"I have but one passion - it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can most be used in winning souls for Christ."

Monday, July 3, 2017

July 2017 Newsletter

“The professors observed that the Church was growing faster than their institutions could produce trained leadership… So these men decided that if the pastors were unable to come to the seminary, they would take the seminary to the pastors.”

- TEE Keynote Address, Maseru LS


Greetings from the Cold 
Our coal stove is burning brightly as we huddle around and try to stay warm throughout the cold Lesotho winter. The past few months have gone along normally without much to report out of the ordinary. We continue our life in Africa, living in the mountain community, preparing the expansion of TEE, and writing on the commentary project.

Recently in the Capital
…I had the opportunity to address a gathering of pastors, church leaders, missionaries, teachers, and laymen at a TEE Vision Casting event. This meeting was planned by the TEE committee as a way to promote the TEE program and make more ministry leaders aware of the opportunity for non-formal theological training in Lesotho. Our goal was both to expand the ministry’s horizons and to recruit more Basotho leaders to be involved in the work. I gave a brief history of TEE and how it was developed in Latin America in the 1960s. We pointed out the common hindrances that keep pastors from being able to attend traditional residential Bible schools and how TEE addresses each of those problems. I was then able to show them a video of testimonies from our TEE graduates. This, I believe, was one of the most powerful elements of the meeting. It was such a blessing for Basotho leaders to hear from other Basotho pastors how the TEE program has helped them in their ministries and in their understanding of God’s Word. You can watch the video for yourself here: http://stclairsinmissions.blogspot.com/2017/06/testimonies-from-tee-graduates.html.  I was very grateful for the opportunity to share the vision of TEE and pray that God will use that meeting as a catalyst to expand the ministry here. Please be praying for us as we meet with our Mokhotlong TEE graduates and current TEE students to try to recruit them to lead new TEE groups around the country. We are planning specifically to start a group in Butha Buthe, a town halfway between here and the capital, and hope to have that group launched by the end of August. We need the Lord to move hearts and transfer the vision of TEE to more “faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).

Last month...
…our family was able to take a trip to visit Cape Town! It was probably the most beautiful place I have ever been. We have been wanting to visit the Mother City for a long time, but the visa issues between Lesotho and South Africa have been preventing us. However, in a completely random incident a border guard stamped us into South Africa with a 90-day visa instead of the normal 7 days. So we took the opportunity to return and visit the Cape. We set aside several days to make the journey down and stopped in some beautiful towns, guest houses, and game parks along the way. While there, we were also able to visit with Juliette Hawkins, another missionary from Abby’s home church in South Carolina, who is working with an anti-trafficking organization. We also visited the Cape of Good Hope, a penguin roosting ground, a big aquarium, a gorgeous botanical garden, and experienced the spectacular views of Table Mountain. Our local pastor’s sister also lives in Cape Town and she and her husband showed us some of the special places, as well as treating us to a delicious African lunch buffet on Mother’s Day. All in all, it was a very enjoyable time for our family!

Another ministry of ours...
…is actually done by our children. I don’t think we will ever be able to know just how much our work here is impacted by Kyle, Ellee, and Sadie. Children add another dimension to ministry that will either help or hurt the overall impact of a missionary family. Most often, I believe, our kids greatly increase our impact here. They have relationships in Mokhotlong that draw people to our family in a way that Abby and I never could alone. Our neighbor’s son, Liteboho, is one of those boys. He is thirteen years old, but he is Kyle’s best friend (and I think Kyle may be his, too). Back in January, we were able to take another neighbor friend to South Africa for the first time, because he had turned 18. Well, as soon as we got back from that trip, Lite’s mother went and applied for his passport, so that he might also be able to visit one day. Last week, we took him to Durban. He had never been to a big city, let alone another country. Once again, we got to experience the joy of all of his “firsts” at the beach, the highway, a game park, a mall, a cinema, a restaurant, even a World Cup soccer stadium. Lite is our friend because of our kids. We were blessed by the opportunity to be a blessing to him!

As always…
…we would love to hear from you. We pray that the Lord is keeping you and your loved ones by His Spirit. We miss you terribly and thank God continually for your investment in our lives and ministry.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.”

- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle , Ellee, & Sadie Kate St.Clair



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Testimonies from TEE Graduates

Please enjoy this video of testimonies from our Mokhotlong TEE graduates.

video


© "Live in Your Word," Damaris Music, 2005.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February 2017 Newsletter

Satan’s Strategies to Hinder the Work of Missions:
  1. Destruction - Kill all the Christians
  2. Dead Religion - Church without the gospel power and genuine saving faith
  3. Deception - Create an alternate religion
  4. Indifference - Apathy towards the lost
  5. Distraction - Church focused on its own ministries, attendance, and facilities
  6. Division - Churches divided over non-essential doctrines and practices

Happy 2017!  
It is pretty amazing to realize that we are already into 2017. It doesn’t seem like four full years have passed since we first moved to make our home here in Lesotho. God has done much over the past years and we look forward to what He will do during the rest of our time here.

God’s Big Story
Over the past two months, I have been preaching through a series of sermons on the grand narrative of Scripture. I called it God’s Big Story. The goal was to help the church understand the big picture of God’s plan for the world and the reason that we Christians are still on the earth today. So many times, the Bible (especially the Old Testament) is treated as a collection of short stories that teach us moral principles about life rather than as a single, unified story of God’s plan to redeem mankind. The messages have been very well received and I have been so encouraged by the responses we have heard. So many people have said things like, “I have never understood it that way before. I never saw the connections between those truths.” Particularly when we came to the book of Acts, the people’s response was amazing! It was like I could see the light bulbs coming on in people’s faces and I even heard audible gasps as people began to understand why the church exists, how the new covenant relates to the old covenant, what it means to be “born again,” and why we do what we do in the church today. The last two Sundays have focused on missions and outreach to the unreached people groups of Africa. I showed them the statistics that the majority of the world’s evangelical Christians now live here in sub-Saharan Africa and how the African church is beginning to replace the American church as the primary missionary-sending people. This was a  brand new concept for most of the church members and I can’t wait to see how they respond to the challenge. Already I have had one of the men in the church approach me, saying he wants to help with AIM’s outreach team to the shepherds here in Lesotho. I pray that God will make this a truly pivotal moment in the life of Basotho churches!

This past month…
…we were happy to welcome a visitor from home. Abby’s sister, Lacy, took some of her winter break to come spend time with us. Her flights over here encountered a number of problems and she ended up being delayed two full days after landing in the wrong country, hitting sandstorms, food shortages, passenger riots, and engine problems! We were all relieved when she finally landed in Johannesburg safe and sound. The kids especially loved having Lacy here. Being far away from our families is always the hardest part of our living overseas. Kyle and Ellee loved sitting and listening to Lacy read books to them. While she was here we also experienced a flash flood that destroyed the town’s underground water system. It took them two and a half weeks to get the town’s water restored, so Abby and Lacy spent a lot of time down at the river washing the laundry by hand with the rest of the town ladies. Despite a trying African experience, we believe Lacy still enjoyed her time here. Now we are looking forward to our next visit from Abby’s mom and two other sisters at the end of this month!

When we returned Lacy to the airport in Durban, we also had a unique opportunity. South Africa’s strict immigration laws make it very difficult for us to travel out of Lesotho with anyone other than our immediate family. However, one of the boys that I have been coaching in football for the past two years just had his 18th birthday in January. This means he does not require parental consent, signed affidavits, or pre-approved visas to travel out of Lesotho. Danki has lived here in Mokhotlong his entire life and has only been to a city once, for a school trip. We had such a fun time watching him experience South Africa, the beach, and a big city for the first time. It was his first time to see Sani Pass, a freeway, monkeys, a zebra, an ostrich, an escalator, an elevator, a drive-thru, a movie theater, a restaurant menu, an airport, a traffic jam, a swimming pool, the ocean, a boat, a parking garage, a shower, a shopping mall, a football stadium, and more. Abby wrote a blog post about the trip you can find here: http://abbymtstclair.blogspot.com/2017/01/theres-first-time-for-everything.html.

We also enjoyed hosting a World Race team from America for the past two months. This team of 10 guys became our close friends and we spent several late nights streaming the NFL playoffs together. It is truly a blessing to be a part of the missionary community!

Life is going well for us…
…and we would like to know how yours has been. Please send us a quick email to let us know how you are and especially of any ways that we can pray for you or support you in any way. God bless you all! Thanks for your partnership in the ministry.

- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle, Ellee, & Sadie Kate St.Clair

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November 2016 Newsletter

Back in Mokhotlong
Greetings from Lesotho once again. Our family has completed our home assignment and we are now settled back into life in Africa. We arrived back here at the beginning of September. It is really amazing to see how seamlessly the kids reentered their life in Mokhotlong and reconnected with our friends and neighbors here at home.

While We Were Gone
Mokhotlong is growing! We returned in September to find several new buildings, houses, and businesses being built in town. The kids’ favorite is the new Fish & Chips restaurant that serves a wide variety of menu items - including soft serve ice cream (sometimes). This is the first real restaurant to open in our town. It is run by a friendly Indian man named Jinnu, who quickly identified himself to us as a Christian. He often runs the store while wearing his “I Love Jesus” hat proudly. Even more exciting to Abby is the Shoprite grocery store that is supposed to be opening soon. She will be very pleased to be able to get more of our food here locally, instead of having to wait until we drive into South Africa again. I have been most encouraged by learning that the TEE program has gone on in our absence. Ntate Bongata has kept up his leadership of the work and is now teaching a new group of about 12 students. Some of them are leaders in the churches where our TEE graduates minister. Others are church planters from nearby villages. I also learned that one of our TEE graduates, who was not affiliated with any particular church, has moved into a village across the river to plant a new church. Throughout all of our time here, our goal has been to develop the ministry in such a way that it can be handed over to local leadership and continue on whenever the Lord takes us away from here. It is tremendously encouraging to see that happening even now. We give God all of the praise and glory for what He has done thus far and we are asking for His blessing and wisdom as we work for the next two years to spread the TEE ministry around the country. Our goal in this assignment is to make TEE more well known and more accessible to pastors throughout Lesotho by helping our TEE graduates and other qualified leaders to start and lead new study groups in other cities.

This past weekend…
…Bongata and I were invited to join the TEE group from Maseru for their quarterly conference.  The topic of study was to be evangelism and the leadership decided to make the conference an outreach event in a mountain village. They wanted to lecture on the principles of evangelism and then give the students practical, hands-on experience in doing evangelistic ministry. In addition, the TEE committee partnered with the Scripture Union of Maseru to present the Jesus film in the village and to introduce the TEE pastors to the idea of sports evangelism. So we took the beautiful 5-hour drive from Mokhotlong to the Thaba Tseka district to help lead this special event. I think it was probably the best conference we’ve ever done. One of the TEE students in the Maseru group is a pastor who has planted a church in that rural village. After presenting the film that evening, probably 80-100 people from the village stood up to receive Christ as their Savior. Ntate Joseph then introduced them to the pastor, so that he can begin to follow up on their decisions and seek to disciple these new converts.

To make wise use of our time...
…we have also undertaken another project. Bongata and I have begun writing a Sesotho Bible commentary that we intend to publish. We noticed last year that once our pastors finish the TEE course, there is really not much else available to help them in Bible study and interpretation, unless they can speak English well. So we thought it would be incredibly helpful if we were to create the first commentary/Bible survey available in Sesotho. It will take a tremendous amount of effort, but we have begun to work on it already. Our goal is to give a brief overview of each book of the Bible, explaining any background material that is necessary to understanding the book and offering help on many of the passages that are especially significant for Basotho pastors to grasp. Please pray for us, that we will be able to be efficient in this work and to complete the whole project within the next two years. I believe it is by the Lord’s leading and trust that He will bring it to completion.

We want to thank each of you…
…for making our time in America so joyful and refreshing. We loved being able to catch up with most of you and to just be a part of our home churches once again. The truth is that it is often very difficult to be so far away from our friends and families and life can get very lonely at times. But you all made us feel welcome and at home again, just as if we’d never left. We look forward to these next two years in Lesotho and will be continuing to ask God for direction on where He will want us to serve next. God bless you all!

- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle, Ellee, & Sadie Kate St.Clair





Tuesday, August 9, 2016

August 2016 Newsletter

Back to Africa  
Three weeks from now, we will be in Atlanta boarding a plane for Johannesburg on our way back to Lesotho. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in America and we have been very refreshed both spiritually and physically. While we look forward to being back in our home in Africa, saying goodbye to our families is never easy. Please keep our family in your prayers this month.

The Next Two Years
Our next assignment with AIM is to continue establishing the work of TEE in Lesotho. During our first three years, our assignment was to move to Lesotho and start the TEE program in Mokhotlong. It was the goal by the end of those three years to turn that group over to a qualified national believer who could take the leadership of the TEE program in Mokhotlong.We were pleased to see God do exactly that by bringing my good brother Ntate Bongata to work with me in TEE. He is a gifted leader who is passionate about the work of the ministry and well-qualified to lead our TEE pastors. He was born and raised right there in the Mokhotlong district and was led to Christ by another family of AIM missionaries years ago.

Our goal now is to see TEE spread to other areas of the country. The need for theological training is great and many pastors around the country are hungry to be taught more of God’s Word and equipped to lead their churches. Our plan is to work together with TEE leadership to develop a plan for starting new TEE groups in new areas. I will not be leading these groups personally, as I did with our Mokhotlong group; instead, I hope to see them led by some of our TEE graduates who completed the course last December. The program already runs entirely on local finances. By establishing local leadership in each of the new groups, we will be able to leave behind a healthy and growing TEE program in Lesotho. We are estimating another two years to get this assignment completed.

Our children... 
…have enjoyed every minute of our time in America. They have been real troopers through the hours of travel and have done well at making new friends everywhere we went. I remember my dad saying this when my family was traveling around the country, but now I have seen it for myself: Our children are some of the most effective tools God has given us for ministry. They change, challenge, and shape us as parents. They draw people in with their sweet smiles and friendly spirits. They make our lives truly joyful. People love them and they love people. Please be praying for them as we move back to Africa. Kyle was two when we moved overseas and both of the girls were born over there. Leaving this time could be a lot harder for them now that they have more close relationships here in America. At the same time, they are also excited about getting back to Lesotho. They are beginning to ask about their friends back home and can’t wait to be back there again. This is the life that they live - never really home and never fully belonging in either country. I know you all know this, but biblical priorities mandate that family must come before work or ministry (1 Tim. 3:4-5). We want to always be sensitive to the needs of our children and ensure that their wellbeing is never sacrificed for the sake of “the ministry.” It is a delicate balance we have to maintain.

Thank you all...
…for welcoming us back home and allowing us to be a part of your lives again during these months. We have loved being able to just plug in again and serve at our home churches - Millbrook and Cornerstone. You have helped to refresh us spiritually and we are grateful for your love and encouragement. Huge thanks also to our supporters, Baker and Terri White, for providing us with a place to stay and a vehicle to drive during our time here. The kids have loved living with you and will miss you greatly (and the dogs, too)! As best we can tell, our support is nearly at 100%. If any of you are still interested in contributing to our ministry needs, we can send you information on that. Just contact us by email or Facebook and we will get in touch. This weekend I am actually heading to Mexico for a mission trip with several other men from Millbrook. When I get back, we will have ten days to pack up our bags for the next two years. Thanks again for all of your love, prayers, and support. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time with you all and will be missing you again in the near future. Stay faithful to Him always and pray for the spread of the gospel among the unreached!

- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle, Ellee, & Sadie Kate St.Clair



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

June 2016 Newsletter

Hello From Home  
Our time in America has been incredibly refreshing for our family thus far. We have been here now since the middle of December and we have about three months remaining before we plan to return to Lesotho. While we have been busy with traveling, attending missions conferences and completing my seminary studies, it has been a blessing to be around our families and friends again.

Liberty Graduation
On May 13-14, our family traveled up to Lynchburg, Virginia to attend the commencement ceremonies as I was finally able to complete my degree from Liberty University’s School of Divinity. It was such a blessing to be able to get my Master of Divinity degree online, studying while living and ministering overseas. Liberty has really been the leading institution in embracing online education and I am so grateful for that opportunity. Many other seminaries I wanted to attend would allow perhaps half of my classes to be taken online, but the rest had to be taken on campus. For my ministry situation, that would not have worked. Without Liberty, I would not have been able to benefit from seminary training during the past three years. It was also very special to be a part of the largest graduating class in the history of the school where my father was one of the first students to enroll.

I would also be remiss if I failed to publicly thank Abby for her constant support in enabling me to complete my studies over the past three years. Our life has been wild, adventurous, and exciting, while also being stressful, tiresome, and painful at times. Abby has supported me through wise stewardship, freeing up the finances to pay for my tuition. She has managed our house and children well to give me the time needed for my studies. And she has kept our life  organized, planned, and running while I was too busy to stay ahead. I hereby award the honorary Master of Mothering degree to my faithful and hard-working wife, Abby St.Clair, and thank her for her tremendous sacrifice to make this achievement possible. I couldn’t have done it without you, babe!

Our Family…
…is thoroughly enjoying being with our relatives again. Being away from them has been the most difficult part of our life overseas. For the most part, Kyle and Ellee have been unaware of how difficult it is to be away from family. When we first moved to Africa, Kyle was only 2 and Ellee wasn’t even born yet. They now wake up every morning excited about coming over to Lollee and Pops’ house to play with their aunts, uncle, and cousins. We will be sure that they enjoy these next few months at home, because I expect that leaving for Africa will be much more difficult for them this time.

As soon as graduation was over, we took off to Florida for a week of vacation at the beach. We really enjoyed sharing a condo with Abby’s brother’s family and having her parents and siblings in the same complex as well. It was a relaxing and fun time for us together. On top of that, we took one day and drove down to Disney’s Magic Kingdom to celebrate Ellee’s birthday and let the kids meet some of their favorite movie characters. Ellee was thrilled to see Minnie Mouse in person and greeted her by saying, “Ellee loves your show!” Kyle also enjoyed the day and was quite taken with the princesses. It has just been very special to make memories with our families that the kids will remember for the years to come in Africa.

Our Schedule…
…is to be in the States until the end of August. Most of that time will be spent in the South, though we are planning to visit Illinois again and also our family in California. I am especially excited about helping out with an Upwards soccer camp at our sending church, Cornerstone. I love having the opportunity to invest in kids’ lives and sports provide a unique venue for making an impact. Soccer, in particular, is the only truly global game and is the fastest growing sport in America. By teaching kids the skills of “the beautiful game” we can also show them how to model a Christlike spirit in an arena often filled with egotism and rivalry. The football pitch provides a unique platform for evangelism and ministry anywhere around the world.

Our travel plan is to return to Africa on August 30. Our current support level is also near where it needs to be for us to return to Lesotho. We have had a number of one-time gifts and a couple more monthly commitments from some of you. As best we can tell, we need maybe $100 to $200 more in monthly commitments for us to be cleared to leave. If anyone is interested in joining our support team, please contact us and we can give you the details you will need. We are very much enjoying this time to catch up with all of you here in America. If you would like to get together with us sometime before we leave, please write us on Facebook or email and we would love to arrange a visit. God bless!

- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle, Ellee, & Sadie Kate St.Clair





Saturday, October 10, 2015

October 2015 Newsletter

Training Up Leaders in Africa

"80 percent of the world’s believers who are practicing their faith live in persecution… we are compelled to rethink our definition of “normal”… According to the Bible, persecution is normal, simply a natural by-product of faith.”
- Nik Ripken, The Insanity of Obedience

Exciting Times 
Our family is looking forward to much in the coming months.  As we write, we are sitting in South Africa awaiting the arrival of our new daughter, a little more than two months from our first TEE graduation in Mokhotlong, and less than three months from our first Home Assignment!
The pastors enrolled in Theological Education by Extension in Mokhotlong are set to finish the last of their books in early December and preparations for their graduation ceremony are underway.  It is encouraging to see their excitement as this monumental event approaches and to watch as they take ownership of the planning and arrangements.  We have twelve pastors/laymen who are qualified to graduate and they are looking into everything from graduation robes to a big graduation cake!  Over the past year, we have focused on hermeneutics at our TEE conferences and the pastors say they have learned much about how to preach God’s Word as a result.  We look forward to completing this first class of students and to seeing how God will use TEE to grow their ministries in the future.

Our Family of Four...
…is expected to welcome its fifth member in just two short weeks.  Abby has been seeing an OBGyn in South Africa, in a place called Hillcrest near Durban.  As with Ellee’s delivery in South Africa, we expect Abby to deliver in a hospital just like one would visit in the States, with medical care comparable to what one would receive there as well.  The doctor has been great and really understanding of our far-out living situation; we are thankful to have been connected with him for this pregnancy.  We have rented an apartment above someone’s garage about 15  minutes from the hospital for the duration of October.  Before leaving Lesotho, we went to the South African embassy in Maseru to receive extended visas so we have plenty of time to be in the country.  We drove down Sani Pass about a week ago and are grateful to God to be settled and ready for the delivery.  Excitement is heavy in the air and Kyle and Ellee are beside themselves as they anticipate meeting their new sister!

Plans and preparations...
…for our Home Assignment have been falling into place over the past weeks.  We booked our tickets and are scheduled to arrive home on December 16th!  We are all very much looking forward to spending Christmas with our families!  Our travel schedule is also coming together for the early months of 2016 and we look forward to reconnecting with as many of you as we can.  We will be attending missions conferences at three of our supporting churches in Decatur, AL, Aiken, SC and Morton, IL.  For the holidays we will have a very special guest with us: our neighbor and pastor’s daughter, Joy (14), is booked to fly with us as well and we are excited for all of you to meet her!  She is a bright and sweet girl who loves to play with our kids in her free time.  We often find her pulling the stroller out of the back room and taking Ellee on walks around town.  This will be her first experience outside of southern Africa and she is giddy with excitement!  She will spend Christmas and New Year’s with us before flying back here to start her sophomore year of high school.

We are so grateful...
…that the Lord has provided an apartment for us to live out of while we are in Aiken.   While we will be traveling in and out a good deal, it will be good to have a home base for some sense of stability.  We’ve also been offered a van to use, which we are so thankful for, since we will now be using three carseats!  In the coming months, we will be posting on Facebook about smaller necessities we’ll have during our time home.

During our time on Home Assignment, our support will continue to run as usual through AIM.  If you have any questions regarding our support in this matter, please contact us.  We thank God that over the past three years, our support has remained around 100%!  That is something to give praise over!  Thank you all! 

Our future plans…
…are to continue with the work of TEE.  We hope to return to Lesotho in August and spend our next years starting new TEE groups around the country.  We have sought to run the program in a way that is repeatable and sustainable.  It is all run on local finances and by local leadership.  Our goal now is to spread the work to reach new areas and more pastors who seek training.  Then we can leave behind a healthy and growing program to national church leaders and move on to wherever God will take us next.  Many of you committed to support us through this three-year assignment and we are so grateful for your faithfulness.  We would love to hear in the next months whether or not you desire to continue that into our next assignment, so that we can make up any additional support during our time in America.  God bless you all! 
See you soon!

- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle & Ellee