"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."

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November 2016 Newsletter

Back in Mokhotlong
Greetings from Lesotho once again. Our family has completed our home assignment and we are now settled back into life in Africa. We arrived back here at the beginning of September. It is really amazing to see how seamlessly the kids reentered their life in Mokhotlong and reconnected with our friends and neighbors here at home.

While We Were Gone
Mokhotlong is growing! We returned in September to find several new buildings, houses, and businesses being built in town. The kids’ favorite is the new Fish & Chips restaurant that serves a wide variety of menu items - including soft serve ice cream (sometimes). This is the first real restaurant to open in our town. It is run by a friendly Indian man named Jinnu, who quickly identified himself to us as a Christian. He often runs the store while wearing his “I Love Jesus” hat proudly. Even more exciting to Abby is the Shoprite grocery store that is supposed to be opening soon. She will be very pleased to be able to get more of our food here locally, instead of having to wait until we drive into South Africa again. I have been most encouraged by learning that the TEE program has gone on in our absence. Ntate Bongata has kept up his leadership of the work and is now teaching a new group of about 12 students. Some of them are leaders in the churches where our TEE graduates minister. Others are church planters from nearby villages. I also learned that one of our TEE graduates, who was not affiliated with any particular church, has moved into a village across the river to plant a new church. Throughout all of our time here, our goal has been to develop the ministry in such a way that it can be handed over to local leadership and continue on whenever the Lord takes us away from here. It is tremendously encouraging to see that happening even now. We give God all of the praise and glory for what He has done thus far and we are asking for His blessing and wisdom as we work for the next two years to spread the TEE ministry around the country. Our goal in this assignment is to make TEE more well known and more accessible to pastors throughout Lesotho by helping our TEE graduates and other qualified leaders to start and lead new study groups in other cities.

This past weekend…
…Bongata and I were invited to join the TEE group from Maseru for their quarterly conference.  The topic of study was to be evangelism and the leadership decided to make the conference an outreach event in a mountain village. They wanted to lecture on the principles of evangelism and then give the students practical, hands-on experience in doing evangelistic ministry. In addition, the TEE committee partnered with the Scripture Union of Maseru to present the Jesus film in the village and to introduce the TEE pastors to the idea of sports evangelism. So we took the beautiful 5-hour drive from Mokhotlong to the Thaba Tseka district to help lead this special event. I think it was probably the best conference we’ve ever done. One of the TEE students in the Maseru group is a pastor who has planted a church in that rural village. After presenting the film that evening, probably 80-100 people from the village stood up to receive Christ as their Savior. Ntate Joseph then introduced them to the pastor, so that he can begin to follow up on their decisions and seek to disciple these new converts.

To make wise use of our time...
…we have also undertaken another project. Bongata and I have begun writing a Sesotho Bible commentary that we intend to publish. We noticed last year that once our pastors finish the TEE course, there is really not much else available to help them in Bible study and interpretation, unless they can speak English well. So we thought it would be incredibly helpful if we were to create the first commentary/Bible survey available in Sesotho. It will take a tremendous amount of effort, but we have begun to work on it already. Our goal is to give a brief overview of each book of the Bible, explaining any background material that is necessary to understanding the book and offering help on many of the passages that are especially significant for Basotho pastors to grasp. Please pray for us, that we will be able to be efficient in this work and to complete the whole project within the next two years. I believe it is by the Lord’s leading and trust that He will bring it to completion.

We want to thank each of you…
…for making our time in America so joyful and refreshing. We loved being able to catch up with most of you and to just be a part of our home churches once again. The truth is that it is often very difficult to be so far away from our friends and families and life can get very lonely at times. But you all made us feel welcome and at home again, just as if we’d never left. We look forward to these next two years in Lesotho and will be continuing to ask God for direction on where He will want us to serve next. God bless you all!

- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle, Ellee, & Sadie Kate St.Clair

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

August 2016 Newsletter

Back to Africa  
Three weeks from now, we will be in Atlanta boarding a plane for Johannesburg on our way back to Lesotho. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in America and we have been very refreshed both spiritually and physically. While we look forward to being back in our home in Africa, saying goodbye to our families is never easy. Please keep our family in your prayers this month.

The Next Two Years
Our next assignment with AIM is to continue establishing the work of TEE in Lesotho. During our first three years, our assignment was to move to Lesotho and start the TEE program in Mokhotlong. It was the goal by the end of those three years to turn that group over to a qualified national believer who could take the leadership of the TEE program in Mokhotlong.We were pleased to see God do exactly that by bringing my good brother Ntate Bongata to work with me in TEE. He is a gifted leader who is passionate about the work of the ministry and well-qualified to lead our TEE pastors. He was born and raised right there in the Mokhotlong district and was led to Christ by another family of AIM missionaries years ago.

Our goal now is to see TEE spread to other areas of the country. The need for theological training is great and many pastors around the country are hungry to be taught more of God’s Word and equipped to lead their churches. Our plan is to work together with TEE leadership to develop a plan for starting new TEE groups in new areas. I will not be leading these groups personally, as I did with our Mokhotlong group; instead, I hope to see them led by some of our TEE graduates who completed the course last December. The program already runs entirely on local finances. By establishing local leadership in each of the new groups, we will be able to leave behind a healthy and growing TEE program in Lesotho. We are estimating another two years to get this assignment completed.

Our children... 
…have enjoyed every minute of our time in America. They have been real troopers through the hours of travel and have done well at making new friends everywhere we went. I remember my dad saying this when my family was traveling around the country, but now I have seen it for myself: Our children are some of the most effective tools God has given us for ministry. They change, challenge, and shape us as parents. They draw people in with their sweet smiles and friendly spirits. They make our lives truly joyful. People love them and they love people. Please be praying for them as we move back to Africa. Kyle was two when we moved overseas and both of the girls were born over there. Leaving this time could be a lot harder for them now that they have more close relationships here in America. At the same time, they are also excited about getting back to Lesotho. They are beginning to ask about their friends back home and can’t wait to be back there again. This is the life that they live - never really home and never fully belonging in either country. I know you all know this, but biblical priorities mandate that family must come before work or ministry (1 Tim. 3:4-5). We want to always be sensitive to the needs of our children and ensure that their wellbeing is never sacrificed for the sake of “the ministry.” It is a delicate balance we have to maintain.

Thank you all...
…for welcoming us back home and allowing us to be a part of your lives again during these months. We have loved being able to just plug in again and serve at our home churches - Millbrook and Cornerstone. You have helped to refresh us spiritually and we are grateful for your love and encouragement. Huge thanks also to our supporters, Baker and Terri White, for providing us with a place to stay and a vehicle to drive during our time here. The kids have loved living with you and will miss you greatly (and the dogs, too)! As best we can tell, our support is nearly at 100%. If any of you are still interested in contributing to our ministry needs, we can send you information on that. Just contact us by email or Facebook and we will get in touch. This weekend I am actually heading to Mexico for a mission trip with several other men from Millbrook. When I get back, we will have ten days to pack up our bags for the next two years. Thanks again for all of your love, prayers, and support. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time with you all and will be missing you again in the near future. Stay faithful to Him always and pray for the spread of the gospel among the unreached!

- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle, Ellee, & Sadie Kate St.Clair

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

June 2016 Newsletter

Hello From Home  
Our time in America has been incredibly refreshing for our family thus far. We have been here now since the middle of December and we have about three months remaining before we plan to return to Lesotho. While we have been busy with traveling, attending missions conferences and completing my seminary studies, it has been a blessing to be around our families and friends again.

Liberty Graduation
On May 13-14, our family traveled up to Lynchburg, Virginia to attend the commencement ceremonies as I was finally able to complete my degree from Liberty University’s School of Divinity. It was such a blessing to be able to get my Master of Divinity degree online, studying while living and ministering overseas. Liberty has really been the leading institution in embracing online education and I am so grateful for that opportunity. Many other seminaries I wanted to attend would allow perhaps half of my classes to be taken online, but the rest had to be taken on campus. For my ministry situation, that would not have worked. Without Liberty, I would not have been able to benefit from seminary training during the past three years. It was also very special to be a part of the largest graduating class in the history of the school where my father was one of the first students to enroll.

I would also be remiss if I failed to publicly thank Abby for her constant support in enabling me to complete my studies over the past three years. Our life has been wild, adventurous, and exciting, while also being stressful, tiresome, and painful at times. Abby has supported me through wise stewardship, freeing up the finances to pay for my tuition. She has managed our house and children well to give me the time needed for my studies. And she has kept our life  organized, planned, and running while I was too busy to stay ahead. I hereby award the honorary Master of Mothering degree to my faithful and hard-working wife, Abby St.Clair, and thank her for her tremendous sacrifice to make this achievement possible. I couldn’t have done it without you, babe!

Our Family…
…is thoroughly enjoying being with our relatives again. Being away from them has been the most difficult part of our life overseas. For the most part, Kyle and Ellee have been unaware of how difficult it is to be away from family. When we first moved to Africa, Kyle was only 2 and Ellee wasn’t even born yet. They now wake up every morning excited about coming over to Lollee and Pops’ house to play with their aunts, uncle, and cousins. We will be sure that they enjoy these next few months at home, because I expect that leaving for Africa will be much more difficult for them this time.

As soon as graduation was over, we took off to Florida for a week of vacation at the beach. We really enjoyed sharing a condo with Abby’s brother’s family and having her parents and siblings in the same complex as well. It was a relaxing and fun time for us together. On top of that, we took one day and drove down to Disney’s Magic Kingdom to celebrate Ellee’s birthday and let the kids meet some of their favorite movie characters. Ellee was thrilled to see Minnie Mouse in person and greeted her by saying, “Ellee loves your show!” Kyle also enjoyed the day and was quite taken with the princesses. It has just been very special to make memories with our families that the kids will remember for the years to come in Africa.

Our Schedule…
…is to be in the States until the end of August. Most of that time will be spent in the South, though we are planning to visit Illinois again and also our family in California. I am especially excited about helping out with an Upwards soccer camp at our sending church, Cornerstone. I love having the opportunity to invest in kids’ lives and sports provide a unique venue for making an impact. Soccer, in particular, is the only truly global game and is the fastest growing sport in America. By teaching kids the skills of “the beautiful game” we can also show them how to model a Christlike spirit in an arena often filled with egotism and rivalry. The football pitch provides a unique platform for evangelism and ministry anywhere around the world.

Our travel plan is to return to Africa on August 30. Our current support level is also near where it needs to be for us to return to Lesotho. We have had a number of one-time gifts and a couple more monthly commitments from some of you. As best we can tell, we need maybe $100 to $200 more in monthly commitments for us to be cleared to leave. If anyone is interested in joining our support team, please contact us and we can give you the details you will need. We are very much enjoying this time to catch up with all of you here in America. If you would like to get together with us sometime before we leave, please write us on Facebook or email and we would love to arrange a visit. God bless!

- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle, Ellee, & Sadie Kate St.Clair