After several months of praying, waiting, and planning, we are finally able to update all of you on what the Lord has been doing in our lives and where He is leading us for the future. As we've already written, we came home from Mexico at the end of August and have been traveling to various places around the States. We had a very blessed time in Mexico serving the Lord with Iglesia Bautista Cristo Te Ama and ministering to various other churches and villages. Through our time there, the Lord taught us many things and, we believe, began preparing us for the ministry He has for us in the future.
During our time in Mexico, the Lord began to really shake up our plans for the future and put us in a place where we had to fully trust Him and simply walk day by day following what He showed us. In May, our home church contacted us by email and asked us to pray about coming back to Illinois and serving full-time as pastoral staff. Obviously, this was quite a shock to us and would involve a drastic change of plans, but it was only asked that we pray about it. So we did. There were several questions we wrestled through before God. Did He really want us to leave the mission field and go back to the States? Was there no one else to fill the position at Cornerstone? Are we abandoning the billions of people who have yet to hear the gospel? Or would we be better able to reach them by being a strong support and a voice for them from the US, financially backing native missionaries who were going to the unreached areas of the world? As we prayed through these things, we both agreed that we only want to follow the Lord's plans for us - and He had brought this about; we did not pursue it ourselves. We would not want to stay in missions if the Lord wanted us serving in Illinois, nor would we want to move back to America if the Lord wanted on the other side of the earth. So we determined that we would follow up on this opportunity, trusting that the Lord would close the door if He did not intend for us to walk through it.
Thus, for the past three months, we have been communicating with the deacons and elders of Cornerstone, visiting twice for interviews, spending much time in prayer, and waiting for the Lord to make His will clear to us. We have been trusting that if the Lord wants us to come back, He will make it perfectly clear. That is how He has always operated in our lives. Each time we have had to make a major life decision, all of our spiritual counselors, our authority structure, our parents, and everyone involved in the decision-making process has been in agreement and confirmed what we felt the Lord wanted us doing. There has always been a clear peace - that sometimes passes understanding - when we were following the Lord's will. So after much time and prayer spent on this decision, we don't collectively have that peace. We feel, therefore, that God is closing this door.
So here is where we stand now. Our most immediate plans are to make preparations for our son to be born near the end of February. We will be moving down to Aiken, South Carolina - where Abby's family lives and our other supporting church, Millbrook Baptist, meets - until the baby is born. We plan to rent an apartment for a few months and though we're still living on support, I plan to find some short-term work to supply for the extra financial needs we'll have for hospitals and doctors, etc. As far as ministry goes, we do still feel that the Lord is leading us away from Mexico and Central America. There are a number of reasons for that - the main being the shortage of unreached people and the surplus of missionaries trying to reach them. We have put in applications to Operation Mobilization and are in contact with their placement staff concerning a need they have in Spain for an assistant pastor in an area with no other gospel witness. We are just in the opening stages of this process with them and, in truth, we really have no idea where the Lord will place us. Spain obviously caught our attention because we can both speak Spanish. But we are honestly willing to go anywhere the Lord leads. It is always exciting to follow the Lord! Yes, it requires much faith and involves a lot of uncertainty, but we love knowing that He is in control and will work out His plans for us.
For any who don't know, Operation Mobilization is an independent mission board which has been sending out missionaries all over the world for many years, whose goal is to mobilize the church to reach the last unreached areas and unreached people groups of our world with the gospel. They oversee the technical operations of missionaries, manage their financial situations, and handle the international paperwork. They do not finance their missionaries, as the International Missions Board does. Each missionary family is responsible to raise their support from supporting churches and individuals. If the Lord does indeed lead us overseas, we may need to do some more support raising, as the cost of living is higher in Europe than in Mexico, but we will let you know that when we have more information on our financial needs. OM's USA base is in Atlanta, Georgia, so will be able to travel there easily from Aiken for meetings, stateside training, etc. over the next several months. They commission and send out their new missionaries in August and in January. So if our finances are raised, we could move overseas in August; if it requires more time, we wouldn't be leaving at least until January.
Most of all, we covet your prayers. As we live in Aiken, we plan to continue ministering to Spanish-speakers and other needy people by volunteering at Christ Central Ministries. And we look forward to being able to be involved in the ministries of Millbrook as well. We thank you also for your faithful support over this past year. You have enabled us to follow the Lord's leading and, we pray, impact many lives for the kingdom of God. Please be praying for wisdom as we move through this process and for Abby as she carries our son for a few more months. We'll keep you all posted on our lives and plans as they progress. God bless you all!
- Jonathan and Abby St.Clair