A Family Legacy

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.

Matt & Jessica Oswell

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 he was considering.

Yet, he found himself continuing to postpone his question. 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?

Tractor Time

Sean & Jani Carney were involved with Village Missions churches long before they became missionaries.

They lived in Cusick, Washington, for 8 years before moving to Dalkena Community Church just down the road. While in Dalkena, the Carneys were encouraged by Village Missionary Mike Close to join the ACT Program (Apprentice Church Training Program), which was a forerunner of Contenders Discipleship Initiative.

Initially uncertain, Sean & Jani received encouragement from new Executive Director Brian Wechsler, who 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.

The Carney family first served in 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!

Unexpected Ministry

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 schoolers 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 was considering attending Bible college in Los Angeles, Jessica thought there was no way their relationship would work if he was heading for the city! However, one visit to that metro area ended that idea very quickly!

However, through working as counselors for a camp in Alaska during their summers, along with serving in the same college group at their church, Jessica and Matthew got to know each other more.

When they got married in December of 2011, Matthew was able to see a different kind of ministry through Jessica’s family: Village Missions.

Not familiar with VM whatsoever, Matthew began to see firsthand how his new in-laws, Sean & Jani, served as missionaries in the context of a rural community.

“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!

Village Missionary Paul Burns mentored Matt during the internship in Burley.

They embarked on a Summer Internship in 2013 in Burley, Washington, followed by a One Year Internship in Skokomish, Washington (where the salmon swim across the road!).

Finally, in December of 2015, the Oswells became Village Missionaries and have been serving at Skokomish Community Church ever since.

A Family Legacy

Each Village Missions church is a unique story. God is using the Carney & Oswell families to write these churches’ stories of grace and faithfulness.

You can be a part of the story that God is writing 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 you consider partnering 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

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