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New Life at New Tribe

How Two Veterans Found Their Purpose in Church Leadership- Together

The tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001, changed the lives of countless Americans. While the country looked on in horror as the events of that day unfolded active-duty Army soldiers, Jarod and Jennifer Smith made a decision that not only changed their lives but is now changing the lives of many in Mount Juliet, TN. 

One afternoon, Jarod, an Army Topographic Analyst, was dared by a few friends to knock on the apartment door of Jennifer, a Nuclear Biological Chemical Warfare Specialist, and ask her on a date. Jennifer, a certified expert rifleman, shot Jarod down. Jarod, with a wounded ego, was persistent and returned for a second attempt. She acquiesced and the two exchanged phone numbers. After two weeks of “missed” phone calls, Jarod and Jennifer went on a date. Within six months they married and did so on their lunch break! 

While both had similar interests and fell in love quickly, the two disagreed sharply on one topic: the existence of God. This resulted in their first argument, and they decided to drop the subject. 

Then September 11th happened. It was rare, if not an improbability that Jarod and Jennifer would find themselves off work and home together during a weekday. As the horrific events of 9/11 unfolded, they began to ask if there was such evil in the world, could there be an opposing force just as good? Not having a bible, they borrowed one from their Catholic and Buddhist neighbor and began searching. Before the day would end Jarod would take Jennifer’s hand and both would fall on their knees and surrender their lives to Jesus. While they did not have the language to describe what was happening, Jarod and Jennifer now know – “that God’s love was being poured into their hearts through the Holy Spirit.” 

After Jarod’s deployment to Iraq, a newfound Christian faith, and a combined eight and half years in the military they decided to leave the military and enroll in bible college. As Jarod and Jennifer made ends meet raising children, living in student housing, going to school to become a licensed family marriage therapist and nursing school, their friends from the military were pastoring a church and asked Jarod and Jennifer to become youth pastors in 2005. They said yes and that’s where their life in ministry began. 

Over the next 15 years, these two veterans would go on to serve in student ministry and young adult ministry before Jarod became the Worship Pastor at Life Mission Church in Kansas City. While Jarod has an incredible voice and is musically skilled on the guitar, his talents weren’t always used in a pastoral position. Before his conversion on 9/11, Jarod was the lead singer in a band called “Hangover.” He declined to share any lyrics for this article. 

After the Pastor of Life Mission Church shared a vision for their Church to support planting ten churches across the country, Jared and Jennifer felt the call to start a church. After prayer, dreams, and confirmations, they felt the call to plant a church in one of the fastest-growing population centers, Nashville, specifically Mount Juliet. 

As veterans, they knew what it was to walk in obedience and trust that where they were being led had a purpose. 

During their search for homes, the first address sent to them by the realtor was on Affirm Drive. They saw this as an affirmation they were making the right decision. After arriving in Mount Juliet and searching for a school or location to temporarily set up each Sunday, they were met with failure to secure a location. One night Jarod received a phone call that an old funeral home on Division Street was going to be vacant for a year and asked if he was open to signing a short-term lease. After much prayer and council, the lease was signed. New Tribe Church secured their location on Veteran’s Day! 

Today, New Tribe continues to grow and invest time, energy, and resources into the local community by partnering with other local churches, ministries like Everyone’s Wilson, and community leaders. 

From active duty in the Army, Jennifer served as a registered nurse for 13 years- much through the Covid pandemic, supporting the community during the tornadoes of 2020, and now having their youngest son active in the army, their lives are rooted in public service, and they look forward to continuing to serve in this growing community.

While they did not have the language to describe what was happening, Jarod and Jennifer now know – “that God’s love was being poured into their hearts through the Holy Spirit.”

As veterans, they knew what it was to walk in obedience and trust that where they were being led had a purpose. 

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