Former International Mission Board Leader Steve Smith Dies at 57

Steve Smith, center left, former leader of International Mission Board work in Southeast Asia, died March 13. He’s shown here with his family, from left: Cris, Josh (holding Jim), Steve, Laura, David, and Caroline (holding Jack). Photo by Kathy Spetter

Steve Smith, who filled key leadership roles in Asia with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, died March 13 after a long illness. He was 57.

Smith and his wife Laura served with IMB for 18 years, always focused on parts of the world where the Gospel was little known. He began his service in East Asia and was later named to direct work among Southeast Asian peoples. He also served as a consultant on church-planting movements for other areas.

Smith was involved in a church-planting movement in East Asia. He and colleague Ying Kai wrote “T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution.” The book detailed the biblical principles behind church-planting movements and a process developed by Kai and his wife Grace to pursue such movements.

T4T, short for “Training for Trainers,” integrates evangelism, discipleship, church planting and leadership development and is now used around the world, including in the United States.

John Brady, IMB vice president for global engagement, said of Smith: “Steve was a man who really wanted to delight the Lord with his life. He actually valued that more than personal success.”

“When we seek to delight the Lord, we are truly successful,” Brady said. “I’ve seen Steve take some pretty tough situations where he appeared to pay a bit of a price, but it was because he wanted to delight God more than to appear successful.”

During the time he has known Steve and Laura, Brady said, he has come to know them as godly people, “loving the Lord, loving getting to the lost and making quite a difference with their lives.”

Brady shared a statement Smith had written to family and friends six months earlier as he struggled with the pain of his cancer: “After two hours of lying awake, reading and praying, God summarized the truth as it relates to my life in three phrases:

— Amazing past (Ephesians 2:10)

— Blessed and purposeful present (Ephesians 1:3ff)

— Unimaginably good future (2 Corinthians 4:17)”

“Lying in bed,” Smith continued, “a smile crossed my face and I began singing a song of praise quietly while Laura slept on the fold-out chair. In my mind, no one could have asked for a more amazing past. I am thrilled to have tried to live for God’s purposes most of my life. It fills my heart with gratitude. Second, every breath I breathe is marked by blessing from God so that I can live purposefully here on earth. There is no more noble mission than the one I participate in. And finally, whenever the day is to step over into the next part of eternal life, I have no way to imagine how glorious that will be.

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Source: Baptist Press