Schoenleber Family Update
We live in interesting times.
“I’m too old.” I said.
“I would need a partner at my age,” I said.
“I’m not sure I have the energy,” I said.
“It would take an extraordinary set of circumstances,” I said.
“I need to take some concentrated time to pray,” I said.
Schoenleber Family Update
Questions people have been asking us:
Change in Ministry
The picture to the right is my bride’s new view from the kitchen since I invaded her house with more than 2,000 books from my church office to add to the 2,200 books I already had at home. Pray for her. Her home has become a library!
As many of you know, I resigned from the pastorate at Manchester Creek Church. We are confused and disappointed and at the same time, my bride and I are in a good place emotionally and spiritually. What’s next? We don’t know. I don’t want to retire and I don’t feel like I am finished preaching but the coronavirus and my age are a double-whammy on getting a new church. Some have asked about us planting again. We haven’t ruled it out but it would take a set of extraordinary circumstances to move us in that direction.
What are some of your options?
Well, I am looking into chaplain positions, teaching positions at seminaries, considering a seminar ministry focused on prayer and meditation, as well as doing more writing. A friend and I are talking about developing an online presence of some type. We are kicking around a couple of ideas for a Podcast that would appear once a week.
I continue to counsel men and women and to disciple other men, three men in particular have shown a real desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. It has been a joy meeting with them weekly and by phone multiple times a week. (Yes, we are appropriately socially distancing—mostly). And I have been getting much more involved at a local day-center for the homeless. Recently, I received permission to start a garden with some of the men there and will start some of the build-out next week. We appreciate your prayers.
Will you stay in South Carolina?
That is our plan until God shows us differently. We would like to stay in the area. Making room in the house to accommodate my library has been a challenge. I have listed over 1,000 books on Amazon for sale! I am trying to figure out a way to set up a “store” in the Amazon Marketplace where my friends could check out some of those books and see if they are interested in purchasing any. There are still 4,200 books on bulging shelves all over the house. I think my bride would like me to get rid of a few more. Stay tuned.
What have you been doing during the COVID Lockdown?
Well, I keep looking for positions and ministry options but virtually no one is looking to hire in churches while COVID is an albatross in the culture. I miss preaching and teaching on a regular basis. We have been spending a lot of time together, which is always a plus. Any time with my bride is good. But I’ve been spending a lot of time in reading, prayer and writing. Stephnie and I can tell you the plot of far too many Hallmark movies! My BLOG has had the greatest upturn in readership since July of 2015. That has been encouraging and has been one way that I have been working to continue to have an influence for Christ. Just in the last week, a couple of friends have suggested a number of creative opportunities for me to look into. I will write here if any of them pan out.
Over the last month I have written the first draft of 150 pages of a new book (projected to be about 200 pages). I have to shop a publisher but it has been good to have the time to think and write and hone some of the sentences and chapters of a book that I hope might be used by the Spirit of God as a stimulus to revival in America. (More on the book in the months to come.)
Let’s see, what else? Oh, I have been spending a lot of time in my garden and mowing my own plus three of my neighbors lawns. Both are great ways to be present in my neighborhood and I have had some great conversations, one of which moved to spiritual issues. I am thankful for the opportunity to build into my neighbor’s lives. Now that COVID “house arrest” is coming to an end, I will start up my once a month Men’s Night Out for the housing development. I’m looking forward to that.
So, that’s the latest. We will try to keep you posted about new developments as they happen. Please, please keep us in prayer. And, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask them in the comment section.
Schoenleber Family Update (2018)
Follows the Speaking Schedule
Hard to believe that it has been 5 months since my last update on Schoenleber family doings. So, here it is.
The Eagles are still champions of the world and ready to start their defense. I’m looking forward to the new season.
This summer saw the Schoenleber clan, all seven of us, and lots of children and grandchildren gather together on the Jersey Shore at Sea Isle City for a family reunion. What a delight to see all my brothers and sisters.
Please pray for four things:
- All our children would run passionately toward Christ.
- That my (Marty’s) energy level would rise. (I have been fighting tiredness.)
- That our friendships would deepen and mature with our new friends in South Carolina.
- That God might allow us to stimulate or experience a genuine revival before we are called home to glory.
More 2018 Dates coming soon
Available to preach and teach for retreats, conferences, and seminars after approval from my new board of elders.
Lord Willing —Family Reunions on these dates
July 4, 2018
The Philadelphia Eagles are World Champions! If heaven is allowed to look on these things, my Dad is smiling. As a life-long Philadelphia sports fan, it was a big evening and it was great to be with my brother Karl and his children and to sing the Eagles fight song after every Eagles score and eat copious amounts of Philadelphia themed foods (soft-pretzels, TastyKakes, Cheese Steaks).
Like I said, it was a good night.
We are enjoying South Carolina and our new church family. They are a great group of people who have a growing seriousness about their faith and as a result, we are seeing a steady growth in attendance (up 25 per week over last year’s January average). One of the neat things about this growth is the youthfulness of it. Example, in 2017, we averaged 4 children in the nursery. In 2018, we are averaging 9! This represents not only a growth in the cuteness factor of all our children but the addition of young millennial families. That’s a good sign.
Winter is short here and I am about a week or two from starting my garden. I’m looking forward to what I can grow so early in the year. The roads are narrow with very small shoulders and that makes bike riding more difficult. My last year in rural Illinois I was able to ride 1,200 miles. I have more modest goals here. I’m praying that I can get 600 miles on the bike this year. The bulge around my belly probably needs more! Maybe I can do some other exercise?
Stephnie is still the joy of my life. I am so fortunate to have her. She manages our household and helps keep me healthy but she is also my best counselor and friend. She will be working on a number of house projects this year as we continue to unpack. We both must be getting old, (although Stephnie doesn’t look it). We just don’t have the energy or motivation to do much some days. My bride is discipling a few women and it is so fun to watch her light up when she gets to help new babes in Christ grow. She loves to study the Bible and teach others to study the Bible and pray.
It is clearly what she was born-again to do.
Last year, we finished the year with 11 men trained in one-to-one discipleship. So this year our hopes are high that we will end the year with 25-30 men trained to build into other men and help them grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. One of the men I trained last year was Brett, our Children’s and Family Pastor.
In April, he and I were privileged to share the gospel with Garrett. Garrett had started to attend but at first was skeptical. But after just a few weeks he expressed real interest in the gospel. Brett and I sat with him in a local Subway sandwich shop and after hearing the gospel, he saw his need and believed. The next week, he left for Alaska to work for a few weeks. When he returned to the States he went to Syracuse, NY to visit family and then moved to Atlanta. In July, three months after he trusted Christ, he died in an accident at 28.
Last month his mother and sister visited the church and asked for a pastoral visit. Shortly after that, they became regular attendees and two weeks ago both Bonnie and Syndey, were baptized. Such is the fruit of one-to-one discipleship. Garrett believed, now John and Bonnie (his mom and dad) and Sydney (his sister) have renewed their faith and are growing in Christ. Rejoice with us and pray that God would continue to give grace as more and more men and women give their lives to the Savior.
I think the past two months have marked the longest time in about two years in which my bride and I have been together in consecutive weeks. It has been wonderful. There is no day, no time of day, no situation in life where I don’t rejoice to have her at my side. I am stunningly blessed by her smile, her wisdom, her love, her laugh, her care, her skill in managing our household, and her humor are all priceless treasures.
Rejoice with me in this season of life.
Neighbors: We are loving getting to know and love our neighbors.
A. and S. and their two little girls under 5 live to our left. B. and D. and their two teen girls and their 12-year-old son are on our right. Across the street are B. and C. with their newborn and C. and R., retired from North Carolina live two houses away. Down the street, is an Army Silver Medal winner from the Vietnam era who just sent a daughter off to California and a new career.
- All of them made in the image of God.
- All of them need a Savior.
- All of them were placed on this block for a purpose.
Some other important facts:
- None of them are projects.
- None of them are targets.
- None of them need a superficial friend.
One more thing:
- All of them need to be respected and honored.
Pray that all our efforts to befriend, love, and serve coupled with our bold proclamations of the Gospel will produce fruit in their lives and for their joy in the Kingdom of God.
Now that Stephnie is here, we are really starting to settle into our home and our community. Boxes are getting emptied. Some plumbing issues have been updated. We are looking forward to now seeing some of our friends that have moved to the “area”. The Helmus’s are about two hours away. The Taylors are about seven hours away. Two friends from college are within 20 minutes. A former elder from New Song’s earliest years is only about 15 minutes away. My brother and his wife are an hour away. My uncle and his family are less than three hours away. We are looking forward to seeing each of them and catching up on all the things that God is doing in our midst. One of my college roommates is also close by.
We are a small church (about 180), but there are a remarkable number of godly men who are more than competent to preach. (I have 8 men, that I know of, who have Master’s of Arts or more and at least four that have pastoral ministry experience.) We have an embarrassment of riches in terms of leadership. And with it comes a huge responsibility to utilize each of these talented members in ways that maximize their impact for the Kingdom of God.
One to one discipleship is producing good fruit in people’s lives as men and women who have been followers of Christ for yours are finally making headway in making disciples themselves. Small Groups (we call them Home-Groups) include about 80% of our adults and continue to grow in number and depth. We will probably launch two more in the next few months. A small group of prayer warriors is meeting on Tuesday mornings and praying for one thing–revival. They are earnestly asking God to do a work that can only be explained by the supernatural hand of God.
One of my concerns is that it is too easy for churches in the South to survive and even thrive on transfer growth rather than through conversion. We are beginning to pray with greater passion for God to move us and make the whole church bold for Him. Would you pray with us? It’s getting late so I will sign off. That’s all for this update on the Schoenleber family.
One more thing: Stephnie hates snakes! She spotted one out front and was really weirded out.
Many of you know that the last two years have been extremely trying for the Schoenleber family. Over the last two years, Stephnie and I have been apart more than we have been together due to family health issues, conferences, buying and selling a house, job displacement, and new ministry callings. It has given us a new perspective on the ordeals and sacrifices that military and missionary families endure on a regular basis.
Yesterday, one of those chapters came to a close with the home-going of Stephnie’s mom. Steph left last Sunday to return to West Virginia and care for her mom who has been in hospice for the better part of the last two months. It has been a difficult time but one that had the most peaceful of endings and Stephnie was able to be there and hold her mother’s hand as she passed into the presence of Christ.
This past week I was talking to Thelma Hubbard, one of the precious older saints at Manchester Creek. I wish all of you knew both she and her husband Kent, who at 98 and 96 respectively, are some of the sharpest minds in the church. Anyway, we were talking and Thelma shared with me that when her mother was in Hospice she started praying that God, in his mercy, would allow her to be holding her mother’s hand when she passed. And God answered her prayer.
I thanked Thelma for her story and sensed that God was calling me to pray the same thing for Stephnie. My prayers were answered and Steph told me that her mom’s last breath was “Absolutely the most peaceful home going” she could imagine.
Isn’t God marvelous to shower us with mercies like these?
But we and the family will need new mercies going forward. So today, I stopped the mail, arranged for someone else to preach on Sunday, packed my bags, scheduled a flight, found a friend to take me to the airport, and worked on the funeral service. Later this afternoon, two hours from now, I will head to the airport, for what should take two hours of flying time but on such short notice, will include a detour, a layover and have me arrive at 11:30 PM to the exhausted arms of my wife and another 1.5 hour drive to mom’s house.
Would you pray for our children who are traveling together from Chicago for the funeral and for dear Anna, our son’s wonderful wife, who will take care of the two grandchildren of our oldest daughter, Meredith? Pray for Stephnie and her sister and brother as well as Deloris’ sister who is also grieving/rejoicing in a life well-lived. And know that I am truly thankful for friends like you who read and pray for these periodic updates.
Well, our house has sold in Watseka and we are moved into our new house in Rock Hill, SC, though there are still a whole lot of boxes to unpack. Our new address will be:
418 Tysons Forest Drive
Rock Hill, SC 29732
Making the new house our home has been hampered somewhat by some family illnesses. Stephnie’s mom is not doing well and she is in West Virginia as I write (June 17th). We have been able to meet our neighbors and have started a home-group on Thursday nights. Yesterday I was out weeding in the front of the house when two delightful neighbors stopped to welcome us to the block. I look forward to getting to know Bill and Jenena in the weeks to come.
And we look forward to your visit, any of you who read this. God is doing great things in the church. My goal was to see 7-8 men trained in One-to-One Discipleship before the end of the year. Already, four men are trained and 8 others are in process! Lives are being changed. Mere men are becoming men of God. We have a headstart on the women but I know that Stephnie will soon catch up. Please keep praying for her as she loves on her mom and eases her mom’s home-going to Jesus.
God has also given me the privilege of mentoring an African-American Church Planter and a couple of good leads to pursue with regard to teaching at the seminary.
Other News: My BLOG at Chosenrebel.me is going to go through some revisions and updating over the next month. I have noticed that the ads that wordpress.com sometimes places at the bottom have included a cult! That is unacceptable so starting today I have upgraded my account to be advertising free.