Keeping Up With the Joneses August 2022

The past couple of years have been full of changes in the Jones household. Both of our daughters have left home for university, our two teenage sons are in high school, a Chinese bat-soufflé turned the world upside down, and I now officially can’t read anything without reading glasses. As a guy who has enjoyed relatively good health prior to the age of 45, I must say that this whole mid-life-blindness-baldness-increased-eyebrow-length-and-I-can’t-hear-anything-anymore time of life is not nearly as much fun as life in my 30s. I hear everything gets better after you turn 50, right?

Last week, I appreciated listening to one of our supporting pastors as he shared with us his observations about how lots of ministries in America are pushing the “reset” button in light of the new world we are living in now that Covid is (hopefully) on the way out. His point was that a lot of people are realizing that life will never look like it did before 2020, and that Believers need to adapt in order to reach this new world with the Gospel. We’re excited about the way God has been leading us to figure out this phase of life.  

Change is hard but not changing can be fatal.” – Unknown 

Reaching Out: Ministry in Prasat 

When the unsaved mother of one of our church members passed away in July, we were invited to attend her Buddhist funeral at a local temple. Here’s the unusual part: we were asked to choose a couple songs to sing during the final moments of the funeral just before the body was moved up the steps to be cremated. In my 15 years here, I’ve never heard of Christians being asked to sing at a temple for a Buddhist funeral.  

About a dozen of us from Prasat Baptist Church and Khu Khan Baptist Church stood at the foot of the “nain = crematorium” and sang “Does Jesus Care” and also a traditional Thai song “God Created our Lives.” There was an incredible silence that fell over the crowd as we sang.  

Two “jao-a-wats/head abbots” from two temples along with 8-10 regular monks sat and listened just 20 feet away from us. There were school principals, the village headman, and many people who would otherwise NEVER consider listening to a gospel presentation in any form. All in all, I estimated at least 300 people were there as we shared the Gospel through song (others estimated there were closer to 600 people present).  

Through our six years of teaching, witnessing, and just “doing life” in the midst of these people here in Prasat, we’ve interacted with countless faces that were in the crowd that day. For the two years since Covid started, we’ve largely been seen as suspicious outsiders and our opportunities to share our faith have been very limited. But yet, in one six-minute window on a hot sunny day, we were able to share the Gospel with more people at once than we have in the last six years combined.  

We left that day with a strange mix of emotions. Thailand shares the distinction of being a country with a Christian population of less than 1%, and that means that close to 70 million people will spend their entire lives never hearing a clear Gospel presentation. We know dozens in that crowd whom we have taught, witnessed to, preached to, and pleaded with to turn to Christ who have openly rejected Him and chosen to follow their folk-Buddhist way of life.  

We were thankful that God would use us to give these folks one more opportunity to hear, but deeply burdened by their ongoing lack of interest. The moment we finished singing, the announcer took the microphone and announced, “This is just their Christian culture, and all religions are actually the same and teach the same thing.”  

Reaching Out: MK Ministry 

Since our last letter, we’ve been looking for ways to adapt to ministry in a country that is still firmly in the grip of Covid-19. We were excited to be able to host the Southeast Asia MK Camp back in May with 45 missionary kids present from 24 different families. We had an awesome and memorable week with our main speaker testing positive for Covid the day before camp started and roughly two dozen of us testing positive for Covid after camp finished! The camp was a huge hit with the MKs, and we trust that those 24 families who took part in the camp went away encouraged in the missions work they’re doing here in Thailand.  

In early July, our girls (Lindsey and Erica) both flew back to the States after a two-month visit, and we (Courtney, Trevor, Tyler and I) flew to Cambodia to join in with a group of missionaries there who were starting their first-ever MK camp in Cambodia. The “Cambodian MK Camp 2022” maxed out the facilities in Steung Treng with 33 MKs, and it was a huge privilege to be asked to speak for some of the sessions there. It was especially memorable for Trevor, who broke his hand during one of the games!  

We are continuing to raise support for our MK Projects fund that will allow us to organize camps and events for MKs around the world in the days to come! Those interested in being part of this project can send any donations to Baptist World Mission with a note about the MK Projects Fund.  

As always, we covet your prayers for our family. Pray for God to provide for and take care of our girls this semester at BJU in South Carolina. Pray for Trevor and Tyler here in Thailand as we prepare for a furlough in 2023 and Trevor prepares to begin college next August. (Just writing that phrase still shocks me!) 

 If anyone is interested in us visiting your church from April 2023 to January 2024, please let me know.  

For Christ in Thailand 
Matt and Courtney Jones 
Lindsey, Erica, Trevor, Tyler 
Baptist World Mission 

For a printable prayer letter, click here.


Can’t We Just Skip Winter?

What is your favorite season? What about your least favorite? I remember as a teenager and college student that I hated winter. I even disliked fall because it meant that winter was coming. Winter makes me want to curl up in a ball and wait for it to be over. My favorite season was spring. New life. Beauty. Flowers. The feeling of a cool breeze when you are sitting in the warm sun. Ahhh. At that stage of my life, I knew I wanted to be a missionary and I was willing to go anywhere but was hopeful that God wouldn’t call me to a cold country. You can imagine my thankfulness to God when he called us to tropical Thailand. Now after 15 years of living overseas in a warm and sunny country, I have a better appreciation of winter. I still hate being cold but after sweating for most of my days, I think fall is fun. Sitting by a fire and feeling cold is enjoyable at least once every 4 years.

Recently my daughter, Erica texted and said “I’m cold. It’s not even freezing but it’s cold and I’m tired of it.” Then a few days later she said, “I don’t think I can handle being cold much longer.” I responded “You’re gonna love spring.” Erica grew up in Thailand and the frigid temperatures of South Carolina are a drastic change for her. I wanted to say to her “Don’t be discouraged. Spring will come. Be content in the season God has you in right now.” As I reflected on how I would give her advice for this season, I realized that I needed to give myself the same advice. I needed to give myself advice about the spiritual season that I am in. Physical winter reminds me that we have seasons in our spiritual lives. My daughter was discouraged by winter. And I have been discouraged by what seems like spiritual winter in my life.

God is the author of seasons. The famous old hymn says “Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest…. join with all nature in manifold witness to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.” Seasons testify to God’s omnipotence. Psalm 74:17 says that God made summer and winter. So, if it is from God, it is a good gift. Summer has a purpose and so does winter, as much as I hate to admit it. Recently I was reading “Love in Every Season” by Debra Fileta. She said this about winter “It is hard to believe that winter can be beneficial, much less have a purpose. But there is an unseen purpose to the cold, harsh months. In nature, the season of winter is extremely important to farmers across the country because it is during this season that the freezing temperatures eliminate many harmful insects and pathogens. It is also the time of year when plants go into hibernation, reserving their energy for the season to come.” Strangely, that explanation encouraged me. Winter has a purpose, physically and spiritually.

If I can be honest about my challenges in this season of life (and that is not always easy for any of us) I would say that this stage of life feels an awful lot like winter. For weeks I have been trying to figure out why I feel like I’m trudging uphill.  It is challenging to figure out how to parent adult children from 9003 miles away. It is tough learning how to live with different family dynamics. Preparing for the next child to leave home is a constant pressure and background thought. Ministry in pandemic times in NE Thailand is very discouraging and slow. When I read Fileta’s description of winter, I realized that I am in a season of winter in my life. And that encouraged me so much. Why, you ask? Because, what comes after winter? Spring!

As I realize that this season of life is very much like winter, I can have peace. I remind myself that it is a time that God has ordained. It will end and there will be a new season. I want to be content in the season that God has called me to now. I want to take the time to sit, bundle up (I mean, it is winter, right?) and delight in my Savior’s presence. I want to wait on Him, not a passive waiting but an expectant waiting on Him. I want to surrender to what he is doing in my life. Life is a little slow, ministry is hard, and the vision is dim but I serve a God who is working in the waiting and who has a plan. I can trust Him. I still don’t really like winter. I don’t like being cold. But winter is ordained by God for His plan and purposes. So, I will ask God for grace to accept it from his good hands and try to find a cozy fire to sit by while I wait for spring.

Home is where?

My family and I have been collecting sayings about home.

Here are a few:

Home is:

Where the WIFI connects automatically

Where the suitcase is

Where my dog is

Where your story begins

Where you unpack your suitcase

Where you know where the dishes go

My kids have strong opinions about which ones of those are accurate. As a person living in two different worlds, I have often thought that home is where my husband and kids are. Home has been Thailand for the last 14 years. But now that half of my kids are on the opposite side of the world from me, I am struggling with the thought of where my home is.

This past year has been a challenge for many of us. It has kept us home and isolated more than we wanted. For us in Thailand, it has slowed down our ministry. It kept us away from our daughters in the US for many months. And for me, it has made me think about where my home is. I wanted to be with my girls so badly and I couldn’t. I felt trapped in Thailand. Then God kindly allowed us to go to the US for the summer and be with them and it was such a gift. But returning to Thailand was harder for me than it has been before. I always used to think that I was returning “home.” But after leaving half of my heart in the US, I was conflicted. Maybe I even felt a little guilty saying I was going “home” while leaving my girls behind.

This thought of home is such an interesting idea to think about. We recently landed in Bangkok and Matt said “Welcome home.” I had no response. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Think about all of the places we see or hear the word “home.” We recently watched the cartoon called “Home.” If you google songs about home, the list is endless. It seems that we, as humans, are obsessed with home. Making our home feel “homey.” Make yourself at home. And of course there are the unforgettable worlds from Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz “There’s no place like home.”

The Bible actually talks about home a lot. But one of my favorite passages about home is Psalm 84. You know when the Lord is teaching you something and you keep seeing the same passage over and over? That is Psalm 84 for me recently. The beginning of the chapter talks about how he is longing to be in God’s house. You know that feeling when you walk into a house, maybe your house from childhood, or maybe visiting a friend who has a really beautiful and cozy home or maybe your own home and you smile and sigh because it’s such a great place to be. I imagine that is what the Psalmist is saying about how beautiful God’s house is. He longs to be there. He says anyone who gets to be in God’s house is blessed. He says those people find their strength in God. Verse 6 talks about the Valley of Baca which means the Valley of Tears. How many of us have been in that valley recently? But in God’s strength, the Valley of Tears becomes a place of refreshment. How amazing is that? Verse 3 talks about how even the birds find a home in God’s house. That is a beautiful reminder.

So what does this passage remind me about home? God is home. Wherever He is, is home for me. Or maybe on a more practical level for me right now, wherever God wants me to be right now is home. I realized in the last few days, that I must choose to be at home where God wants me to be right now. Surrender, again. (Sound familiar?) Wherever he is, is home. What a comforting thought for me. I’m home.

October 2021 Prayer Letter

Keeping Up With the Joneses
Between Worlds in 2021

One of the greatest parts of living between worlds as a missionary family is all the amazing people that we interact with all around the world. This summer, we’ve travelled up and down the East coast spending time with great friends and family all the way from New Hampshire down to the Florida Keys. We’ve reestablished and strengthened friendships over rounds of disc golf, catching fish, and eating crazy good food. God has ministered so much grace and encouragement to our family this summer and as we finish this “family furlough,” we’re turning our attention back toward our friends and church family 10,000 miles away in Thailand. 

You might be asking yourself, “Is it hard to live between worlds?” What does that even phrase even mean? Let me illustrate. Living between worlds means that ever since our family decided to go to the mission field in 2005, we’ve been living a life of high mobility, and we don’t really have a place we call “home.” During the past 16 years, we’ve rented houses in Kansas, Tennessee, and South Carolina. We’ve borrowed bedrooms in family basements, lived in our SUVs, and overrun our in-law’s house with countless suitcases up and down their hallway. In Thailand, we’ve lived on the twelfth floor in an apartment in the heart of 10 million people in Bangkok. We’ve also lived in two homes in Surin city, and now our rented house in Prasat is where we call “home,” because that’s where our dogs live. 

This living between worlds is even more crazy for our kids. Our four kids have grown up living “everywhere and nowhere” all at the same time. Now Lindsey and Erica are both on campus at Bob Jones University, and Lindsey recently said, “Living on campus is the closest I feel to being ‘at home’ because it’s the one place where I have been able to unpack my suitcases since leaving Thailand.” Yeah, life for MKs is complicated. I think you might start to understand why we might stare at you blankly if you see our family here in the States and say “Welcome Home” to us. 

For missionary kids, mostly belonging is one of their superpowers. They exist in an unfamiliar world we call the “Third Culture,” where they have partial ownership of their passport country (America) and their mission field, but not complete ownership or understanding of either place. This presents some pretty unique challenges when MKs come back to the States for life after the mission field and that’s a big part of why we’ve been here all summer. 

Missionary Kid (MK) Ministry Update

This summer has been full of some of the most amazing opportunities to interact with missionary kids from all over the world. In August, I spoke to 48 MKs from 27 different countries for the morning chapels at the first-ever Wilds MK camp in North Carolina. One of the highlights of the summer for me was listening to the testimonies on the final night of camp, and seeing how the week had deeply impacted the MKs for Christ. We’re so thankful the Wilds and Camps Abroad have taken up a burden for his needy ministry! 

Back in August, we were able to spend several hours on campus at Bob Jones University speaking to the incoming freshmen MKs during their international orientation and also helping facilitate an MK panel with upper classmen MKs in the Center for Global Opportunities. Since that time, we’ve hosted groups of BJU MKs at our in-law’s house in Greenville and, more recently, put together an informal pizza/taco party on campus. Nobody likes free Taco Bell more than college-aged missionary kids! 

Courtney and I also flew to Dallas in September to attend the Missionary Kid Caregiver Summit (MKCS), where we were able to hear many of our favorite MK authors share their burdens during the workshops. I’ll be flying next to Wisconsin in about 10 days to make a presentation about MK care to the Board of Directors of Baptist World Mission. 

Back in September, we joined our friends, Bryan and Sommer Lowery, to start the “Southeast Asia MK Community” Zoom meeting. This twice-a-month online Zoom meeting has been a burden of ours for many months now, and we had around 40 MKs for the first meeting. One of the goals of this meeting is to give these MKs a chance to fellowship and interact during this time of social isolation in Southeast Asia, where Covid continues to rage and lockdowns are still the norm. 

Back to Thailand

After all these details about MK ministry, you’re probably wondering about ministry in Thailand, right? If you are wondering if our ministry is changing, it’s NOT. We are very excited about getting back to our church planting ministry in Thailand. We are so excited to announce that as of October 1, the quarantine period for people returning to Thailand has been lowered from 15 nights to 7 nights! This is a huge deal for us as it will save us around $3000 in quarantine costs. We have purchased tickets and reserved our quarantine facility already. We have submitted the preapproval request to the Thai embassy in Washington and are waiting for the paperwork to be approved. 

Provided our paperwork is approved, we will fly out on October 18 and arrive in Thailand on October 20. Will you take a moment and pray with us about the following needs? 

1. Please pray for all of the details of our return to Thailand – much paperwork goes into this process. 

2. Pray that none of us will test positive for Covid between now and the end of quarantine. If any of us tests positive prior to leaving, we have to cancel ALL the paperwork and reservations and start over. If any of us tests positive in quarantine, we will be taken to hospitals for an additional two week stay quarantined in the hospital. Not our idea of a smooth transition. 

3. We especially need your prayers as we say “goodbye” once more to our girls in just a couple weeks. When we leave this time, we don’t know when we’ll see them again so that’s pretty rough on all of us. Living between worlds has some unique challenges! And we know that God’s grace will be sufficient every step of the way.

For Christ in Thailand

Matt and Courtney Jones
Lindsey, Erica, Trevor, Tyler
Baptist World Mission

Navigating Tricky University Transitions as a Missionary Kid

All transitions are tricky. They represent the end of something old and familiar, and the beginning of something new and unknown. When facing transitions, you naturally experience a period of grief and mourning over the losses that now lay somewhere in your past. God has created us with an amazing and extensive spectrum of physical and emotional responses to the changes that take place in our lives. For instance, when you’re happy, you smile. When something is funny, you laugh. When you’re angry, you find something to throw at a cat. When you lose something or someone that you love, you grieve.

In that way, missionary kids are no different than other university students. When incoming freshmen arrive on campus, they naturally miss their beds, their mom’s cooking, their high school friends, and probably their dog. They probably even miss their annoying siblings, and even their dad sitting in his recliner snoring while watching football on Sunday afternoons. But I have some dramatic news for you, wait for it, here it comes: There are some MAJOR differences between MKs who arrive at university and other American kids who show up on campus for the first time.

Profound, huh? Think about this with me for a minute. What are some of the major difference between a typical dorm student and a missionary kid who grew up in some remote corner of the world?

The MKs probably can’t go back home.

-When a student drives onto campus from Georgia or Michigan, he or she doesn’t need a visa to cross state lines but many MKs have to surrender their legal rights to live on their mission field when they make the international trip to attend university. They give up their visas just to come to college and that means no turning back. That’s tricky!

-MKs who grew up in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America are faced with a huge financial decision at Thanksgiving, Christmas and summer breaks. Should they pay $1000-$2000 for a two-week trip home, or should they pay for their school bill for this month? That’s tricky!

-When MKs leave their field, they pack up everything they own, say goodbye to their family, friends, neighbors, church members, and pets knowing that if they ever see them again, it will likely be years from now. For MKs, their “home” is thousands of miles away across multiple time zones and several international airports. That’s tricky!

-If you grew up in the States, there’s always a backup plan if college just doesn’t work out for you: Quit and go home. If your roommate snores, eats pickled garlic, steals your food, has a foot fungus, uses too many essential oils, or owns a cat, you can always jump in a car and be back at home within a few short hours. Even if MKs can afford to go back to their field during breaks, the world they knew has changed and gone on without them. For MKs, there is no backup plan. Like Cortez when he burned his ships, there’s no going back. That’s tricky!

What else is different for MKs?

The MKs are learning two new cultures at once.

The first few weeks of college life are fun to watch. In those initial days, students receive approximately 2 million details and pieces of information that you need to remember to be able to succeed. It’s essential to figure out “Can I get to Alumni 301 from the Fine Arts building in 4 minutes?” Or “Who am I going to go to lunch with today? Is there a bathroom somewhere in the student life building? Why is the line at Chick-fil-A always so long but Papa Johns is always empty? Do I really get demerits if I jump in the fountains? Why is that creepy guy in my freshman speech class trying to follow me on Instagram?” Figuring out the answers to these questions is a necessary ingredient in every student’s college experience. No matter where you grew up, you have to be concerned about more than just academics; you also have to learn dorm student culture as well. That can be tricky!

It’s easy in the swarm of college life to forget that MKs aren’t just learning “university culture,” they’re also trying to learn “American culture” at the same time. What am I talking about?

-Many MKs have been riding and driving motorcycles on the mission field since they were old enough for their feet to reach the ground but in America, they have to complete the equivalent to a doctoral dissertation just to get the DMV to give them a driver’s license. After having a crazy amount of freedom to roam the villages and countryside where they lived, they now can’t even get to Walmart. That’s tricky!

-Asian MKs are taught that feet are “dirty”, and you never touch anything with your foot. You don’t point your feet, especially the bottom of your feet, at another person unless you’re trying to insult them. If an MK has heard and been taught this way their whole life, how do you think they feel the first time their roommate puts their feet on the MK’s bed in the dorm room? That’s tricky!

-Church on the mission field can be pretty “organic”. There are likely to be small children roaming around the room and babies crying. Church music might consist of a guitar, a bongo drum, or some other traditional instruments that sound nothing like a piano and orchestra. People put on their “Sunday-best” clothing on the field and that just means that they put on their best sandals and their shirt that doesn’t have holes in it. How strange do you think it must be for MKs to walk into a typical church here in the US where 500 people are wearing suits and ties? Overseas, it’s normal for everyone in the church to greet every single person one-by-one before church, and then enjoy a meal together after church. For MKs who grew up deeply immersed in their local culture, American church culture can be suffocating and way too formal when compared to their “home” church on the field. That’s tricky!

So, what’s the point in writing all this? Well, MKs need to remember several important things about life in the States:

1. Transitions are tricky. They are emotional, tough, chaotic and will push you way out of your comfort zones. 1 Corinthians 10:13 offers a profound reminder, there is literally nothing that enters your life that you are unequipped to endure. God’s Spirit dwells in you and His love is more than able to sustain you no matter how low you go during this time of transition.

2. Transitions are unavoidable. Never try to ignore or go around the transition process. You-Have-To- Go-Through-It. Period. Double-stop. You can’t bury your past. You can’t stick your memories in a box and pretend they never happened. 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 points to the imminent changes awaiting our bodies when Christ returns. Hebrews 11 powerfully outlines the lives of men and women who bravely walked through repeated transitions with grace and power. Those people are the heroes of our faith and we stand on their spiritual shoulders because they bravely went wherever God moved them.

3. Transitions are temporary. There are five stages of transition that we don’t have time to look at here. Maybe if you contact the CGO and tell them you enjoyed this article and want to hear more, then they’ll ask me to write some more in the future…cough, cough, hint, hint, wink, wink.

Students who grew up in the States but live among MKs on campus need to remember several important things as well.

1. MKs have learned to adapt to their surroundings to try to fit in. In many contexts, MKs probably could be described as “hidden immigrants”. What does that mean? They look like Americans, but they think like the people on their mission field. They smile and nod when you make references to the NBA and NFL, but they might not know the difference between a two-point conversion and a jump shot.

2. MKs would like to understand. They need you to take time to explain movie references, pop-culture icons, and contemporary humor. It’s exhausting pretending to understand American politics and why every American thinks their culture is superior to other cultures. Don’t assume that your MK friends “get it”. Ask them follow-up questions and help them understand.

3. MKs would like to be understood. MKs grow up riding elephants, playing with monkeys, touring 1000-year-old castles, and riding canoes through crocodile infested waters. They’ve flown before they could walk. They’ve eaten stuff that would make you cringe. Their life is extremely colorful and multi-cultural. They would love to share those memories with you. They would love to include you in their world, but they need you to ask them questions to get the conversation started.

We know and are known by the telling of our stories.” Michael Pollock

Matt Jones

Photo by fauxels on

New Season – New Surrender

Encouragement for moms in transition from a mom in transition

When I was 17 years old, I remember singing the words “I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.” I sang with tears in my eyes and a yearning in my heart to go. I was completely surrendered in that moment, and I wanted more than anything to serve God somewhere overseas.

When I was 28, God called my husband and me to Thailand and I had to surrender again to serve him overseas. We were living and working in an ideal ministry with people we loved all around us. Were we really supposed to leave that? I was scared and excited. The Lord made it so obvious through so many different ways that He had specific plans for us in Southeast Asia. I can remember sitting in a service one night and the preacher announced the title to his sermon “Have You Lost Your Heart for the Harvest?” That sermon was the culmination of everything that God was doing in our lives, and I knew God was calling me to surrender again to serve Him. So without hesitation, we packed up with our 3 children and headed to Thailand with great joy and expectation.

          We love our life in Thailand. What an adventurous place to raise a family. I remember thinking many times “I can’t believe this is my life. I am living the dream that God gave me as a child.” I am so grateful for the life and calling God has given us.

          So, fast forward several years and now I have come to a new place of surrender. Our oldest two daughters have left Thailand for university in the States, and everything in life is changing/has changed/continues to change almost daily. I was caught off guard and unprepared for how challenging this stage of life would be, and I struggle with how to adequately express the struggle without being discouraging to you the reader.

          It was very hard to say goodbye to our oldest daughter knowing we wouldn’t be nearby to help her when she needed us. It was super hard when she was sent away from college because of the Covid pandemic, and Thai restrictions wouldn’t allow her to come home to Thailand. She recently told us that the only place she feels “at home” is when she’s on campus at college because it’s the only place she’s been able to unpack her suitcases in the past two years. When she went through challenging times with friends and boy relationships, it was so difficult to not be able to talk face to face, especially since we are 12 time zones apart. Fast forward 8 months.

          Because of visa restrictions, in December of 2020 our second daughter had to fly across the world alone (Bangkok to Qatar to Dallas to South Carolina) to start college. I wasn’t sure if I was strong enough for that either. Less than a month after she returned to the States, both of the girls tested positive for Covid and were sent to quarantine on campus for 10 days. We were powerless to help. Powerless to comfort. Powerless to do anything but watch all this unfold on a smart phone screen from 10,000 miles across the globe. (We were able to ask family to deliver Chick-fil-A to their quarantine dorm so that’s something, right?)

          I am not writing this to give 10 steps to success for other moms facing this time of life. I am not writing to say “this is how I survived” this stage of life because, honestly, I haven’t yet. But I would like to state the obvious: Living with this level of elevated tension and uncertainty is emotionally, physically and spiritually depleting. So, with that in mind, I felt compelled to write out some of the lessons that I am learning as I navigate this new season.

1. I am not alone in this struggle.

There is something about knowing that someone else has experienced the same thing that I am that is comforting. I’ll never forget the first time I read an article of another expat who was struggling to go back to her mission field just like I was. It was the first time that I had felt that way and I felt guilty. Her article encouraged me so much to realize that I was not alone and reminded me to remember my “why” for serving the Lord.

We should seek counsel from others who are walking this path ahead of us and also seek to encourage others who are going through the same thing we are. It is also invaluable to consider the cost that God paid in sending his own Son to earth to redeem us from our sin.

2. Surrender. Again. And again. And again. And again.

I used to think that surrender was a “one and done” thing. Now I am realizing that it is a continual process. Sometimes I have to keep surrendering the same thing over and over. Just when I think that I have accepted what God is doing in my life, I realize that I am holding back again. It is a gift of grace to be able to live in a place of surrender.

3. What I say to my self is important.

If I tell myself that this is an overwhelming sacrifice and I cannot do this, I will believe myself. If I remind myself that God has a plan in all of our trials and that He is sovereign over every detail in my life as well as my children’s lives, I can live with hope. Paul Tripp talks about the children of Israel and how what they were thinking influenced their response to God’s leading. He says –

“Think of the children of Israel in the wilderness as they are actually contemplating going back to Egypt. How could they possibly consider that response if they saw themselves as the miraculously redeemed, sustained, and guided children of the covenant? Could they seriously contemplate, even for a moment, a return to the very place of slavery from which God had graciously rescued them? Imagine the difference it would make during the hardships of the wilderness to say, “Yes, this circumstance if difficult, and no, we don’t always know what God is doing. But there is one thing we know. We are the children of God. He gave us his covenant promises, he redeemed us out of slavery, he revealed to us his law, and he has guided and provided for us. Because we are his children, we are never alone. The God who delivered us from Egypt will be with us, even in this tough moment. Our only hope is to remain with him, and any other option would mean denying our very identity as the children of the Most High God.”
(Lost in the Middle: MidLife and the Grace of God: Mid-Life Crisis and the Grace of God by Paul David Tripp)

That is a profound thought. Just imagine what would have been different for the children of Israel if they would have thought differently about their circumstances and about their God.

4. I must make sure I am surrounding myself with biblical truth.

God’s Word has been such a comfort and rebuke to me during this time of change in our lives. The Psalms have encouraged me over and over to pour out my heart before my God and seek His guidance. Songs with biblical truth have been especially comforting to me. I have had this song on repeat for months:

Father of Light

All praise to the name

Of the Father of Light

One who listens and hears when I call

Ev’ry step he ordains,

I shall walk without fear

In His light I’ll not stumble or fall.

He knows all of my feelings,

The depths of despair

All the limits my soul can endure.

I will trust in His name,

I have nothing to lose,

For in Him all my hopes are secure.

-Craig Courtney

5. Look for God’s hand in my life and be grateful.

God is always at work. He is trustworthy. He is sovereign. He is good. And if I take the time to look for how he is working, I will spend a lot more time being grateful and a lot less time complaining. It was a stretching time for our family when Erica had to fly back to America alone. It was hard. But seeing how God worked in her heart to prepare her and then seeing the strength he gave her and how he guided her was faith building for all of us. I wouldn’t trade the way we saw God work for anything. It takes effort to stop and notice how God is working in our lives and in our children’s lives. Psalm 66:16 says “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.” I need to take time to reflect on God’s mighty hand upholding me and I need to share what He is doing with others.

There have been many days when I didn’t think I could make it on the mission field any longer. There have been many days when I wanted to quit. But there are more days when I bow my head and ask God to help me surrender to what He wants for my life. I do not want to choose my own way. He is all-wise and I trust Him. This is my prayer:

Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
  However dark it be;
Lead me by Thine own hand,
  Choose out the Path for me.

Smooth let it be, or rough,
  It will be still the best;
Winding or straight it leads
  Right onward to Thy rest.

I dare not choose my lot;
  I would not if I might:
Choose Thou for me, my God,
  So shall I walk aright.

Take Thou my cup, and it
  With joy or sorrow fill,
As best to Thee may seem;
  Choose Thou my good and ill.

Choose Thou for me my friends,
  My sickness or my health.
Choose Thou my cares for me,
  My poverty or wealth.

Not mine, not mine the choice,
  In things both great and small;
Be Thou my guide, my strength,
  My wisdom and my all.

-Horatius Bonar

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Fall Schedule 2019

*Sept 15-16 Oak Ridge Baptist, Oak Ridge, TN

16-22 Central Baptist, Greeneville, TN

24 Ken Ham conference at BJU

29pm – Eastside, Greeneville TN

October 1-9 in Ottawa, KS

2-6 missions conf at Calvary, Ottawa

9-11 Maranatha for Oral Defense

11-13 Romeoville, IL

13-16 BWM meeting in Danville, IL

16-19 stay in Danville

20 Faith in Columbia, MO

27 Sedalia, MO/Tri-City MO

30-Nov 3 Huntsville, AL

*November 10 – Charleston, SC

17 – Oakwood, Anderson, SC

27-30 Greeneville, TN Thanksgiving

*December 8 Tabernacle in VA Beach, VA

15 – Matt flies to Detroit for two mtgs

19 – semester ends at BJU

January 13 2nd semester 2 begins BJU

14 Joneses fly back to Thailand

*in between meetings we will be in Greenville, SC

2015-2016 Furlough Schedule

April 5, 2015—Red Bluff Baptist, Sylvania, GA

April 12, 2015—Central Baptist, Greeneville, TN

April 17-20—Tri City Baptist, Independence, MO

April 21-26—Fairfax Baptist Temple, Fairfax, VA

May 3—Bethany Baptist, Brevard, NC

May 10—New Beginnings, Limestone, TN

May 17—Eastside Baptist Church, Greeneville, TN.

May 24 PM—Bethel Baptist, Schaumburg, IL (we will stay in Chicago all week)

May 24 AM—Romeoville Bible Baptist, Romeoville, IL

May 31—No meeting scheduled yet (Anniversary Weekend)

June 7—No meeting scheduled yet

June 10—Friendship Baptist, Raleigh, NC

June 14—Bethany Hills Baptist, Raleigh, NC

June 21—Oakwood Baptist, Anderson, SC

June 28—Bible Baptist, Hampton, GA

July 5—Heritage Baptist, Windam, NH

July 12—Bethel Baptist, Sellersville, PA (pm only)

July 17-19—Hurst Baptist, Sylvania, GA

July 26—Immanuel Ind. Baptist Church—Brooklet, GA

July 27-August 1—The Wilds (Lindsey, Erica, Trevor will be campers)

August 2—No meeting scheduled yet

August 9—Olatheview Baptist, Olathe, KS

August 16—No meeting scheduled yet (looking for mtgs in KS)

August 23-26–Oak Ridge Baptist Church, Oak Ridge, TN

August 30—Calvary Baptist, York, PA

September 6—Valley Forge Baptist Temple, Valley Forge, PA

September 12-13-14—Harvest Hills Baptist, Yukon, OK

September 15-20 AM—Central Baptist, Greeneville, TN

September 20 pm service-September 23—Twin City Bible Church, Nitro, WV

September 24-28—Whitneyville Bible Church, Alto, MI

September 30—Mio Baptist, Mio, MI

October 4-7—Faith Baptist, Warren MI

October 11—Community Baptist, Saginaw, MI

October 12-14—BWM Annual Meeting, Crosspointe Baptist, Indianapolis, IN

October 18—Calvary Baptist, Geneva, IL

October 21-25—Calvary Baptist, Ottawa, KS

November 1—Hillsdale Baptist, Tampa, FL (Am only)

November 4-8—Calvary Baptist, Huntsville, AL

November 15—Colonial Bible Church, Midland, TX

November 18 and 22—Grace Life, Cypress, TX

November 29—Carol Baptist, Atchison, KS

December 6–Abilene Bible Baptist, Abilene, KS

December 13–

December 20

December 27

January 3

January 10–Hillcrest Baptist Church, Logansport, IN

January 17—Bible Baptist Church, West Pointe, MS

January 24-27—First Baptist Church, LaSalle, IL

February 6, 2016—Return to Thailand