"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."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How Do We Discern God's Plans for Our Life? - PRAYER REQUEST

I've heard the phrase "a world of possibilities" before. And I know no other phrase that describes the mission field more accurately. Abby and I will soon be facing the toughest decision we have had to make thus far in our marriage: Where does God want us to serve Him full-time? Quite literally, there is "a world of possibilities."

What has God shown us up to this point?
1. He has called us to serve Him for the rest of our lives on the mission field.
2. He has directed us to Mexico for a year of on-field missions training.
3. He has burdened us to reach the unreached people of the world.

My mind if often overwhelmed by the possibilities of where we could serve; the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few...........
  • In a highly evangelized country like Mexico, there remain people groups who have never heard of Jesus Christ and some who do not even have a Bible in their native language.
  • The religion of Islam is now the fastest growing religion in the world. On the surface, Islam often teaches principles strikingly similar to Christianity, declaring itself a religion of peace (while truly bringing peace to no one), and therefore deceiving many into thinking that Muslims and Christians serve the same God, only by different names.
  • China, while being under the oppression of Communist leaders and closed to the gospel, now boasts not only the world's largest population, but is very near to surpassing the United States as the world's #1 sending country for evangelical missionaries.
  • Europe continues on as one of the world's most cold and spiritually dead regions of the world, where missionaries may well spend years of faithful service before seeing a single soul won for Christ.
  • The continent of Africa is rocked by the effects of AIDS, while sex-trafficking continues to increase, the number of orphans multiplies exponentially, and people starve or die of malnutrition every day.
  • The Middle East is a boiling kettle of anger, hatred, and religious fanaticism ready to erupt at any moment into the devastation of its own people and the people of Israel.

Yet in the midst of these chaotic, last days of our earth, there remains great hope........

  • The Wycliffe Bible Translators are on pace to have the Bible translated into every known world language by the year 2025, a mere 15 years away.
  • God's sovereign election of Muslims to salvation is coming to pass by the millions. Old men are dreaming dreams and young men are seeing visions of Jesus Christ, just as the Bible prophesied would happen in "the last days".
  • The underground of church of China is growing in spite of persecution with an estimated 10,000 people per day turning to Jesus.
  • Institutions like Moffat Bible College in Kijabe, Kenya are training national pastors from all over Africa to take the gospel back to their different tribes who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Gospel for Asia is sending out tens of thousands of native missionaries to go into those parts of the 10/40 window which have never been reached with the message of salvation in Jesus Christ.
  • Operation Mobilization is pushing forward with the Near East Initiative to reach out to Muslims and share with them the true Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
  • The Joshua Fund is raising money to provide finances, Bible, material resources, bomb shelters, tons of food, hospitals, medical personnel, gospel materials in Arabic and in Hebrew, in an effort to bless God's chosen people of Israel and protect them in the coming wars with neighboring countries.

So the question, then, to a young missionary couple is: Where does God want us to serve?

If this were a secular business and a mere career choice, the answer could be more simply found. We go where we could be the most comfortable. Or we go where we would most like to live. Maybe we go where we can have the greatest adventure. Or we may go where we would feel the most safe. But in this calling - this spiritual warfare - the choice is not our to make. Our commanding Officer will tell us where to go.

So what must we do to discern God's direction for our life? How does He guide us into His will?

  1. We must stay in close fellowship with God in order to clearly hear His voice.
  2. We must keep our eyes open to the opportunities the Lord brings across our path.
  3. We must listen to the counsel of those godly counselors God has placed in our life.
  4. We must follow each step that God shows us - walk through every door God opens.

Please pray for us. This is a decision that could easily be made by our emotions. This is a decision that could easily be affected by our fears. This is a decision that could determine the course of our lives. And this is a decision that could change the world!

Please pray for us!

"Find out where God is working and go and join Him there." - Henry Blackaby

Monday, December 7, 2009

Commissioning Service

For anyone who wasn't able to attend, we had a wonderful commissioning service yesterday morning at Cornerstone. Pastor Steve preached a message from I Samuel 17 challenging Abby and me as we head towards the mission field early in 2010. The five main points of the sermon were represented by the five stones David took into battle against Goliath:

- Stone #1: Divine Purpose (I Sam.17:46) - "...that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,"
- Stone #2: Divine Presence (I Sam.17:47) - "...For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand."
- Stone #3: Divine Position (I Sam.17:45) - "...I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts..."
- Stone #4: Divine Power (I Sam.17:37a) - "...The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear..."
- Stone #5: Divine Promise (I Sam.17:37b) - "...he will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."

A few notable quotations from the sermon:

"A fanatic is one who won't change his mind and won't change the subject."

"The true test of your character is what it takes to stop you."

"If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. So stand anyway." - John R. Rice

"You must go through the lion and the bear to get to the giant."

At the end of the service, we gathered together with the church leadership, the mission committee, and the rest of the church body to pray. We closed the service by singing together, "Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus". It was a very challenging, yet encouraging way to leave our home church for the work God is calling us into.

Thank you, Pastor Steve, for your impact on our lives!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Travel Plans

Here's a quick update for anyone who needs to know our travel plans for this next month. Abby and I are in Branson, Missouri right now and have been visiting my grandparents here for the past few days. In the morning, we drive back to Morton to speak at the adult Christmas Party at Cornerstone. Sunday morning will be our commissioning service and our last Sunday at Cornerstone for the next year or so. We will then be driving on Friday the 11th to Michigan to spend time with our family there and I will be preaching at Sumnerville Bible Baptist Church on Sunday the 13th. Then just before Christmas, we will drive down to South Carolina to be with the rest of our family and visit our other supporting church, Millbrook Baptist. Then we will be flying out of Atlanta and into Mexico on January 8th.

For all of you at Cornerstone, it has been an honor and a true joy to minister with you for the past 4 1/2 years. We can't wait to get back from Mexico and share with you how the Lord has been working. We hope to see many of you this next week before we leave. To everyone at Millbrook, we are looking forward to being back with you all for about 2 weeks before we leave and would also like to catch up with many of you while we are there. God bless you all and thank you for your many prayers and investment in us.

Oh, and one more thing. Some dear people in our church have been making up some prayer cards for us to give to our supporters. We will be getting those to you very shortly with information on how to stay in touch with us and how to pray specifically for us. We love you all!

- Jonathan & Abby

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Watching God Provide

It's a fine line to walk. You want to step out on faith and watch God provide for you in ways you can't even imagine now. But you also want to be a responsible husband and wait for the Lord to provide now, proving that it is His time for you to go. I've been walking this tightrope for several months now.

Abby and I have done about everything we believe we can to wait on, pray for, and pursue the finances to get us to Mexico. We've been sitting at 45% of our full-time budget for almost a year now. So in an effort to adjust our plans and be active in trying to get to the mission field, we sat down and recalculated a smaller budget that we could be able to live on during our first year of missions training in Mexico. We called up our financial planner and missions committee chairman to get together and get their advice on our new budget. Can we go? Can we go?

I so appreciate the counsel of those two men. They strike that balance well; they walk the tightrope. We have faith that God will provide. But we also want to be wise and wait for the Lord to provide. The conclusion of our meeting - we will wait to leave until the Lord provides another $700 per month. We felt that was the right balance. It was being a good steward of our finances and also going out on faith.

I began to prepare myself for the next step. We wait. We keep praying. Maybe we could call up some people who could help. Maybe the Lord knows we're not ready to go yet. Whatever that step is, we'll do it. But as always, God showed up.

"God is never in a hurry, but He's always on time." - Unknown

Within hours of the meeting, we began hearing from people who had committed to support us, but weren't sure how much yet. One family, two families, three, people from Millbrook, people from Cornerstone - by the end of the day another $425 per month had come in. The next day another $150; as of today we are $45 away from that $700 extra per month, with one family who has committed to give the rest of whatever we lack. Bottom line, we have watched, God has provided!

Now I can only imagine what He'll do once we get to Mexico. Thank you to everyone who supports us. You are a blessing - probably more than you know.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ministry Update

Dear friends and family,

The Lord has been doing a lot in our lives this past year, so we wanted to write all of you to catch you up. Since we last wrote, Abby and I have been married and we’re now living in Morton, Illinois for a few more months before heading to the mission field. We’re both waiting tables at Cracker Barrel to keep the bills paid and save a little for our future needs and I’ve also been leading music at Cornerstone.

Our plans have been adjusting a bit as the Lord has been revealing His plans for us. We will be spending our first year on the mission field at Mexico School of Missions in the Yucatán Peninsula near Cancun. You may remember from our first letter that our initial plan was to go to Jiménez, Chihuahua, Mexico to work with our missionaries Randy & Gwen Ashcraft. Well since that time, the Lord has been leading the Ashcrafts to move on to another mission field. So we believe that the Lord would have us dedicate our first year to missions training. At the School of Missions, Abby and I will be able to further our understanding of the language, work with church groups coming from the States on missions trips, minister to children, run vacation Bible school programs, assist national pastors in local church plants, and participate in evangelism. We are so excited to have the opportunity to receive training while being on the field and immersed in the culture the Lord has called us to.

The school year there starts in mid January and goes through August. We are planning to move to Mexico this coming January and get settled in before classes begin. It has been such a blessing to watch how the Lord has provided our prayer and financial support thus far. We have about 50 percent of our full-time budget of $4000/month already committed. The Lord has always been faithful to provide for us, so we know He will continue to do so as we get closer to leaving.

After our year of training, we will be determining where the Lord would have us to move long-term for church planting. We are open to anywhere He leads and feel called to the Spanish-speaking people of the world. Whether the Lord should direct us to another area of Mexico, Central or South America, or even a region of Spain, we will follow His leading.

Please be in prayer for these two things: 1.) That the Lord will continue to bring in our monthly financial support, and 2.) That we will be sensitive to His leading for our long-term ministry. These are our greatest needs right now.

If the Lord should lead you to support us financially, please send your one-time gift or monthly support pledge to our church address below and mark your gift for “St.Clair’s Mexico Support”. If you would like to receive our e-newsletter with prayer and praise updates, please email me at jonstclair14@gmail.com and I will add your email address to our database. We look forward to sharing with you the things that the Lord is accomplishing through our lives and your prayers. Thank you to all of you who already support us and pray for us faithfully. We are grateful to God for each of you and love you dearly. ¡Que Dios les bendiga!

In His Service,
Jonathan & Abby St.Clair

Cornerstone Baptist Church
c/o Ed Hauter, Missions Committee
P.O. Box 924
Morton, IL 61550

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Beginning Deputation

God's plan for us continues to unfold. The wedding is over and we're back in Illinois getting everything settled. Today and tomorrow, we'll be sending out our deputation letter to over 125 churches, some here in our area and others that we have contact with through friends and previous ministries we've served with.

Please be in prayer for us and for the churches that will be receiving our letter. We need God to raise up an army of believers who will truly have a part in this ministry with us. We don't just need finances. We need people who will pray for us regularly, people who will support us financially, and people who will stay in contact with us and consider us an extension of their ministry around the world. So please pray that God will move the hearts of the right people, the right pastors, and the right missions committees to join with us in ministry to Mexico.

God bless you all!

- Surrendered to His Service,
Jonathan & Abby St.Clair