The elders at Hope in Christ Bible Church see shepherding the church as a high, holy and humbling biblical commitment, as the Apostle Peter exhorts elders to "shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight...proving to be examples to the flock" (I Pet. 5:1-3). The Apostle Paul explains why the responsibility of an elder is to be taken seriously: The church they guard was purchased with Christ's own blood (Acts 20:28).
With this in mind, these elders, as undershepherds, must take seriously the biblical call to spiritually lead, feed, and protect the dear saints God has entrusted to their care as ones who will one day give an account for these souls to the great Shepherd of the sheep (Heb. 13:17,20).
In the wisdom and strength of God, the elders of Hope in Christ Bible Church seek to humbly model Christ to the congregation and take every opportunity to faithfully study and impart God's truth to God's people, as is His plan "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:11-12).
Our pastor at Hope, Peter Smith, grew up in Southern California where he studied at Biola University (intercultural studies), Talbot Seminary and graduated with a Masters of Divinity in systematic theology from The Masters Seminary. Peter is married to the love of his life, Sonya, and they are blessed by the Lord with four children: Joshua, Matthew, Katherine, and Daniel.
Peter and Sonya served as church planters in the provincial Philippines and atheistic Czech Republic for nearly 20 years. They have huge hearts to see God’s glory made known everywhere (Psalm 96:1-3). In 2009, Hope warmly welcomed Peter to come minister the Word and pastor the congregation. Since that time, Peter has preached expositionally through Ephesians, Acts, I Peter, II Peter, Esther, John, Jonah, Titus, a number of the Psalms, and most recently, all of Genesis. II Corinthians 2:14 is one of the many prized passages he celebrates in life and ministry: "But thanks be to God who always leads us in His triumph in Christ and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place!" One of his favorite quotes: "Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God." -Wm. Carey
Lonnie Neufeld was born in western Oregon and grew up on a farm. Christ came into his life at the age of seven and he was baptized at the age of thirteen. He attended a Christian high school and then attended Fresno Pacific College, earning a degree in mathematics. He moved to the Detroit area and worked at a local university and earned a Master's degree in Computer Science.
He met his wife Florence, who was a nurse and they married a year later. They have a son, three daughters, two sons-in-law and six grandchildren. He worked for Ford Motor Company for 27 years and wrote, designed, and managed computer projects for engineers. Lonnie held various leadership positions in several churches. He led a boys club for 25 years. He was one of the original elders at Hope in Christ. Lonnie loves to share Christ with those he meets.
Jeff first remembers clearly having the gospel proclaimed to him by a Sunday school teacher when he was in elementary school. By God’s grace, his heart was softened and he remembers weeping over his sin and asking the LORD to forgive him. He recounts that since then, God’s faithfulness to him is what has kept him close over his life.
Jeff and his wife, Annette helped to found Hope in April of 2000. Since then, he has been active in forming and overseeing the children's ministries, seeing himself blessed to co-labor with Christ and the rest of the saints. In 2003, he was asked to become an elder, which the LORD confirmed to him as his calling. In his ministry, it is his greatest joy to worship his great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to see His power and glory on display through His transforming work in believers’ lives.
One of the many verses that guides his ministry is Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you.”
Craig started attending Hope in 2014 after finding the church on the Master’s Seminary website. Shortly thereafter, he became a member and began serving in various bible studies and Sunday School. Craig counts it a privilege to go through life with his wife, Jill, and together they have three children: Will, Jane, and Harry.
Craig states that he loves Christian fellowship and desires to serve the body of Christ in any capacity that is needed, as exhorted in other words by the Apostle John: “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). In his ministry, he seeks to encourage others in the same peace he has found in the words “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Craig finds inspiration from Martin Luther in his hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God:
Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name, From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
Craig has been an elder at Hope since January of 2020.