After a few years of settling into marriage, Jared and Leslie began to seek the heart of God for the next step in their lives. It did not take long for them to start looking into missions organizations and training programs. When The Austin Stone launched the 100 People Network in September 2009, Jared and Leslie were two of the first people to sign up.
“We are focused on a Muslim population of about a million in our city that is only engaged by one other couple. Our goal is to see a movement of churches planted that will be led by locals and culturally relevant, while remaining biblically faithful. We plan to use business as a means of engaging the locals and being a blessing by meeting needs in this community."
“We were a part of The Austin Stone for over five years. During this time, the Lord called us to join Him in planting His church among the unreached peoples of the world. We were involved in reaching out to Muslims both in Austin and around the globe. Through these experiences, God prepared us to take this next step. We feel called to take the hope of Jesus to people and places that no one is engaging. Specifically, we feel called to work among Muslims with the end goal of church planning. We do not plan on pastoring a church or staying in a place forever. We want to get something started, train locals, and hand it over to them.”
Jared and Leslie feel as though the Lord is leading their team to go where no work has been done before, to go where there are no (or very few) believers and to be a catalyst for a growth movement. Their current plans are to utilize Leslie’s practical experience and training as a midwife in order to provide their new community with much-needed health care and assistance. Jared explains that ultimately their prayer is to “see God break through the tough soil with life and transform an entire people group for His glory.”
Our journey to the field started when we were young. Jared and I (Leslie) both had a heart to go overseas and felt God leading us in that direction before we even met each other in college. When we launched, we started a new team and headed to South Asia to begin learning language and engaging Muslims with the hope of Jesus. We were quickly taken off the field when we had pregnancy complications. We came back to the States and had our first son who passed away shortly after birth. God was gracious in allowing us to spend time in Austin and process with counseling and community. Three months later, we headed back to South Asia. The trials continued even before we boarded the plane, however. More pain and loss followed as we suffered a miscarriage right before we were supposed to leave and had to delay our travel by a couple weeks. I was not in a hopeful place going back, but Jared and I were confident that God was calling us back to South Asia.
We landed in the country and continued working alongside our team to engage the city through using the little language skills we had. Not long after we got back, our team was divided in two and we moved to a new city away from our teammates. The transitions continued as we recruited new team members and became a family of three as God blessed us with a son.
All the while, I wrestled with God about South Asia. It was a hard place to live and work for me and I was struggling while Jared had a different experience and felt confident in where our family was. Slowly I began to surrender to being there and trusting God with where He had us. Not long after I had come to a better place, we got kicked out of the country—never able to return. This led us to the Middle East, then eventually to Southeast Asia, where we live today.
Day-to-day life now looks like embracing motherhood and homeschooling four children with another on the way—so lots of school, diapers, managing the home, disciplining, and training kids! This takes up the majority of my time and energy, but I still have a heart for what’s going on outside our home. I am helping to disciple some of the local women like our current house helper, women in a small spiritual growth group, and some people in the house church we are involved with. We have been in Southeast Asia longer than anticipated due to COVID, but plan to move to another country soon to continue the work of mobilizing and training believers.
We’ve learned so much in our journey of serving overseas, and we couldn’t do the work overseas without those who send. Many times, we have been blown away by the love and care we have received. We could not do this without support and prayers from people who stay and for that we are so grateful. The way The Austin Stone loves
and cares for their goers is such a gift, through senders at home and through the International Field Office which plays a major role in being involved in the lives of goers. We’re convinced that every believer has a part to play in the Great Commission—because we are all called to make disciples. Some do it in their home countries, and some do it in other places.
I would encourage people who stay to really believe that they are not “less than” because they stay. We are not any better because we go; it’s simply different parts of the body doing the work of Jesus. People who support and give financially are a huge gift and we have been so blessed by the generosity of others. There also should not be any guilt for people to go or to stay! Pray and ask the Lord what He wants from you.
I think the biggest part of discerning where God wants to use you is having a heart of surrender. Are you willing to go? Are you willing to stay? It’s not a question of should we be involved in making disciples, but where and how. See what gifts He’s given you and what desires you have, and let that help you figure out where He wants to use you.
I want people to know that going is not the only part to play—it’s so freeing to have pressure and guilt removed and to be used by God where He leads. I would love for more people to live in this joy and work intentionally where they are.