Bill and Susan Smith
Leaving the home they had made in Bangkok, Thailand, was hard for them, but the new work was important, and Bill and Susan were willing to be a part of it.
In the 1980s, the Foreign Mission Board created Cooperative Service International to focus on countries where traditional missionary presence was not possible. FMB leaders asked Bill and Susan Smith to be a part of the new work. In their new roles, travel would become routine, and a new home base would best facilitate the rigorous travel schedules. So they left Thailand to make their home in East Asia.
Initially, Bill and Susan focused on evangelization strategies in East Asia. In a newsletter to supporters, they wrote: “The ‘unreached’ are unreached for a reason. They live in political, religious, or geographic areas that have been barricaded or hidden from traditional missions approaches. Now those barriers are being broken down as new and innovative ways are found to focus prayer, personnel, financial, and program resources specifically on those who have little or no previous exposure to Christianity.”
The Smiths’ work was vital as Southern Baptists discovered ways to cross barriers and bring the gospel to new areas. Bill’s work soon spread to other Asian regions and eventually led to trips all over the world. Susan accompanied Bill on some travels, but she also focused on the part of their job that included hosting visitors. In just six months’ time, they had guests for more than 60 nights and numerous meals and daytime meetings.
Their work in developing new missions’ strategies, understanding world evangelism, and training cross-cultural workers helped to shape the future work of missions for Southern Baptists and numerous partner organizations. The goal to reach the unreached remains today.