ngamba.

The general impression was excellent. People are hungry for the Word of God. The chief of Mukulumbisi was one of the people who actually saw Dr. Laban Smith baptized in Lake Ewa during 1950-1951. Some other chiefs came to beg Laban Ministries to plant churches in their villages.  These chiefs came from five surrounding villages along with their elders to discuss this matter with us. The lack of supply of pastors is very real. That is why the Laban Bible Institute is so very important.  

Thank you so much, brothers and sisters from the USA for sending us money for fuel, food, and evangelism. May God bless you all.  

-Pastor Mboma


Christmas is just around the corner, and we want to make it great for our staff in Congo. Capable men and women in addition to the ones you just read about in the above report include nurses, Bible institute professors/pastors/radio announcers, masons, carpenters, animal care-takers for our sustainability arm of ministry, lab tech, instructors in the Women’s Literacy School, guards of Radio Glory, mission homes, Laban Bible Institute, and mission properties are anticipating a blessed holiday season just as you are. Would you like to provide a dream package of $300 for a family or two, which includes fresh beef, rice, bread, beans, their staple of luku, greens, a coke for each one in the family, and money for gifts for the children? The evangelism report is indicative of the kind of people who serve Christ with us in Congo—brave, valiant, sacrificial in nature, and passionate about Christ.  

Thank you for your consideration and amazing support of this work which is now entering its 82nd year!

Servants of the Living Christ,

Jim and Nancy Smith


Upcoming events

  • January-February 2020 - Trip to Congo - Pastor’s Conference

  • October 1, 2020 - Benefit Dinner - Canton, Michigan


Laban Ministries International

P.O. Box 1712

Columbia, TN 38402

Phone: 313-516-4883             


Like us on FB @LabanMinistries

Support Laban Ministries while you shop on Amazon



Laban Ministries International

November 2019


Laban’s last newsletter announced the Pastors’ Conference scheduled for February 2020 and

the opportunity to provide a scholarship for $35 per pastor. I would like to expand on the

significance of this event. In addition to a return to their Alma Mater for an immersion in

scriptures, prayer, encouragement, and receiving some supplies; the returning graduates will

be participating in a joyous HOMECOMING - a homecoming for them as they return to their

place of initial education and training but also a homecoming of people very special to them –

the Smiths. Some of Laban’s long-term supporters may remember reports and videos of

exuberant celebrations of past arrivals:

  • Jim’s return after a near fatal accident on the road to Kinshasa and his recovery from

the serious closed-head injury

  • Jack’s first return since adolescence and his announcement of the third generation of

Smith leadership

  • Jim’s return after recovering from Leukemia treatment

The joyful celebration of those returns will be matched or exceeded when they learn of the

homecoming of Jim, Nancy, AND Jack. It is very significant to the Congolese that Jim’s

parents - Laban & Marcella - are buried in the Congo and the fact that Jim & Jack were both

born there. The many years of the Smith family’s faithfulness to God & the Congolese people

is deeply respected and honored by all who have benefited from their ministry.

Jim & Nancy and Jack are also unique authority figures to the Congolese. The authority

structure in their culture is mainly with the village & tribe and ultimately resides with the

Chiefs. Along with the many exciting & positive reports the Smiths will hear of God’s work in

the Graduates’ ministries & lives, they will also be bringing reports of challenges and issues

to their Laban Family “Chiefs”. This is a wonderful opportunity to give counsel and resolve

issues but will be very draining emotionally.

While we plan to make this event as meaningful, educational, and uplifting as possible for the

returning graduate pastors, the team will gain valuable insight into the current needs of the

Congolese people in general and the LMI family in particular. We are praying for wisdom and

guidance from the Holy Spirit to learn His priorities and focus for the ministry.


Please pray that:

  • Laban will have the RESOURCES needed to make this event as meaningful and

productive as possible

  • There will be SAFE TRAVEL for the returning graduates (many travelling days on foot)

and for the leadership team

  • The EDIFICATION & ENCOURAGEMENT of the returning graduates (most of whom are

Pastors in very remote locations) will be as effective as possible

  • INSIGHT will be gained on how LMI can best continue to meet the SPIRITUAL needs of

the Congolese people

  • The Leadership Team will have STAMINA. 

    • Please pray for their:

o Endurance PHYSICALLY


o Wisdom & Insight SPIRITUALLY


Thank you so much for your support of Laban Ministries International


  • Board Chairman

  Jerry Hubbell


Upcoming events

  • January-February 2020 - Trip to Congo - Pastor’s Conference

  • October 1, 2020 - Benefit Dinner - Canton, Michigan


Laban Ministries International

P.O. Box 1712

Columbia, TN 38402

Phone: 313-516-4883             



Like us on FB @LabanMinistries


Support Laban Ministries while you shop on Amazon



Laban Ministries International

October 2019


*$35 Scholarships Needed for Pastors’ Conference 2020*


Prayer Warriors,

We are so grateful to have you praying for us all at Laban Ministries! As many of you know, Laban Bible Institute is in the forefront of the work in Congo, and many of its graduates need a time of renewal and refreshment. So...we are planning to go back in January of 2020 to hold a Pastors’ Conference at Nkara, and it is very possible that hundreds of our graduates will return for that conference.

In the past, some have walked for a week in order to attend. This time we would like to be able to meet them at some point to help them save their strength for the time of special emersion in the Scriptures each day, feedback, prayer, and testimonials at night, followed by a Christian movie outside on the big screen (a king sized bed sheet of course). They will be provided with three meals a day, which is more than they get at home. Breakfast will be a baguette with coffee, cream and sugar. Lunch will consist of luku and saka saka or boiled manioc root and greens or rice and beans.  Supper will include dried fish or makayabu, beef or pork and the silk-worm, which is considered a delicacy and a great source of protein in our area. Sides will include peanuts, bread, bananas, and other fruits. They will sleep on mbanzi, which is a forest-grown, balsa-like plant made into mats, which we must purchase. Each graduate will be given notebooks, pens, pencils, paper, a bar of soap to bathe with, a bar of soap for washing their clothes while there, and a gift of $10 when they leave so they can buy a little something for their wives on the way home.  

Some of the topics we are considering are Romans, Revelation, Christian Family Living, Psalm 34, the Treatment of Widows in Congo, and Malachi.  

Imagine that you are a pastor in the bush of Africa, perhaps in a large city or village or perhaps in a remote, far away spot where no one can get to by car, not even by motorcycle. But the calling of God on your life is real and strong, unavoidable in fact, and so you have dedicated yourself to preaching the Gospel and teaching the Word of God. Satan will throw the book at you, discourage you, accuse you of being worthless, devalue you, and you will experience enough testing and sifting to make you want to throw in the towel. Many of our men feel this way at one time or another. Some have gone months without any real encouragement from a fellow alumnus. They can end up feeling weak and powerless. Some have become ill. But for most, there is no stopping them! Well, we would like to bring them back to their alma mater for about a week of renewed hope and blessings galore. They need to be fed physically and spiritually after pouring themselves out week after week in the local church.  

Here’s where you come in. Will you help provide this time of spiritual renewal for our graduates? We need fuel for transport, fuel to run the generators, fuel to get food in Kikwit, 60 miles away, funds to buy supplies for them so they can take notes. They’ll need flashlights, flashlight batteries, utensils for eating, plates, pots for cooking, cups, serving dishes, mats for sleeping and a small monetary gift to send them home with.  

Let’s just break all that down and say that $35 will provide a scholarship for one pastor. How many pastors would you like to sponsor for that very reasonable amount?  

In years past, they have gone away with their hearts filled to the brim. They have begged us to have another conference. IT IS TIME! Help make this happen by designating your gift for a scholarship for the February 2020 Pastors’ Conference so they can come apart and rest a while as Jesus told all of us to do.  

Thank you so much,

  • Jim and Nancy Smith



Upcoming events

  • Ladies Tea - October 12th @ 1PM

First Presbyterian Church, Trenton, MI 

Visit for 


  • Greatest Showman Show Tunes Live on November 17th, 2019 in Columbia, TN

  • January-February 2020 - Trip to Congo


Laban Ministries International

P.O. Box 1712

Columbia, TN 38402

Phone: 313-516-4883             Email:


Like us on FB @LabanMinistries


Support Laban Ministries while you shop on Amazon



Laban Ministries International

September 2019


Hundreds of miles in the bush of Congo, Africa, also known as the interior, are situated 247 acres of soil, where once darkness reigned, multiple drownings took place at Lake Ewa due to clan disputes, and cannibalism was celebrated.  The Bayanzi Tribe believed that blood sacrifice was necessary to please their ancestral spirits and call down blessings on their crops and families. So…they offered their baby girls and boys and sometimes teenage sons of village chiefs, considered royalty, to accomplish this.  The baby was laid on hot coals, of course screaming in pain—the louder the better—to ensure the hearing of the spirits. Someone then cut up the infant, and she or he was eaten by witch doctors. When an older boy was sacrificed, he was given palm nut beer from the palm tree to make him drunk and then killed, usually by clubbing.  He was butchered and consumed in memory of a famous chief, resulting in a royal sacrifice. This unthinkable evil was accompanied by dancing, revelry, and festivities, such as partaking of the flesh. These are the roots of Nkara-Ewa where we serve. This was the satanic legacy left to the Bayanzi tribe for we really don’t know how long, perhaps as many as 200 years.

In 1947, Chief Kuma Kuma of the village of Longo, near Nkara, was imprisoned hundreds of miles away for trying to intervene in the vile acts of local government officials against the women of that area. Word came to him that a missionary by the name of Dr. Laban Smith was preaching some 68 miles away from the mission.  Incredibly, this missionary dentist was claiming that God gave His Son, Jesus Christ, for the sins of the world, including the Bayanzis. This was revolutionary, meaning that they no longer as a tribe had to offer up the souls and bodies of their own people for their sins! Kuma Kuma sent word to call on Dr. Smith. Seven of his men traveled on foot the 68 miles to Iwungu to ask Dr. Smith to come tell their people about the supreme blood sacrifice of Jesus.

Thus came the Bayanzi grace awakening from 1947-1953, during which time thousands in this tribe made professions of faith and were baptized.  Today, the satanic legacy has been reversed. On that same acreage stands Laban Bible Institute, a lighthouse to the area, training men and women in the life-giving scriptures to serve the church, pastor the church, and evangelize their own people.  Seven hundred have graduated since 1984, and hundreds of churches have been planted throughout the Bandundu Province.  

We would like to introduce to you Pastor Ebobo, a graduate of LBI, faithfully serving the Lord as Dean of Evangelism at LBI.  By way of introduction, here is an interview with him held recently over the phone.  

Me:  Where were you born?

Ebobo:  At Mateko, 120 miles from Nkara.

Me:  What was your early life like?

Ebobo:  God put music in my heart as a young child.  Wherever there was music, I had to be in the center of it. 

Me:  What was your salvation experience like?

Ebobo:  In 2005, Pastors Toy, Mbuku, Kilundu, and Victor came from LBI to hold a crusade at the village of Kalo.  It was the very first time I heard the Gospel, and I responded and asked Jesus Christ to be my Savior. After the meetings, the pastors challenged me to come for training at LBI.  I had no money but my carpentry skills enabled me to make and sell beds to pay my tuition.

Me:  How did you meet your wife?

Ebobo:  I met Vero at Nkara.  She was helping an elderly widow, whose husband had worked with Dr. Smith as well as Jim Smith.  My mother came to visit and observed Vero’s ways, kindness, and character and thought she would be a great wife for me.  We were married after I graduated and now have 4 children, 2 girls and 2 boys.

Me:  What is the most important thing that you walked away with after your training at LBI?

Ebobo:  The vastness and greatness of the Word of God.   It has totally transformed my life. I love to read it and have grasped a better understanding of it as a result of my training.  It enables me to lead others to Christ!

Me:  What is your greatest joy in life?

Ebobo:  My greatest joy is to work for Jesus.

Me:  What is your greatest sorrow?

Ebobo:  I really have no great sorrow.  The hardest and most difficult challenge is taking care of my family in this country of Congo.

Me:  Any closing remarks?

Ebobo:  I am hungry to do evangelism, to see people come to Christ!


Romans 1:16  "For I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…”


The gospel overturned and overpowered the previous legacy of darkness, evil, vile sin, and total shame, and Pastor Ebobo is one of the fruits of your labor!  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your partnership in ministry!


Jim and Nancy Smith


Urgent Prayer Request: Please pray that measles vaccines and a team to inoculate the children of our staff as well as other children in our area will arrive soon at the local clinic.  There is a measles epidemic, and children are dying from this disease.  


Upcoming events

  • Selah concert in Ashland, OH - September 13th

  • Ladies Tea - October 12th @ 1PM

First Presbyterian Church, Trenton, MI 

Visit for tickets!


Laban Ministries International

P.O. Box 1712

Columbia, TN 38402


Support Laban Ministries while you shop on Amazon


Laban Ministries International

August 2019


Wonderful news to share with you from the Congo!

Evangelism and training men and women at Laban Bible Institute has always been the heart of this ministry. Just today we received wonderful news from Pastor Mboma regarding the most recent evangelistic outreach in the bush of Congo. Here are the results in Pastor Mboma’s own words: 

This past weekend our evangelism team traveled to the Bapindi people, a tribe that may disappear in the future because the elderly are dying off, and the new generation is more interested in speaking the Kituba language rather than the Kipindi language. There is no documentation of Kipindi. The chief of the group of villages in that area acknowledged that Mr. Jim and Mama Nancy visited Mubungi some years back but were disappointed that at the time they could not meet them because they were in the deep, deep forest. They were very kind and friendly.  

There is one graduate of Laban Bible Institute who preaches and teaches in nine different Bapindi villages! Therefore, we felt it was very important to recruit young men from this area to come to our school and receive training so that they may become pastors to their own people. We praise the Lord to remember these forgotten people.

May you please continue to help us with fuel, oil, gas, food, and funds to fulfill the great commission to make disciples in the Bapindi Tribe?

Thanks to the churches in the USA who helped to make this crusade possible!

  • Pastor Mboma

Here are the results of this evangelistic outreach:

July 24, 25 - Village of Kiwungu - Text was Ephesians 2:8, 9 - Saved by grace - Films shown were The Passion and Esther - Attenders: 700 - Professions: 250. Brother David decided to attend Laban Bible Institute next Fall.

July 26, 27 - Village of Ngumba - Joshua 24:14,15 - Choose to serve the living God - Films shown were The Passion and Esther - Attenders: 800 - Professions: 300. Seven people requested to be baptized - Four families brought their children to be dedicated to Christ.

July 27 - Villages of Mubungi and Manzanza - Text was Luke 7:11-15 - Do not cry - Films shown were The Passion and Esther - Attenders: 500 - Professions: 152.

Three women were baptized. The Lord’s Supper was organized on behalf of the new converts. Two children were dedicated to Christ.  

Praise God for this incredible work of the Holy Spirit. “He who wins souls is wise.” You were represented on this evangelistic endeavor! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support.  


Servants of Christ,

Jim and Nancy Smith


Laban Ministries International

P.O. Box 1712

Columbia, TN 38401


Facebook: @Laban Ministries

(313) 516-4881


Support Laban Ministries while you shop on Amazon



Laban Ministries International

July 2019


Dear Friends  - More history  - My last day with my father, Dr. Laban Smith


January 24,1953: We had all gathered in what we affectionately now call the White House breakfast nook at Nkara-Ewa, DRC, Congo. The Shannons were with us, missionaries from several hundred miles away at Kajiji, a mission station that Dad and Mr. Zook had started in 1939.  Mrs. Shannon was a nurse and had come to have work done on her teeth by my dad, an oral surgeon. As we sat around the table, Dad—with a smile on his face and great energy—exclaimed strongly that he felt so good and was thankful to the Lord. Between malaria, some heart issues, with all the hard work on the new home he was completing (the home we now live in when in Congo), evangelism trips, baptismal services, plus counseling with every baptismal candidate, he could run out of strength. About 1,200 were waiting to be baptized.  However, today he was feeling great!

The carpenters and masons were waiting for him, ready to begin another day’s work on the new home. The tin roof was on. It was a 3-story, cement block building, an incredible edifice with its large, arched porches downstairs and up. The second floor had steel rebars covering the whole floor, with wooden planks under the rebars. Cement was poured until the rebars were covered. So solid and strong. On this day, supporting trusses were to be added to the attic on the third floor.  

Our African friends had told my brother, Jack, and me that there was a tree near the dispensary that had ripe, delicious fruit. So, Jack, Jack Shannon, Ralph Shannon, and I ran to the valley and spotted the tree. To us, that was like going to the candy store. We filled our pockets with the fruit and crossed  a small stream via a 20-foot fallen tree trunk and, as I was about to get on the fallen trunk, a teen aged national came running to the other end of the trunk and yelled to my brother and me that our dad had fallen and “he can’t get up and is bleeding.” Jack and Ralph took off running and beat me to the new house.  When I arrived at the house and started up the stairway, I was met by my brother coming down the stairs crying very hard. “He’s bleeding and lying on the cement floor of the porch, where he fell," Jack said. Of course, my heart was pounding as if it were going to come out of my chest. My dad was so strong. I didn’t know this man. As I ran on to the porch, I could see Dad on his back.  His mouth was bleeding. Mrs. Shannon was there, and my mother was holding his head in her lap. The national nurse, Pierre, stood there not knowing what to do. No one knew what to do. Dad was not responding to their questions.  

Then the decision had to be made—how could Dr. Smith be taken to the nearest hospital in Kikwit, 60 miles away? Originally, they wanted to take him to the medical mission station of Vanga, but it required crossing the large Kwilu River on a ferry, which may or may not be working. Mr. Shannon had a fairly large pick up truck, so he immediately left for Iwungu, also 60 miles away to get my Uncle Mit to bring his jeep wagon, which would be much more comfortable than a big truck.  It was about 9 am. We waited and waited and waited for Uncle Mit to come with Aunt Ruth and their daughters, but they didn’t come. As it got close to 12:30 pm, Mom and Mrs. Shannon made the decision to have 13-year-old Jack drive the 6-ton truck with Dad, Mom, and Mrs. Shannon in the back. Dad lay on a mattress with his head on Mom’s lap. I was up in front with Jack, and up the hill we drove. Toma, the mason, was in back with Pierre. Toma helped stabilize Dad so that his body wasn’t moving back and forth and sideways in the truck over the rough dirt roads. We passed the village of Longo and then down the hill to the Lukwa River to cross the wooden bridge, having to place the big truck right in the center of those 2x12’s. Jack made it across. We didn’t say much to each other at all. Dad had to be taken to the hospital.  Up another hill to the plains. As we got halfway to Kikwit, we saw Mr. Shannon coming with his truck. He stopped and took over the driving, and Makumbi, who had learned to drive from my dad, took the Shannon vehicle and drove into Kikwit. In the meantime, Mr. Shannon drove down to the Kwilu River to the ferry and crossed, got off, and headed up the hill about 2-3 miles to the hospital.

Toma and the other men helped to push Dad to the back of the truck and then took him into the hospital. Dr. Fimi, the head Belgian doctor at Kikwit, examined him, and the look of concern was obvious on his face. He knew this was critical. Jack and I had come into the room with Dad and Mom, but Mom not wanting us to see Dad as he was, told us to return to the truck. When Jack and I got into the truck, we did not know that my father was near death, and we began to sing Do Lord, Oh Do Lord, Oh Do Remember Me, Way Beyond the Blue.  About a half hour later, Mom came out and said, “Boys, we don’t know what will happen to Dad, but he is in the Lord’s Hands.  The doctor is doing all he can.” She returned to Dad’s side. At our tender ages of 13 and 10, we certainly didn’t want to lose Dad.

Makumbi and Toma were very quiet. Then a terrible wail—Mom’s cry—came from Dad’s hospital room. Jack and I knew something had happened to Dad.  Shortly after, Mom came out of the room, and we could see the loss in her face. As she approached us, we could see that she had wiped the tears away for our sake. She continued, “Boys, your dad is gone,” to which I replied, “Where did he go? Can we see him?” Then she explained that Jesus had taken him to heaven. I then said, “Mom, if I pray real hard, will Jesus let us see him?” She said, “Not now, but someday you will. His soul and spirit are not here anymore.  He’s with the Lord.” We went into the hospital room and saw him one last time. Our uncle Howard then took us to the guest house in Kikwit.  

In Congo, after a person’s death, the law requires burial within 24 hours. Word spread. His funeral took place on January 25, 1953.

The next day, so many cars arrived for his funeral. In fact, we had no idea there were that many cars in the Kwilu Province. Belgian officials, Portuguese plantation owners, Catholic priests and nuns, missionaries, and many nationals came to pay their respects. The Mennonite missionaries came from Kafumba, and the ladies’ trio sang 2 songs: Face to face I shall behold him, far beyond the starry sky. Face to face in all His glory, I shall see him by and by. And Fanny Crosby’s, Saved by Grace. Uncle Howard Street, who flew the Burma Hump in World War II,  knew French. So the funeral was conducted in French first and then in English, paragraph by paragraph. The casket was put into the back of Uncle Howard’s Chevy Suburban, with the back doors open wide and led the way up the Kikwit Road to the cemetery.  As we climbed the hill, looking in the outside rear view mirror, we were astonished at the number of vehicles that were following us. My father, Dr. Laban Herbert Smith, was known and liked by many people in our part of Congo, both expatriates and nationals, and we all watched together as he was lowered into the soil of Congo.  

To lose my dad at the age of 10 was incredibly traumatic. I loved him beyond life. He was my model of God. He loved the Lord fervently. His passion for Christ and the Gospel caused him to leave two successful dental practices in Grosse Pointe and Detroit MI, a home with a 6-car garage and maid’s quarters attached to this exquisite place in Grosse Pointe, decked with oriental rugs, grand piano, and the finest of furniture and amenities.  And he never looked back or considered what he left behind as a sacrifice…never. It was an exchange for a robust life that would include going into villages for weeks at a time preaching the good news and hunting on the plains of Africa, while my brother and I relished in the thrill of the hunt day or night. Dad was a sharp shooter, out shooting many others. He could hit the antelope on the run and bring home dinner for us and the nationals time after time.  He also killed a Cape buffalo that was about to kill a fellow missionary. One time he ran up to a spitting cobra on the path, jumped up in the air, and came down on his head, killing the snake instantly. He was fearless.  

However, the other reality is that he suffered personal family tragedy.  He and Marcella lost a baby boy at the age of 14 months from an unknown disease while on furlough in the United States.  His daughter by his late wife was ravaged on the mission field. He never saw her brother or her again after they left them in the States to go back to Congo for a second term.  He was misunderstood and mistreated by fellow missionaries. But all of these heartaches did not stop him from going back to Africa or from continuing to share Jesus Christ, no matter how difficult and challenging life was.  

One of the reasons I got through my father’s death was watching my mother react to his passing.  Days after his burial, she became unable to walk without assistance upon returning to her home after explaining what happened to Dad to the nationals in the church service on the mission station.  She was a broken woman. Mentally and emotionally she was crippled. However, I watched my mom choose not to allow his death to win. The big thing was that she knew where Dad was, and her faith in the Scriptures and the promises of God when death takes place not only sustained her, but was a great encouragement to Jack and me.  

The hole that my father’s death left in our ministry in Congo was a great tug at my heart.  Who would carry on? I had seen 10,000 of the Bayanzi tribe turn to Christ and baptized with my own eyes.  I saw cannibals transformed and speaking the Gospel into the lives of their neighbors almost immediately after they were saved. I saw God provide our every need. Would I have been inclined to return had he lived? Did God use his death to compel me to go back?

I couldn’t have had a better role model.  He sought God’s face intently and prayed at dusk many times a week outside while walking from our house to his dental office to make teeth. I can still hear Dad and Mom discussing End Times night after night and how scared it made me feel as a young boy!  He was consumed with Christ. He was also delighted when Israel became a nation! Not a perfect man, but a man who allowed God to charter his course, risking everything come what may to make sure everyone he came in contact with heard about Jesus. He did all he could to make Jesus famous.  

Thank you Dad for choosing the best over the good or the convenient, contemplating your future in heaven with Christ, going the extra Congo mile to spend yourself for the Gospel, taking me hunting in the wild of Africa, and keeping the prize before your eyes...always. What if you had not returned to Congo after your first extremely difficult and discouraging 7-year term there?

Because you did the hard thing, plowing the unfurrowed soil of Africa, we can carry on what you pioneered.  Laban Bible Institute, the heart of which is evangelism, has been up and running now for 40 years, graduating more than 700 pastors, starting churches all over the Kwilu Province. The dispensary is helping to save lives and deliver babies.  Radio Glory is broadcasting the same Gospel you preached, and the women in our neck of the woods in Congo are being given hope and experiencing transformation through the literacy school.

What a legacy you have left for me!

Your son, Jim


Laban Ministries International

P.O. Box 1712

Columbia, TN 38401


Facebook: @Laban Ministries

(313) 516-4881


Support Laban Ministries while you shop on Amazon



Laban Ministries International

June 2019

Dear Ministry Partners,


For those of you who are new to Laban Ministries, this story is for you. It’s a way to introduce you to some of the history and origin of this work. To others, especially you who have invested in the lives of the wonderful people of Congo and others still unreached with the Gospel as of yet, this account will hopefully give God the glory for His faithfulness these past 81 years since Laban and Marcella Smith first set foot on African soil. Thank you for standing with us!

On the night of November 10, 1977, our three children and I were watching The Waltons on TV when I smelled a searing odor coming from the family room. I ran to the kitchen and opened the door to a room all ablaze due to a defective oil space heater. The upright piano, curtains, wall, and stacked boxes of Jim’s new recordings were engulfed in flames and black smoke. I immediately slammed the door shut and called the fire department, who delayed their coming because they couldn’t decide in which county we resided. Running back to our bedroom, I grabbed our king-sized bedspread, and the children and I barely escaped with nothing more than our night clothes.  Immediately after we shot out the front door, the floor collapsed, the windows burst, and the furnace exploded. 

Feeling compelled to make another attempt to get help, I ran barefoot in the snow to our nearest neighbors across the street some 300 feet in front of me. The fire department showed up but ran out of water and used our newly trout stocked pond to fight the flames of the almost 100-year-old farmhouse, but to no avail. Everything we had accrued over 13 years of marriage was gone in 20 minutes. This included the priceless films of baptisms at Nkara-Ewa during 1950-1952, our children walking for the first time, and all the things we held near and dear to our hearts. The fire even melted a brass scale with brass weights. Irreplaceable valuables, furniture, clothes—everything under our roof—were now nothing more than mere ashes. 

Jim was performing concerts in California with Wilbur Nelson of The Morning Chapel Hour. He called a couple of days after the fire after being told by my sister-in-law that our home was gone. He asked me what I thought we should do, to which I replied, “Let’s take our insurance money and rebuild on our ten acres” purchased one year before. Then I asked him what he thought we should do. He responded with, “I think God is calling us to Africa!” Just what I never wanted to hear.  

One year later, on December 6, 1978, after Jim had traveled 50,000 miles to raise support, he, Shawn, Nicol, Todd, and I made our way to Congo, with our youngest, Jack, on the way as well.  Jim’s mom, Marcella, preceded us by one month, but by the time we arrived, she had passed on to glory, dying in her sleep. Jim was returning to the land of his birth, but me? I was pregnant, lonely, and overwhelmed with culture shock.  A dear, dear family by the name of Voth came to our rescue and took us into their beautiful home for seven weeks after our arrival in Kinshasa, while we waited for our papers to be in order before traveling up country. They were the hands, feet, and love of Jesus. Without them, I seriously doubt if we would have stayed.  

Every time I recall this story, I am overwhelmed with the love of God. He loved the Bayanzis, descendants of cannibals in our area, so much so that he used a house fire as a catalyst to thrust us out to Congo, the very words that Jim’s mom said she was praying some 10 years before.  “If it is God’s will for you to go to Zaire, I pray the Lord will thrust you out.” He provided the most wonderful family to open their arms and home to us for a refuge and landing spot for almost 2 months before settling some 400 miles into the bush. Then the Lord orchestrated circumstances that would hem us in so that He would show Himself to be our portion, the maintainer of our lot, and enough for everything we would face in bush life for His glory and our good.  

We had been told in Bible college that the Lord’s will always fits like a glove. I learned that it may not fit at all—at least not at the beginning. I cried everyday for 2 years transitioning from city life with luxuries like 24 hours of electricity, including air conditioning, fast food, paved roads, refrigeration, gas stoves, automatic washers and dryers, convenience stores, and family and friends we had carved out our lives with, to having to use a generator for electricity maybe up to 4 hours a day, no air conditioning, making everything from scratch, dirt paths instead of roads at times, a fridge that rarely functioned the first term, cooking on a wood stove, using a wringer washer and clothesline dryer, and living with the absence of those we loved so dearly.  

Prayer became our mainstay. Our family of 6—Jack joined us six months later—became very closely knit. Our values changed. Gratitude soared. God manifested Himself in big ways over and over again.  

Small beginnings are not to be scorned. We were eye-witnesses to the Hand of God as He put together and expanded the Bible institute with students traveling miles on foot to attend and being willing to evangelize, even if they had to carry the generator on their heads while they walked those dusty roads, the Lord providing a dispensary to treat basic illnesses and delivering more babies than any other county in our area because of Marvina, our very competent midwife, providing for and erecting a 300’ radio tower and radio station in the middle of nowhere called Radio Glory, and the Lord transforming women’s lives through the literacy school at Nkara.  

I cannot thank God enough for choosing us to serve Him in Congo, Africa alongside the Bayanzi Tribe. They have and continue to teach us so much. Today, the work is maintained by nationals training and teaching their own to train their own. We work with people who live in abject poverty but are wealthy in faith. They know the value of prayer. They wear hardship like a medal. These unsung heroes of the faith will have some front row seats around the throne of God. The myriad of souls saved by faith in Christ will know in heaven what part you played in their coming to Christ!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your incredible investment in this work. Please pray for the upcoming evangelism outreach during the summer months.  

To God be the glory.  Great things He has done.


  • Nancy Smith


Laban Ministries International

P.O. Box 1712

Columbia, TN 38402


Support Laban Ministries while you shop on Amazon