Dear family and friends,
At this point last year, we were at a very similar place, but with very different directions. Last year, we were on the way to Candidate Week with Operation: Mobilization without any specific leading on where God would place in the world. This year, we are on the way to Candidate Week with Africa Inland Mission (AIM) with plans to move to Kenya and teach in a Bible college, training national pastors and missionaries to reach Africa.
On February 13-18, Abby, Kyle and I will be driving to Atlanta to meet with AIM's US staff for a final week of interviews, training, and ministry. If we are accepted by AIM, we will begin the process of raising a support team again and leave for Africa as soon as the Lord provides.
This past year has been a very trying time for us, in one sense. God's timing is not our own and it can be difficult to wait on the Lord. We have tried to faithfully pursue every door that the Lord opens to us. During times when God closes doors, we have sometimes felt like we're getting nowhere. So we just wait, pray, seek wisdom, and pursue the next open door God presents.
At the same time, this past year has been one of great joy for us. I could not put into words how much Kyle has changed our lives. I'm sure every parent remembers feeling this way. Every day we live with him is full of joy and laughter. Abby and I have both said that before Kyle, we loved each other wholly, as deeply as we knew how. But having Kyle has deepened the level of love that we possess. We love him more than we thought we could. Not only do I love Kyle more, but I love Abby in a greater way than before. And I appreciate her so much more as well. I'd seen her be a wonderful wife, sweet homemaker, faithful companion and partner in ministry; but now I'm seeing what a great mother and caregiver she is as well. So our life is happier than ever. Even more, we can see God's purpose in keeping us here in the States when we wanted to be overseas instead. He has given us this time to learn to be good parents and set a foundation for the rest of life with our children.
To give you a brief rundown of the past year, we went to our Candidate Week at OM and at the end of that week they decided not to accept us. We've never been given any specific reason why they decided so, but we just took it as from the Lord that He had some other plan for us. The following week, we went to Cornerstone for Missions Conference and spent time with Paul and Leah Manyara about their ministry at Moffat Bible College. After some discussion with them and much time in prayer, we contacted Moffat about our desire to move to Kenya and join in their ministry. For three months, we were in contact with the Manyaras, the academic dean, and the principal. They said that they would love to have us come, so we then contacted AIM and began applying to serve with them. We've been in that process since September and are now in the final application stage with them. After Candidate Week, we are planning to go to Cornerstone's Missions Conference again.
During our time here in Aiken, I've begun seminary classes and am working towards a Masters Degree in Theology. After I complete that I plan to study further for a Master of Divinity degree. I am learning much and thoroughly enjoying my classes. I know that everything I am learning will further equip me to teach at Moffat and aid me in any other ministry the Lord presents us with. The Lord also provided for us to pay the entire cost for my classes upfront, without going into debt or making monthly payments. I have also been involved in the music ministry here at Millbrook, our other supporting church, by singing in choir, praise team, special music, and occasionally playing in the orchestra. Abby has volunteered to be the director of the young girls ministry (GA's) and has been doing an excellent job, from everything I am hearing. It has been nice to be involved in the ministry here, even while waiting for the Lord to direct us elsewhere.
To all of our Cornerstone friends, we are so looking forward to seeing you again. We also plan to stay for some extra time apart from the conference and would like to get together with as many of you individually as we can. Lord-willing, we will be making plans for moving to Africa by then and we would love to sit down and share with you personally more details on what we will be doing. We've been away from Cornerstone for a long time now and I can't tell you how much we miss our church family there.
As we go to Candidate Week, the cost for our time there will be $1500, which we have been trying to save up for out of our past month's support money. If any of you feel led of God to help us with that cost, our monthly support is still being sent through Cornerstone and you may send any gifts to them with a separate note designating it for our support.
God bless you all as you continue in faithfulness to Him. We love you and can't wait to catch up with you soon!
- Jonathan, Abby & Kyle St.Clair