Matt and Janelle Steidinger were raised on Illinois farms near Fairbury and Strawn. They began dating while attending the University of Illinois and both surrendered to Jesus during this time. Married in May 1999, they lived in Kansas and then Missouri before returning to central Illinois in 2002. Prior to full time ministry, Matt was self-employed as a swine nutrition consultant and Janelle as a ‘domestic engineer”. They have been active in their local church through prison ministry, teaching Sunday school, college campus evangelism, mentoring, and other community outreach opportunities.
In 2004, Matt and Janelle and their two oldest children spent two months in Santarem, Brazil as short-term missionaries with Project AmaZon (PAZ). During this time, they were exposed to the amazing move of God in the Amazon Basin, and the value of airplanes in accessing time-consuming and/or difficult to reach areas of the Amazon for Christ. They also learned invaluable lessons from interacting with the other full-time missionaries. This trip solidified the call to the Amazon in their life—but they were still unsure as to what exactly their role would be. Matt and Janelle continued to be involved with PAZ by leading several work teams to Brazil over the next few years. Also, Matt was honored to serve as a PAZ board member for 2 years.
After numerous promptings by God, Matt began flying in 2007 and was able to build hours over the following four years while still working in the swine nutrition field. The Steidingers then spent a year in Michigan, where Matt graduated with his Airframe and Powerplant mechanic’s license from the School of Missionary Aviation Technology, and they also completed Bible training required for a missionary visa to Brazil. In July 2012, Matt completed Mission Aviation Fellowship’s Pilot Technical Evaluation and passed! The Steidinger family (including Mariah (2001), Jaelah (2003), Luke (2005), and Sierra (2008)) moved to Brazil in January 2013 and attended language school in Campinas (near São Paulo). In December 2013, the family moved north to the city of Santarém, along the Amazon River, and have been serving there since.