Robert “Bob”, LCC ’73, and Lorraine (Brooker), LCC ’74, Szoke have been in ministry since graduating from Lincoln Christian College. Ministry paths have taken them to Nebraska and then to Chicagoland, where they’ve been since 1976, serving in 4 churches and various capacities.
Lorraine focused her education from Lincoln as a leader in the banking industry becoming a Vice President and Branch Manager. All the while, her passion for music and worship has been the dominant theme of her life. Whether it was teaching piano students, directing choirs, leading and singing in ensemble groups, organizing the worship time, playing piano duets, or speaking at ladies’ events, her passion has been to lead others in worship. Lorraine also has a passion for women’s ministry and small group leadership as well as sharing in the preaching ministry at Impact. She loves teaching the youth group, grades 1-5.
Bob has been heavily involved in ministry at all levels. Nine years ago, he left a position as Director of Development with Ignite Church Planting (Chicago District Evangelistic Association) to assume the lead role as church planter with Impact Christian Church. Impact originally was started by their son, Steve, who had a passion for lost people, and loved professional wrestling. When Impact first opened its doors, the church focused on reaching out to guys who were tough, had somewhat of a dislike for the church, and would only come to church because of Steve’s influence. Sadly, Steve unknowingly had Stage 4 colorectal cancer when Impact started, and within the first year of Impact’s ministry, succumbed to cancer. Bob currently leads the staff of three other part time ministers, all whom are LCU grads: Timothy K. Saco, LCU ’10, Ruth Grove Maynard, LCC ’01, and Jonathan D. Spencer, LCC’02.
Today, Impact is a strong church in an urbanized community. Impact went through a variety of changes, with the most recent occurring five years ago when Impact was gifted the Merrillville Christian Church campus. The dynamic of the Impact ministry changed. Bob and Lorraine became more involved in the local neighborhood, and ministries began to develop such as weekly bread distribution, hosting Pantry on the Go, and accommodating the summer feeding program offered through the Merrillville School Corporation. Impact became more of a neighborhood church than ever before. Currently, every Monday evening about 40-60 neighborhood children gather for youth group. The evening includes a meal, play time, games, and lessons from Scripture.
Ministry is all Bob and Lorraine have known for their almost 44 years of marriage. In addition to Steve, Bob and Lorraine have a daughter, Sarah, who graduated from LCC in ’01, and is married to Brian P. Lowery, LCC ’00, LCS ’05. Brian and Sarah are ministering in Florida.
The Impact Christian Church story is the story of God’s great provision. Bob carefully says it’s as if God said, “’What would you do if you knew money was no object to fear?” God has provided funding for the Back to School Block party with this year’s program giving away 600 backpacks full of school supplies and socks/underwear for 400 students. For the 2017 program, 1800-2000 people were on the Impact campus in one afternoon. Other outreach programs include the annual Meijer Gift Card program where needy families are given Meijer cards to buy either food or Christmas presents for their children. God most recently gave Impact a piece of property, as we had prayed, free and clear, which is useful in the Monday youth programs. Some of the other highlights of the Impact ministry include assisting other churches with summer neighborhood events, a key participant in the National Night Out, our own Angel Tree program, and sending 50 children to church camp at Lake Region Christian Assembly this summer. Impact is the recipient of Thanksgiving Food baskets from three different sources, distributing 104 food baskets in 2016. In October, Impact hosted a Meal Packing Event, sponsored by LifeLine Christian Mission packing 12,000 meals, as well as hosting the annual Trunk or Treat for about 600 of the children and parents in our neighborhood.
There is so much more to share. The Merrillville City Council Chairman called Impact a “sermon” being lived out as the ministry gives to the community. Impact’s mission is to love God, love people, and multiply. That’s what we are about. For more information, contact Bob Szoke at 219.775.3334, firstname.lastname@example.org or Lorraine Szoke at 219.776.4412, email@example.com.