We are on a quest. We are on a journey. We are on Sabbatical. We have so much to share. Many who love us and have stood with us throughout our past 35 years in Africa and with Jon’s parents, (Paul and Eleanor) before us, are probably wondering, “What is happening with Jon and Molly these days. We’ll I’m glad you asked. Molly and I have been in America since April 24th, 2019. Our original purpose of this trip was to escort and settle our twins as they navigate the huge transition from life in a developing country with high unemployment where they had never had the opportunity that most American kids have in their teen years of learning the world of work and budgeting and responsibility. We have moved them (Joe, out to Redding, California) and (Sarah, out to Eureka, California) where they are enrolled in a ministry internship school. What took me about six years to accomplish in my youth, they have both done in less than 6 months. They have both gotten jobs, made a budget and are now out of the nest, paying for their rent and upkeep. Mom and Dad are helping where we can and paying some of their school fees for this year, but Joe and Sarah have done us proud in the way they have shone wherever they have been so far. It has been a real step of faith for Molly and me, but God has been so good to us.
So, now that Molly and I are an empty nest-er couple, we are just now realizing how exhausted we are. After 35 years of service on the field, our bodies, minds and our Encouragers Board are telling us it is time for some much needed rest. So, we are now about to enter a sabbatical. Having followed so hard after the Lord and His calling, the Lord is taking us on a quest to do several very important things.
- We are taking a long look are our priorities. “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Matthew 16:26 NLT –
- Sometimes the health our soul is not just about our personal salvation, although we can get side tracked in ministry to the extent that we become careless. The Lord has convicted me with the word: Arrogance. It is possible to begin to believe all the great press and find ones self in a dangerous place, spiritually. “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace with lead me home.” Molly and I want to finish strong and to be as strong as we appear.
- Ministry, too easily, separates us from those closest to us. I am talking about marriage. As Molly and I approach the 37 year mark in our marriage, we have been given the gift of counsel. We are re-discovering an intimacy in our marriage that we have been lacking. Our goal in life is to model Christian marriage to those who will benefit from it the most. Our kids…
- It is also very easy to lose touch with our family. Molly and I have been very challenged by a quote from Jim Elliot that says “The light that shines the farthest shines the brightest at home.” We all tend, too easily, to allow the demands of ministry to cloud our vision of family. We are determined to become closer than ever as a family. This means speaking into their lives by listening and knowing our children better, affirming them for what they do, praising and blessing our kids for who they are. (our beloved children), helping them feel safe – (free from all fears and anxiety), touching them in meaningful ways (lots of hugs), helping them feel chosen and included. It seems that wherever we choose to “hang our hats” these days, we are a far distance from some of our kids. Being on the West coast has brought us close to Paul and Amy and three of our grandkids. We intend to do all we can to connect with our other kids as well in this next season of sabbatical. Please pray for us as we decide where to park for the sabbatical.
- We are drinking at the well that will never run dry. We live in a time where it is much easier to be distracted in life than focussed. The Lord has been feeding me from Psalm 23. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” What we are re-discovering is that there is only One well that can satisfy. Many wells promise big things, but only one guarantees that we will remain satisfied. In this season, we are taking time to drink a lot of Living Water. Our desire is to re-ignite our passion and fire for the Lord in our devotional life that will ignite all who by mistake or on purpose get close to us.
- We are gearing up for the rest of our race. Our marathon is not over yet. There are still many victories to be won. We are determined to win more, lose less and get out of the way and let the Lord move though us. We want to finish the race strong. Strong in salvation, strong in marriage, strong in family and strong in our commitment to live and die for our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the Lamb, Jon and Molly Stern