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100-Year-Old Prayer Leads to Moody Legacy: The Maxson Family

100-Year-Old Prayer Leads to Moody Legacy

The Maxson Family
  • November 18, 2013

BI Elvin MaxsonIt was October 19, 1917, and Sgt. Elvin Maxson lay in the trenches praying. As the Germans shelled the area, Elvin offered God everything he could think of-even his future children if God would spare his life. "I wasn't even married, not even engaged, or had anyone in mind, but I promised," he recalled in 1985. The Lord delivered Elvin (see photo) from World War I and gave him four children who served in fulltime ministry, including Jack Maxson '46, a Moody alumnus and missionary. Two grandchildren also attended Moody and served in full-time ministry.

The latest is fourth-generation Moody student Ethan Lucht, Elvin "Papa" Maxson's great-great-grandson, who gave up a 105 percent scholarship to Missouri state schools so he could attend Moody this fall. Ethan is called to serve God overseas after he graduates in 2017. "We believe this is evidence of the continued fulfillment of Papa's vow, 100 years before, and we praise God for His continued faithfulness in claiming our children as His own," says Joia (Smith) Lucht '93, Ethan's mom, who sent us her family tree, marked by four generations of Moody students and alumni. Ethan's father's side also includes several generations trained by Moody.

Maternal side

BI Jack and Margaret Maxson1st Generation: Jack Maxson '46 served in World War II, then met his wife, Margaret "Peggy" (Crossman '43) , at Moody.  They served as missionaries to Muslims in Aden, Arabia (now Yemen), until Peggy contracted polio while pregnant. She was kept alive in an iron lung until she could travel to England, where she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Despite being told she would never walk again, she endured painful physical therapy and learned to walk with braces. Jack and Peggy returned to the mission field, serving for many more years.


BI Jimmie and Willine McKinneyJack Maxson's brother Jimmie served in the Navy during WWII, then married a Moody alum, Willine McKinnney '45. They served together in pastoral ministries for 50 years.


BI Wesley and Patty Smith2nd Generation: William "Wesley" Smith '69 and Mary "Patty" (Price) Smith '67 are Moody graduates and Ethan's grandparents. They served in Mexico and Costa Rica as missionaries with CAM International (now Camino Global) but became seriously ill from drinking contaminated water. The Smiths had to return to the states for treatment but continued to serve the Lord. Patty is a therapist for children with learning disabilities to this day.


BI Ruth and Randall SmithEthan's great aunt, Ruth (Price) Smith '73, a music major, was known around campus as an inveterate prankster. She married Randall Smith (unrelated to Wes), went on to teach and direct church music, and now works at Dallas Theological Seminary.


BI Joshua and Joia Lucht3rd Generation: Ethan's parents, Joshua Lucht '92-'93 and Joia Noel (Smith) Lucht '91-'93 met at Moody. Both were in media, Joshua as a news producer and Joia as a concert producer. They use their platforms and connections to share the gospel.


BI Ethan Lucht4th Generation: Ethan Lucht, class of 2017


Paternal side

BI Ivan and Alice Olsen1st Generation: Ethan's great grandmother Alice (Gustafson) Olsen attended Moody in 1937. She married Ivan Olsen, who founded the Berean denomination in the Midwest. Alice served as a mentor to the women of the denomination, especially the pastors' wives. Four of Alice's siblings ( Cliff '48, Lorraine '47, Dorothy Mae '44,  and Oliver '48 ) attended Moody as well. Lorraine married Moody alumus Irving Booth '47.


A first cousin to the Gustafson siblings, Norma Westerbek Stoffl '39-'40 [no photo available] worked as a stripper before becoming a Christian. When her husband abandoned her, she attended Moody, then spent many years as a single missionary to Cuba. Her name is on a plaque behind Torrey-Gray Auditorium.


BI Sergei and Christy Belkin2nd Generation: The Gustafsons' children did not attend Moody, however some of their descendants did. Christy Chappell Belkin ('95), granddaughter of Lorraine (Gustafson) and Irving Booth, now works with Intervarsity and helps organize Urbana's missions conferences.


BI David and Jill Hamilton3rd Generation: Ethan's aunt, Jill (Lucht) Hamilton ('95-'98), Alice Olsen's granddaughter, attended Moody, as did his parents, Joshua and Joia (Smith) Lucht.


This extended family includes missionaries, pastors, music leaders, military members, media members, therapists, teachers, and more. The legacy spans the globe, and Ethan Lucht desires to take it even further. As Joia Smith wrote in an email to Moody's Alumni Association office, their family has for years quoted D.L. Moody as they "strove to see 'what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him.' By God's grace, our family members have always tried to be such men and women."

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