"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."

Saturday, November 29, 2014

December 2014 Newsletter

Training Up Leaders in Africa
December 2014

“[Sports] can be a means of bringing honor, pleasure, and glory to God… They shape our character, in good ways and bad.  Out of these collisions come pride, humility, arrogance, courage, perseverance, fear, and a host of other character attributes… A football game is a furnace in which character is formed… godliness requires intentional and diligent pursuit.  Sports provide a context for that to occur.”
- Stephen Altrogge,
Game Day for the Glory of God

Bible, Family, and Football  
These are what occupy most of our time these days.  In this update, we’ll try to cover each of those and the role that they play in our current ministry and life here in Mokhotlong.
TEE Mokhotlong
The Bible, appropriately, is the main emphasis of our work here in Lesotho.  We seek to share it, live it, and teach its truths at every opportunity.  My main opportunity to do this is through the TEE program.  We now have 16 people officially enrolled in the Mokhotlong branch of TEE, about 12 of whom are very consistent in their studies.  They have completed all three books of New Testament Survey and topical books on discipleship, pastoral ministry, and basic theology.  They are now studying Old Testament Survey 1 and prayer.  In addition to our book studies, the pastors have been asking some deep and difficult questions in our weekly meetings.  Halfway through this year, the pastors requested that we start meeting twice a week, instead of once.  So during those meetings we’ve studied issues such as divorce, the “exception clause,” spiritual warfare, “African magic,” the canon of Scripture, biblical family roles, Greek word study on “love,” spiritual gifts/miracles, tithing, giving/finances, and missions.  Our next conference is scheduled for the second week in January.  I am especially excited about our new theme for 2015 conferences - biblical hermeneutics and expository preaching.  If there is one area that I sense to be lacking in most local churches, it is this one!  The pastors are also looking forward to these lectures, because they say to us “no one has ever taught us to preach.  They just gave us a Bible and a building and said, ‘You are the pastor now.’”  Last Sunday, I also had the opportunity to preach at our local church.  Pastor Ntsimane had preached the previous week on “The Present  Tense of Your Salvation,” an excellent message unlike any I’ve heard here in Lesotho.  So I tried to follow that up with a sermon on the book of 1 John called “The Marks of a True Christian.”  It was truly difficult to preach a whole book in one sermon, but I was grateful to be able to share.  We pray and trust that the Holy Spirit will make His Word come alive in the Basotho churches!
Football (Soccer)… 
…is the newest ministry hobby I’ve taken on.  My main reason is for the doors it opens.  Sports provide an instant connection, a quick camaraderie, and an open invitation into a person’s life.  First, I was approached about coaching a U-15 boys football team.  Next, I was invited by the local DiFA commissioner (District Football Association) to create and coach a boys’ league.  Then, I was invited to play on the local police football team.  I’ve also been recruited by four other teams to  play for them - not because I’m so great, but because I’m the international, the “sponsor,” or the fan favorite.  But mostly I stick with the police team, because I think they probably have the fewest Christians and churchgoers on their team.  On my own, I’ve begun studying football coaching and am planning during our 2016 home assignment to go to a coaches’ training camp and get licensed with the US Soccer Federation (conveniently located in Chicago, IL).  I’m also praying about flying to Malawi next year to learn more about sports ministry from Luke Voight and Sports Friends International.  Please pray for these new opportunities and also for protection during our games (I’ve already had to treat one broken leg during a police game).
Last month...
…we wrote about our new outreach team coming to minister among the shepherds.  Those guys have arrived and gotten settled now into their new “homes” in the mountains.  We stopped by to visit them on our trip back from Maseru this weekend.  They are a resilient bunch of “tough guys for Jesus.”  You really wouldn’t believe what their living situation is like without seeing it.  Please keep them in prayer for their physical health and adaptation to the rugged shepherd life.  It is all for the sake of the gospel!
Ellee walks, Kyle talks
Yes, Ellee has finally decided that she likes moving around on her feet instead of her knees.  And Kyle is our chattery little buddy.  Before Abby and I were married, she used to babysit this one little boy and I remember her saying, “I want to have a boy like this one day.  He just talks to me all the time and is my little buddy.”  Well, she got her wish!  Now she just has to get him to hush once in a while so she can talk.  We had a great visit from Lollee last month and always look forward to seeing family again.
This Thanksgiving...
…we are grateful for all of you who make our ministry here possible.  We trust that God is caring for each of your families just as He is caring for ours.  If there is any way that we can serve you, minister to you, or pray for you, please contact us at the email address below.  God’s blessings to all!
- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle & Ellee St.Clair

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 2014 Newsletter

Training Up Leaders in Africa
August 2014

“The potential for reaching every tribe, people, language, and nation and giving all the peoples of the world an opportunity to hear, understand, and respond to the gospel in their own culture requires an indigenous mission strategy.   There will never be enough cross-cultural missionaries and mission teams to reach all the people in the world.  The gospel must be shared and planted in a way that it can multiply among those who are receptive."
- Jerry Rankin and Ed Stetzer,
Spiritual Warfare and Missions

Keeping Warm
While all of our friends and families back home are busy dumping buckets of ice over their heads, we here in Mokhotlong are keeping the anthracite heater fired up and our cold weather jackets nearby.  The weather here is so confusing.  Everyone says winter is ending soon, but after a warm day will come a frozen one.  Just when we think we can unpack the short sleeves we’re back to the hoodies.  What an interesting life!
TEE Mokhotlong
Our Bible training program for pastors is going very well.  We have fifteen pastors enrolled in the program and nine of them are keeping pace, now studying books five and six of the curriculum.  The others have joined the program after we started in January or are studying at a slower rate (one of the advantages of TEE’s flexibility).  I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to see and hear how this work is affecting the pastors’ ministries.  Last Sunday, we visited the church of our eldest TEE pastor.  He told his church about his studies and was brought to tears when he spoke of our book on pastoral ministry called “The Shepherd and His Work.”  He said no book has ever opened up the Bible to him like that one.  Another pastor said that TEE is teaching him to preach the Bible’s message, not his own.  Several pastors have commented that before starting TEE, they would only pick a verse or two from the Bible and then shout and make a lot of noise about it in their sermons.  Our students have sort of labeled the program “Sekolo Sa Baruti” or “Pastors’ School.”  We have even overheard church members saying, “We heard that our pastor has joined some type of local Bible school and his preaching  has gotten so much stronger.”  Another of our pastors cheered, “I have never known how to study God’s Word like this before!  Now I will be able to help many of my people.  I can’t wait to preach to my church now!”  We praise God for giving us this assignment; this is some of the most fulfilling work we’ve ever done.
Earlier this month...
…I completed another of my semesters with Liberty.  Again, I tremendously benefitted from my reading and online studies for my courses.  I am over halfway finished with my degree now and, Lord-willing, am on pace to graduate during our home assignment in May of 2016.  For this fall, I am off of my formal studies and will be working on a few projects I’ve volunteered for.  My plan is to take my last three semesters in Spring 2015, Fall 2015, and Spring 2016.  We were also very blessed to learn that one of our supporting churches is planning to send their donation this year to a “Continuing Education” fund that AIM set up for us.  That means that my last semesters of seminary will all be covered!  What an answer to prayer!  Thank you, Lord and Fish Camp Fellowship.
Next month...
…we will be receiving five new members into our AIM Lesotho unit.  These are five single men from the US and South Africa who will be living as a team among the shepherds here in Lesotho.  This team means a lot to me in particular because of a research paper I was able to write on the shepherds for a seminary class last December.  Studying the lives of the shepherds helped me to combine mission theory with a real-life situation and to realize that the label “unreached people group” can  go beyond only race and language.  Instead, it focuses on any subgroup to which the gospel is not spreading because of some significant barriers.  The shepherds fit this category, even though they speak the same language as the Basotho people (who are 89% “Christian”).  The shepherds face religious, educational, geographic, cultural, and social barriers.  Thus AIM has been recruiting a team of single men to come live with the shepherds for two years and to share the gospel by a series of Bible stories designed to lead them to Christ using oral communication methods.  Please pray for this team as they endure the rugged mountain life for the sake of the gospel.  This is pioneer mission work! 
Kyle and Ellee...
…are very excited to be expecting a visit from Lollee in about five weeks.  Abby’s pretty excited to see her mom, too.  Ok, we all are!  It is very hard to be away from our families over here, so we love when some of our family is able to visit.  It will also be a late present for Abby whose birthday is next week.
We do request prayer...
for the shepherd team as they begin their work and for the continued success of TEE.  We thank God for His faithful provision and love each of you who prays for us and gives to help us serve here.  May the Lord bless you all richly this day!
- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle & Ellee St.Clair

Friday, June 20, 2014

June 2014 Newsletter

Training Up Leaders in Africa
June 2014

“AIM’s call has always been to the inlands, to the regions beyond, to the other sheep, to the places where there is no gospel . . . we are called to pioneer the church, not to take over the church.  We need to get in, plant the church, and move on.”
- Dr. Luke Herrin,
AIM International Director
Leadership Forum 2014

Winter in Lesotho

 Hello, friends and family!  It’s that time of year in Lesotho - time for frozen water pipes, fired-up heaters, and lots of hot tea and coffee.  This time brings us both challenges and blessings while we make repairs on the house, care for sick kids, and enjoy snuggling by the fire watching Curious George and World Cup football.  We thank the Lord for His constant care for us and for the beauty of snow, a reminder that He has washed away the scarlet stain of our sins and made us “as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

Two Conferences
Since our last update letter, I have had the opportunity of attending two different conferences which were both a huge encouragement to me.  The first of these was our first TEE Mokhotlong conference for our Basotho pastors.  This one-day conference is the part of our TEE curriculum that allows the pastors an opportunity to fellowship together, write exams to complete the books they have studied, listen to a lecture by a guest speaker, share a couple of meals, and spend time in prayer for each other’s ministries.  I was so blessed to see our pastors’ enthusiasm for their study of God’s Word.  All of our pastors who were able to attend passed both exams.  The most fun part of the conference was when they received their final test scores and started comparing to see who scored the highest.  It was a friendly spirit of competition, especially when a husband and wife would both take the test (Ntate Mpesi scored higher than his wife on the first test and she scored higher than he on the second!).  By taking and passing their exams, I feel like the pastors’ confidence in the program and their own studies has grown significantly.  They are  asking if they can recruit more people to study and want to make TEE T-shirts.  One pastor suggested that we take on a group ministry as TEE, instead of as individual churches.  It is encouraging to see the pastors take real ownership of the program and be motivated to study God’s Word further.  May God allow this spirit of Christian unity to spread!

My second conference…
…was AIM’s biannual leadership conference in Nairobi, Kenya!  I was very honored to be invited to this conference, for most of AIM’s international leadership have been serving in Africa for many years.  One man there had been with AIM for 45 years!  Our main goal during the week was to sharpen our mission’s focus.  AIM exists to plant the church among the unreached people groups of Africa.  At points in our history, we have branched out into many ministry areas and occasionally lost our focus for the unreached.  Our new international director, Luke Herrin, is working hard to restore that focus and help us to align all of our ministries to express that priority for the unreached.  We support this renewed focus wholeheartedly!  This is why we left Mexico and came to Africa.  Those who have never heard the gospel must be given the highest priority in mission efforts and our work, in particular, is to catalyze the local African churches to help reach the unreached on their continent.  I have heard this expressed before as triage.  It is not that those who have rejected the gospel are less important to God, but those who have never heard it should be given “more urgent” care, as in the case of large medical emergencies.

Abby and the kids…
…spent the week in South Africa with some of our team members from England.  This worked out well, because they have two boys about our kids’ ages and two older girls to help care for the kids as they had a “jolly old time” being together throughout the week.

Last month we celebrated...
Ellee’s first birthday!  We invited our Basotho neighbors over for dinner and cake and had a great time doting over our girl.  It is so exciting to watch as she grows and learns new things every day!  She is crawling all over the house now (usually following Mama!), chatting new phrases (“Uh-oh…”), giving kisses, and busily playing with her baby dolls and her big brother.  Thank you, Lord, for our sweet girl.

We are trying to stay warm…
…by making stews, soups and chili!  It really helps that our anthracite heater doubles as a cook-stove.  We will get a lot of use out of Abby’s cast iron pot this winter.

Thank you for your prayers and support…
…of our ministry.  Please pray for our kids’ health right now (cold / upset stomach).  Also pray for me (J) to be diligent in completing my semester (ends August 15).  Please contact us by email how we can pray for you as well.

- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle & Ellee St.Clair

AIM’s Global End:
“With priority for the unreached, Christ-centered churches among all African peoples.”

Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 2014 Newsletter

April 2014
“What will it look like then, when a local church, no matter the size, embraces the big vision of Jesus? The scorecard changes radically. Greatness is no longer measured by seating capacity.  Greatness is measured by sending capacity.”
- Jerry Rankin and Ed Stetzer, Spiritual Warfare and Missions

Back Home in Lesotho
Hello, friends and family!  We’re happy to send you this update from our home in Lesotho.  We’ve just come back from a month-long trip to the United States where we had the privilege to see many of you and meet new friends as well.  Our time in the States was extremely busy and extremely fast, but also extremely sweet.  We got to spend a lot of time with family and it was so fun to see Kyle and Ellee playing with their relatives that are usually so far away from us!
Missions Conferences
During our time at home, we were able to attend three different missions conferences in Alabama, South Carolina, and Illinois.  We had many opportunities to share our ministry to pastors in Lesotho with Sunday School classes, seniors’ luncheons, pastoral staff dinners, children’s clubs, and church congregations.  People seemed very interested and asked many questions, I think because few are familiar with training national pastors, fewer have heard of TEE, and still fewer know anything about Lesotho.  We were also able to spend a good amount of time with other missionaries, hearing of their ministries around the world and asking questions about the lessons they’re learning in their own contexts.  
Most of our time was spent traveling.  We saw Abby’s grandparents in North Carolina; my brother’s and sister’s families in South Carolina; my brother and his wife, my sister and her guy, and Abby’s sister in Florida; Abby’s aunt in Alabama; my parents and grandmother in Missouri;  Abby’s grandparents and relatives in Georgia; and our church families in Ilinois and South Carolina.  We were especially grateful for Abby’s family, who took two weeks off of work to travel the country with us.  This more than doubled our time to spend with them and made our travels easier and much more fun!  Most of our stops were determined by which place had a playground for all the kids to run off their energy.
Kyle’s Birthday... 
…was extra special this year, as we got to celebrate together with our families.  Last year was hard for us to be alone, celebrating our happy boy with only the three of us together.  This year Kyle enjoyed a “Monsters” party and received lots of small, flat, packable toys we could bring back to Africa.  It was also very special to see Ellee meet most of her family for the first time.  She took many pictures together with people and spent much of her time playing with her new cousin, Jeremiah, whom we also met for the first time.  

Meanwhile in Lesotho...
…the TEE program has continued on without me.  Before leaving, I asked my Sesotho language teacher if he would continue meeting with the pastors while I’m gone.  He did and has done an excellent job!  In my absence, four more students have joined the program and the group has completed the first two books in the TEE course.  That means we now have 10 local students in our group and 2 distance-learning  students studying in nearby regions.  We are now planning our first Mokhotlong conference for our pastors to write their exams and proceed with the course. 

This summer will be a busy one…
…as I’ve just registered for my next semester with Liberty.  My five classes will be divided into 8-week blocks, but because the summer is a shorter term, I’ll have two weeks that overlap.  Also, in June, I’ve been invited to AIM’s biannual international leadership conference in Kenya with two other men from our Lesotho team.  While I’m very excited about that week, I will still have assignments to do for seminary.  Please pray that the Lord will multiply my time and energy in the midst of this busy schedule!  We also have hopes of receiving some family visitors within the year, but that will certainly bring a relief rather than an extra burden.

God has been providing...
…for our needs in remarkable ways.  During our trip home we received many financial gifts, new supporting families, and a new supporting church.  Our support is around 100%, but if you are looking for any missionaries to support, we do know a few we could recommend!

We pray for you all...
...and would love to know how we may pray specifically.  If you have any special needs in your life that we may lift up before the Lord, please write us at the email address below and we will pray for your needs as a family. God bless you all and thank you for your investment in us.  Please continue to pray for us in our language learning.  Molimo o le hlohonolofatÅ¡e!
  • Jonathan, Abby, Kyle & Ellee St.Clair

Thursday, January 2, 2014

January 2014 Newsletter

January 2014
"To fulfill the need for theological education, Lesotho TEE seeks to bring biblical training into the context of the people, providing study books to work through at one’s own pace, in community study groups with other LTEE students, while continuing to serve in the ministry to which one has been called of God."
- LTEE Vision Statement
Happy New Year!
...from the St.Clairs in Africa! We hope you all had a blessed Christmas season with your loved ones. A new year always provides reason to reflect on the past and pray over the future in a new way. As we are only about a week away from our first anniversary in Africa, we are certainly recounting the blessings of this first year and looking forward with anticipation to what God will do through us in 2014.
In early December...
...Jonathan finished his third semester online with Liberty. He now has four more semesters to complete before he will have earned his Master of Divinity degree with a focus on missional studies. It was a long and packed semester with school, our move to Mokhotlong, and our conferences in Maseru for TEE and Johannesburg with AIM leadership. We're very thankful to have a break now from the pressure of assignments and due dates.
Life in Mokhotlong
We are still thoroughly enjoying our life here in the mountains. Jonathan works regularly with his language tutor and is making great progress on Sesotho, albeit a very tough language. Unlike Spanish, which has so many similarities to English, Sesotho is very foreign to us in its structure and sound. But taking time in the afternoons to spend studying and practicing Sesotho with a local man is proving to be effective for gaining understanding. Our neighbors and the people we come in contact with are friendly and welcoming and we feel very much at home here.
TEE (theological education by extension) will be launched here in Mokhotlong on January 11th. Jonathan is busying coordinating the details for the launch, securing a venue and making the necessary phone calls, etc. He was also to develop a full curricular plan (31 pages!) for LTEE as a final project in a seminary class. By now, he has visited nearly all the churches in Mokhotlong to make them aware of the program beginning. There is a lot of excitement from the Basotho for the program to begin. Our friend and local pastor, Ntate Ntsimane, told Jonathan recently that his church members are eagerly anticipating the start of TEE! Because the program will be led in Sesotho, Jonathan will be using a translator at least in the beginning. Weekly meetings, ministry outreaches and quarterly conferences will be some of the requirements for the TEE students. We are excited to begin!
Our Family
Abby has made contact with our local orphanage and has been approved to be a volunteer there once things come back to normal after the holidays. Touching Tiny Lives is working primarily with infants who are extremely malnourished and have lost one or both of their parents. Once health has been restored for the little ones, TTL works with the local communities to place the children back into the villages with a new primary caregiver - typically an aunt and uncle or a grandparent.
We had a nice Christmas which we spent with our new friends from Holland and also our Unit Leaders from South Africa. We were able to Skype with our families back in the States and had a few gifts from grandparents for Kyle and Ellee to open. We enjoyed a fairly traditional Christmas dinner and it felt good to continue on with some of our regular traditions with our children. It was tough to be away from home on such a special day, and as parents we shed a few tears. But, we were surrounded by the love of our new friends and in all, we had a blessed holiday.
Both Kyle and Ellee are doing well and growing up faster than we can believe. Kyle is eagerly anticipating his third birthday on March 2 and talks daily of our upcoming trip to the US. He can't wait to see his grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins! We are looking forward to visiting with our family, friends and participating in the three conferences we have been invited to attend. We are also eager for our loved ones to meet Ellee; it's hard to believe she'll be 9 months old before she meets any of the St.Clairs! We arrive in Atlanta on Feb 19 and have a full month of conferences and travels planned. We're greatly looking forward to seeing all of you who are at Cornerstone and Millbrook!
Over the past few months, our support level has still been fluctuating between $300-$500/month short. However, we have been blessed by how the Lord has provided in unexpected ways. Still we pray that the difference will be made up and that our support level will become more consistent.
We thank God for all of you...
...who support and encourage us through prayer and finances and feel honored to have served here for a year already. In 2013, we moved ourselves and all our stuff ten times, which as you can imagine was quite exhausting. We were so blessed by how God provided a home for us in Mokhotlong even when it looked as if there were no homes available and are so thankful to now be settled once again. As of yesterday, we have finally packed away all our suitcases and actually have a wardrobe to put our clothes in. I (Abby) never want to spend another year living out of suitcases! We have seen the Lord provide for us, stretch us, change us and teach us during this year. Most exciting was welcoming our daughter into the world this year and watching her grow these past seven months! 2014 has a lot to live up to, but at least we hope the coming year will be more settled than the past!
- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle & Ellee St.Clair