The Dakota Conference welcomes Sarel and Ronica Smit, and their daughter Twainé, from South Africa to the United States and to the Dakotas.

Before pastoring, the Smits owned a mining company in South Africa, which they sold to enter the real estate industry. As an accountant, Ronica was actively involved in these enterprises and also managed rental properties. Sarel studied to become an attorney and was appointed general manager of several state agencies. During these ventures, a dentist located in their same office complex introduced them to Adventism.

After becoming Adventist, Sarel felt called to the ministry, so the family moved to Capetown, South Africa. Sarel enrolled at Helderberg College, the Adventist college in South Africa.

Ronica divided her time between being a mom and working as a bookkeeper to keep Sarel in school. Because Sarel did so well in his studies his first year, though, the school offered him a full scholarship his second year and the conference sponsored the last two years with the agreement he would work for them.

Upon graduation the conference called him into the office as human resources director and hired Ronica as an accountant.

However, Sarel’s desire was still to be a pastor. The Northern Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, offered him a pastorate and he gladly accepted. His district included five churches in the Alberton area of Johannesburg. Ronica transferred as an accountant and was later an internal auditor for the conference.

Sarel also pastored for the Cape Conference in the area of Port Elizabeth and, before coming to the United States, in the Sedaven District, an Adventist community that includes an elementary school, high school, Advent Haven retirement center and several churches. In addition to pastoring in this hub of pastors’ meetings, retreats, Meals on Wheels and campmeetings, Sarel also served as the town’s mayor.

During Sarel’s tenure, the conference asked if he was open to working overseas. He said he would be open to it, and he was notified that the Dakota Conference had openings for pastors. Thus the journey began.

The Smits now pastor the Harvey-Manfred church district in North Dakota. Twainé is enrolled at Dakota Adventist Academy as a sophomore.