"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."

Sunday, September 30, 2012

August 2012 Newsletter

August 2012
"It is exciting to think something so vital to the life and health of a Christian - which was practically inaccessible due to distance, illiteracy, and poverty - can now, with the efforts of a few dedicated workers, be brought to where people live so believers can grow."- Kevin Zwart, AIM Mozambique(on the TEE program)

After months of prayer...
...and correspondence, we have accepted our first assignment within AIM's Southern Region. We will spend our first 3+ years in Mokhotlong, Lesotho assisting a program called Theological Education by Extension (TEE).

In partnership with GEM...
...AIM began a program in Lesotho for educating national pastors and missionaries who are already involved in the work of the ministry. These men have neither the time nor the money to go to a Bible college or seminary to further their understanding of the Bible. Through this program, a group of trained missionaries is able to bring theological education to the pastors as they minister in their area. Jonathan will be serving as the TEE coordinator for eastern Lesotho, under the leadership of Ntate Joseph Mpakaneane in western Lesotho. During our time in Mokhotlong, Jonathan will continue his online seminary studies with Liberty, though initially we will focus solely on adjusting to our new language and culture. 

A New Foreign Language
While English is considered a national language in Lesotho, the common language there is called Sesotho. Given that the TEE program is taught in Sesotho, our family will be working to learn this language in order to effectively communicate with the Basotho people. After our three-week-long Africa Based Orientation in Kenya, we will move initially to the capital of Lesotho (Maseru) where we will spend somewhere from four to six months working under Ntate Joseph, learning the program and language. Following that, we will be moving into Mokhotlong to begin our work there. As mission work is all about reaching people, we hope to be able to develop relationships within our town quickly and minister to all whom the Lord sends our way! 

The city of Mokhotlong...
...we are told is much smaller than a large city yet more advanced than a rural village. It has fairly reliable electricity, running water, and internet access. The area is extremely mountainous with moderate to cool temperatures year-round. We have seen many pictures of this region and are very excited about moving there.

Over the past two months...
...our support has more than doubled! We are still working hard to have all of our finances arranged to leave in January of 2013. We have been very encouraged as we watch many of God's people stand up and commit to supporting the work He is doing in Africa. According to our records, we have over 68% of our monthly support pledged and about 54% of our outgoing expenses have already been sent in. Between Jonathan working full time and studying through Liberty, we have been meeting with families here in South Carolina to share with them our plans for the ministry. When Jonathan completes his first semester on the 18th of this month, he will have more free time to meet with the few other churches we have connections with here in Aiken. We are excited to already have a buyer for our car when we leave as well as for much of our furniture. It feels great to have very little holding us back now!

Please be praying...
...that the rest of our support will continue coming in and that we will be able to leave in January. God has been faithful to us and all of our needs are being met. We are continually surprised by the way God moves upon people's hearts. Several of the families that have committed to support us have contacted us on their own initiative, wanting to be involved in our lives. We have been able to see families commit very sacrificial gifts and we pray that the Lord will repay them according to their generosity. We have been humbled at the outpouring of support and love and prayer that we are receiving.

Kyle is growing...
...faster than we could have imagined. I had to close by telling you about him, because he is just the biggest blessing that the Lord has given us. He makes every day so joyful and happy! Being away from him is the hardest part of Jonathan working every week at Chick-fil-A. He is the happiest little boy we have ever known and we thank the Lord for him every day! So, from all of us, lots of love to all of you and thank you for your ministry in our lives. May the Lord bless and keep you!

- Jonathan, Abby & Kyle St.Clair
(803) 645-0822

June 2012 Newsletter

June 2012
"Are you a Christian? Then you have some part to play in making Jesus known. It may be in another part of the world or it may not. You need to find out how and where God is leading you."
- Duane Elmer

Living Cross-Culturally... 
...is a challenge that most people won't have to face in their lives. Yet, in our ever-shrinking world, more and more people are finding themselves coming into contact with other cultures, whether through business connections, ministry opportunities, or the immigration of people to our home country. How, then, can we Christians use these opportunities to spread the gospel?

Passing It On
As part of our Outbound training, Abby and I have been reading through a number of books assigned to us by AIM. One of those books has been especially insightful and we wanted to pass along some of the truths we've been learning, in hopes that you may be able to pray for us more specifically and maybe even to aid you when your own life crosses with an unfamiliar culture. The book is called "Cross-Cultural Connections" by Duane Elmer.

Right, Wrong and Different
Culture typically defines the way things are done. Each time a person encounters someone who does things differently than themselves, he tends to label the other person's actions in one of these ways - right, wrong, or different. Often, we see our way as the right way and the other person's way as the wrong way. One of the great challenges of living in a new culture is being able to discern what things are right, what things are wrong, and what things are merely different. As more experience is gained living in a host culture, the lines we draw of right and wrong practices will likely include more labels of "different" and fewer labels of "right" or "wrong". We must be careful, however, that we never label as merely different something that God has explicitly labeled right or wrong. In our particular ministry - theological education - it will be critical for us to have wisdom in identifying cultural differences in light of biblical standards. Please pray that we will faithfully teach God's Word and rightly apply its truths to the cultures we will be living in! 

As the author stated...
"If we treat everything as right and wrong, we do a great disservice to the human diversity God has placed in his creation. If we treat everything as a cultural difference, we do a great disservice to the God who authored an uncompromising word of truth."

Our family plans...
...are continuing forward. During the past months, we have been making phone calls and visiting with families and friends whom the Lord has connected us to, sharing our plans for ministry in Africa and praying for the Lord to prompt hearts to join our support team. We have been very encouraged by the response of God's people. Each week at church, it seems, we have people I sing with in choir asking how our fund-raising is going and church members saying that the Lord has led them to help support us financially. Since our last letter, we've updated our numbers in the chart below. We are now at about 22% of our monthly support and have 34% of our one-time expenses already sent in. In addition, three churches and twelve families have committed to help us and are praying about how much the Lord would have them contribute. Please pray that the Lord will continue to provide. We trust that we will; He has always proven faithful!

Also this month...
...I have been accepted to study at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. My desire to teach in a seminary or Bible college in Africa required that I get my master's degree from an accredited seminary. I also needed to be able to complete my studies fully online, as I won't be able to take block classes on campus in the US. I will be studying for a Master of Divinity in Missiology. Of course, this will be a big expense for us and we are planning our personal budget now to provide for the costs. We are committed not to take on any student loans or debt. I feel this is the most responsible way to manage things and we have faith that God can stretch our finances as long as we honor Him in our stewardship. Also, I'm very excited to be able to study at the same school my father graduated from!

Thank you all...
...for your prayers. Once you've read this, would you take a small bit of time to email us back? We would love to hear of any news in your lives and know how we may continue to pray for you. We pray that you are each growing in your walk with the Lord. We pray that the Lord is preparing you for whatever ministry He has in your future. And we pray that the Lord will knit our hearts together during this time of preparation as we all look forward to the work that we will be a part of in Africa - wherever He sends us on that vast continent! God bless you all, dear friends.

- Jonathan, Abby & Kyle St.Clair
(803) 645-0822

April 2012 Newsletter

April 2012

"Any temporal possession can be turned into everlasting wealth. Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality."
- A.W. Tozer

...are often difficult for us to discuss in our culture. Maybe it's because of the high level of privacy that we Americans have worked into our lives. Maybe it's because of our own pride, not wanting our income to be compared or contrasted to that of our peers. But the fact is, we all need money in order to live. So rather than to shirk speaking about money, we thought we would take this newsletter to explain the financial aspect of our ministry.

Why Raise Support?
Africa Inland Mission is a faith-based missions organization. Unlike denominational mission boards, AIM and each of its members has no guaranteed income. All of our finances are received from churches, organizations, or individuals on a month-to-month basis, as the Lord prompts their hearts. This requires us to rely on God in a very practical way every month and allows us to have a more personal partnership with each of our supporting friends. Our desire is to develop a relationship of mutual encouragement, love, and prayer with every member of our support team.

Our Monthly Budget
One of the biggest advantages of serving with a group that has been ministering in Africa for over a hundred years is having the experience and knowledge of the various costs that will be required. As with anyone who desires to be a good steward of their God-given resources, we wanted to have the accountability of a financially sound institution to validate that our money is being used wisely and efficiently. So that all of you may see this as well, we will explain in this letter the breakdown of our monthly budget and also share with you an update of our current support pledges. 

Each month...
...our income will be divided into nine different categories, as shown in this graph. Those categories cover (from largest to smallest) salary, health insurance, U.S. administration, retirement, housing, social security, ministry expenses, home assignment, and international administration.

Over the past month...
...God has already begun to raise up our support team. Since being appointed with AIM last month, we have had six families commit to support us monthly. Three of those families also helped to support us during our ministry in Mexico and three of them are new supporting families. For any who didn't see our last letter, our support target that AIM has set for us is $4576 per month and outgoing expenses total $35989. Below is a chart which will show how much of our targets have been pledged by faith already.

What motivates us...
...is the same thing that motivated the apostle Paul. As he wrote to the Philippian believers, he expressed his gladness that they had the opportunity to give again to meet his needs in the ministry. He wrote, "Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit." We want to present our ministry to you as an opportunity to sow material seed and reap spiritual fruit. We want you to be able to share in the great rewards we will one day receive as we meet the many Africans who will be reached with the gospel as a result of our investment in native pastors and missionaries.

Our support team...
...is coming together out of those who will pray, those who will give monthly, and those who are giving one-time gifts. We thank each and every one of you who is contributing to our ministry in these ways. If the Lord is leading you to be a part of our team, please contact us at the information below. We would love to partner with you for the glory of God in this world!

- Jonathan, Abby & Kyle St.Clair
(803) 645-0822