A Schoenleber Family Update
Stardate: April 2022
Resurrection Day! Just home from a wonderful time of worship at Pioneer Church in Rock Hill, SC. The church is young. It’s membership is mostly young. And, being a church plant, everything is a “first time”. It has a wonderful freshness about it. Like all Easter services everywhere in the world, there was joy in the air.
But this Easter was different.
On Good Friday, 15 minutes before the service was to begin, my phone rang. It was my good friend, my best friend since moving to South Carolina number. But it was his wife that answered. Her first words were, “Marty Ben died.” Like his wife, I was in shock.
That’s Ben in the picture above. The 6 foot 4 inch behemoth 2nd from the left. He went home to visit his family in the Philly area in November of 2017, a year after we met. [They actually live in Bensalem where I was raised.] Ben and I were friends for just five and half years, but our hearts were one. We had our storms and our differences not the least of which was that he, a native Philadelphian was a Dallas Cowboys fan! Something I teased him about endlessly as proof of the doctrine of total depravity.
How I loved this giant of man with his great sense of humor, his first class mind, his endless appetite for theological discussion, and his inability to suffer fools and foolishness lightly. On Monday afternoon, 4 days before his heart stopped, he messaged me and said he was feeling stronger. Immediately, I picked up my keys and drove the 2 miles to spend an hour and half laughing and talking with him. We parted with plans to get together again for a lunch. That lunch is now going to take place at the Lamb’s wedding feast in glory.
So this Easter, I am rejoicing through tears. I will see my friend again, but not in this life. Though younger than me, his journey is complete. Can I use this update to request your prayer for Robin, his wife. They were traveling to Ohio when tragedy struck. Pray for her wisdom and comfort as she navigates the future without her husband. Pray for us, as we seek to care for Robin.
Update: three days post-Easter. At about 6:30 PM on Easter, we received news that our great friend and prayer warrior, Ruth Clark, also went to live with Jesus at 5 o’clock on Resurrection day. We rejoice that she who so faithfully and joyfully served Jesus in this life, but we wonder who will step into her shoes and pray for us and for revival.
Schoenleber Family Update
Stardate: October 2021
For the despairing man, there should be kindness from his friend;
Lest he forsake the fear of the Almighty. Job 6:14
Imagine with me a committed 30-something ministry leader who is ready to say, “I’m done.” This God-called, Bible trained, established ministry leader is in despair because there were four men he looked up to, took inspiration and instruction from, FOUR who had moral and integrity failures. Two of the failures were worldwide influencers whose disappointments were revealed to the world, and two of the failures were more intimate with this hurting man. His heart is broken and he is struggling with the messages those four men have sent to those who “watched them, listened to them, and believed what they said while leading others.” The harm done to the kingdom of God, to believers whose trust was betrayed, to non-believers who noted either these four men’s ministries or their downfalls, and especially (for us) this man who potentially has 30-40 years to serve the Lord with zeal—but who now is wondering “How can this happen?”
Thankfully, someone introduced Mike* to Marty. They have been meeting weekly via zoom where Marty is showing kindness and perspective and the Word of God to this ministry leader. Please pray with us that as Mike takes a break from active ministry to heal and to consider if he will remain in the ministry that God will restore to him the joy of his salvation and call. That Mike will have renewed determination to walk with God and tell others about His love, forgiveness, eternal promises and plans. Pray that Satan will not have the victory in this battle. And please pray that a disappointed and broken heart will not add a fifth man to the list “out of the ministry”.
Every believer has people watching them. Walking in a manner worthy of the Lord affects other believers, non-believers, the kingdom of heaven and the demons doing battle. Pray for one another to remain faithful, and if you are having a struggle—share it with another person and ask for help. We’re glad Mike* (*not his real name) did.
Thank you again for your prayers and partnership with us. Please, let us know of particular prayer requests you have. Call, text, or email us. We love you.
Shepherding the shepherds,
Marty and Stephnie
418 Tysons Forest Drive
Rock Hill, SC 29732
Marty 630-308-4088 firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephnie 630-542-4914 email@example.com
Standing Stone Ministry www.standingstoneministry.org
Schoenleber Family Update
Stardate: September 2021
As we step into the fall season, we are also stepping into caring for pastoral couples. Sitting across the table from couples who are stressed and burdened for their church, their children, their finances, and their own marriages is a privilege, both humbling, and terrifying for us. Each of these dear men and women are walking by faith and trusting God with their situations; and they need someone to say to them to “press on, have courage, and be strong in trusting the LORD”. We are trying to be the voice of kindness to these families that directs their hearts to the Savior. Job 6:14 (NASB95):
“For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friends;
So that he does not forsake the fear of the Almighty.”
He will work on your behalf; He cares for you.
They must wait on Him to work in due time in response to their prayers and obedience to Him. Many of them know what they should do in their situations—they have shepherded others for many years—but we must help them to not grow weary in walking by faith and leaving the results to our loving and faithful heavenly Father. It is a joy beyond description when we hear that they are seeing what God is doing on their behalf. They have hope.
We continue to develop new relationships with pastors and ministry leaders (and their wives). Please continue to ask God for contacts with pastors that we may serve. Just a couple of weeks ago, Marty dropped in on a pastor he had been praying for and found him discouraged over developments in his denomination and the seeming blindness of many in his own congregation. Today he met with two pastors, both of whom needed a word of encouragement, some prayer and a brief reminder that God hasn’t abandoned them and neither would their newest friend.
This past week, we had two new families join our team of prayer and giving warriors. Please give thanks as God continues to grow our support team. We are grateful for our new partners. Please ask God to raise additional donor partnerships to our work and to bring us to full support.
If you have read this far, we want to invite you to pray for us but also to send us how we can pray for you. You are part of the team. My email address is Marty.S@standingstoneministry.org. God’s best to you.
So much has happened and so much has changed since our last update. COVID is abating. The weather is heating up. The garden is growing. And the Schoenleber’s are no longer planting a church.
The following update is mostly my brides voice.
February begins . . . we hope this finds you healthy and enjoying the LORD. Thankfully, we remain healthy although shivering with the cold rains. I always think of February, no matter how cold, to be the first dawning of Spring. After all, Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring training! Baseball in 4 weeks!!!!!
Three people from our congregation who are in their 70’s or 80’s now have Covid-19. All have lost their senses of taste and smell and are at home. All are vital and active in their own adventures. Jerry had gone to Alaska to visit his son to help with remodeling—and got the virus there. He remains in quarantine in Alaska. His wife is in SC and healthy. Jim, who seems to have the most severe case which includes a cough, drives multi-states to deliver various products. His wife, Kathy (80), is active as a hospice volunteer. She tests weekly and that’s how she was diagnosed. Please pray for their full recovery without limitations.
Two people are requsting baptism. Two men and three women are being discipled one-on-one. Ben Long, Marty’s partner in the work is teaching a Thursday night class on apologetics and conversationsl evangelism via ZOOM. Praise God with us for these new developments.
The American Legion has yet to respond to our request to use their facility. Marty has visited several times and called, but no news yet. We learned that their board meeting to decide was postponed until this last week. At this point we are not hopeful for this location.
We were scheduled to rent the Emmett Scott Center (ESC) on Friday nights until the end of February. We had it in place just before the Covid numbers in SC went way up and several people balked at meeting inside. Also some people work on Friday nights.
Marty and I offered two Friday night “vision” meetings. We invited couples to sign up for time slots to come and see inside the Emmett Scott Center. The three couples who came were very pleased with the facility, amazed really. They commented that it would work for The Sanctuary for years since there are three large meeting rooms (to fit various sizes of groups up to 1100 people). We’ve discovered that there are also classrooms that could be rented as well. Its location is key since it is in the neighborhood that we wish to reach.
The ESC is very willing to rent to us—please remain prayerful that someone will volunteer to work on Sunday mornings. [We’d thought about having Marty work there part-time and volunteer to work those hours, but park district policy won’t allow employees to work their own events.]
The Sanctuary is meeting via Zoom on Sunday mornings; and once the weather warms, we hope to return outside to the park pavilion while Covid remains an issue. EVERYONE misses being together even if we’re distanced at the park. We expect to begin sharing our individual accounts of how we came to know Jesus personally on our Sunday Zoom meetings too. We are working to get to know one another more.
- for Covid recovery of the sick; and the elimination of the virus (or its effect) around the world
- for the right person to work on Sunday mornings at the Emmett Scott Center
- for the cross-culture nature of our work to be embraced by those we go to; for a “man of peace” in the neighborhood to partner with The Sanctuary. We don’t want to be the “white church”, we want to be the church of “all nations” going into heaven.
- for the deepening of relationships within The Sanctuary and vulnerability in sharing our conversion accounts
Our hearts are full of gratitude for your prayers and financial partnership with this new church plant. Please remember to let us know how we may pray particularly for you. Email requests to Chosen-Rebel@hotmail.com
Schoenleber Family Update
My beautiful bride wrote this one.
I am going to cross-post it at two other locations on the BLOG.
January 13, 2021
“Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. . . . For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places . . . With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” Ephesians 6: 10, 12, 18
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS. Sometimes ministry seems like two steps forward and one step back. We all experience this in life, but here are some current examples for us. Note, I’m not complaining—just saying.
Meeting outside or inside?
With the cold weather and increased Covid 19 concerns here in South Carolina, our Sunday morning worship has gone to Zoom format. Our first was January 10.
Give thanks that our one-time use of the American Legion facility went very well even though some families refrained from indoor participation. We continue to await the American Legion’s decision if we may use their facility on Sunday mornings in the future. We’ll keep you posted.
Please give thanks to the LORD that the Emmett Scott Center has rental times for us on Fridays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. until the end of February. We will use this park district, indoor location for training our leadership starting January 15. Please pray for the good health of the flock and effective equipping and leadership development.
Delayed discipleship appointments
We continue working to equip men and women with one to one discipleship training, but occasionally we need to postpone appointments due to travel related quarantines or family sickness and awaiting their Covid test results (thankfully all have been negative). We have eager disciples, but pokey progress.
CHANGES IN GIVING for our financial support
You may know that in a new church plant “processes” change often. To assist the bookkeeping for The Sanctuary, the church is no longer receiving contributions. (This is to keep church funds separate from personal support funds, that are toward the Schoenleber financial support.)
Instead, and thankfully, Planting Churches Ministries is including us with other church planters they assist to process contributions, handle our paychecks and taxes, etc. You may use this link to go to their GIVE page. Your electronic giving can be done by debit/credit card or from your checking/savings accounts. Please be sure to click Marty Schoenleber at the dropdown APPLY TO box.
If you wish to contribute by personal check, please make the check payable to
Planting Churches Ministry.
Add a note that the contribution is for Marty Schoenleber.
Mail it to:
Marty and I appreciate your understanding in these changes.
If you have questions, please let us know.
[Marty 630-308-4088] or by email.
- Good health and the development of the believers of The Sanctuary to reach new people and to grow in grace and truth.
- Effective communication and understanding; and teaching over Zoom, and through email communication with the church. [There have been some “dropping” of emails . . . it’s either a computer thing or spiritual battle. We do not want anyone to be left out. It’s so easy for folks to misunderstand when errors happen. Please pray for grace to abound.]
- For Marty to discover those families that God has ordained to be a part of our prayer and financial support team. (Support raising is not easy when you can’t visit people.)
We would love to pray particularly for you. Please send requests to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pray for you.
We send our love and appreciation for your partnership with us.
God bless you, and you bless God.
Stephnie (and Marty)
Schoenleber Family Update
Here is part of the latest development for Schoenleber’s latest adventure.
We are moving our new church (The Sanctuary) online for the foreseeable future. Ben and I have come to the realization that our current situation––that even in South Carolina, it is just too cold to continue to meet outside regularly coupled with the rising COVID numbers in our state, that it is wisest for us to make a shift to online.
So beginning tomorrow we will be sending out Zoom invites to all of our core group and moving teaching and prayer to an interactive ZOOM meeting at our regular 10:30 AM time. Our hope is that this will allow all of our people to be involved from the safety of their own homes.
We are thankful that we have this technology while at the same time we recognize that despite all of my internet presence, I am somewhat of a luddite when it comes to using ZOOM. Pray for me. I move to this as a teaching format with great fear that I am not at my best through a screen. If you would like to join us on Sunday morning, send me your email and we will send you an invite to the ZOOM time.
One other bit of news: My steering committee has been crunching some numbers and looking at the reality of the economics related to our target community (over 18 percent living well below the poverty level). Their counsel is that I will have to raise outside dollars to support the work of the church. I had hoped to avoid raising new support at my age but we know that God has always been faithful to supply whatever was needed to whatever He calls us to do. So that is a second prayer request. Pray that my support rasing efforts will be fruitful and that will not completely dominate my time. I also will be looking for some type of outside employment, ideally, in target community that will allow me to serve the families we are trying to reach with the gospel.
Pray, pray and then pray some more. Always rejoicing in the Lord,
Marty and Stephnie
Schoenleber Family Update
Stardate AD, 12/25/20
Merry Christmas! I am sitting with my wife wrapped in a Philadelphia Phillies throw blanket, a gift opened this morning from our youngest daughter. Outside the dusting of snow that fell early this morning, a rarity in South Carolina, is now gone. A Carolina blue sky dominates our window but the wind is picking up and it’s not projected to warm up that much today.
But it’s Christmas and that is always a day of celebration. The King has come. The prophecies have been fulfilled. The Savior is born. The Kingdom is announced. Death is doomed. Eternal life begins. Light has broken into the darkness.
But there is still darkness.
News from Nashville, and only two miles from where our son resides, is pushing all thoughts of Christ off the news for speculation about who / what is behind the bomb that went off destroying structures and creating fear. The year 2020 has been a reminder, to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, that our world needs redemption. Indeed all creation cries out for redemption, for salvation from the corruptions of hate.
19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:19-20)
And the darkness that continues needs the light of the gospel, first proclaimed to shepherds on a hillside outside Bethlehem.
And it is for that reason that we are planting a new multi-ethnic church in the southwest corner of our town where racial diversity is great, poverty is high and hope is in short supply. Here’s our latest news:
- Since June we have been meeting outside, not because of COVID but because we have no place to go inside.
- All attempts to find a place in our target community have been frustrated.
- But, Wednesday, after driving and praying through the area and delivering some gifts to people I have met in the community, I decided to stop at the local VFW post right on the edge of the target community.
- They are going to allow us to use their facility on January 3 and will talk to their board about future possibilities.
Please pray that the board will be favorably disposed to rent to us.
Support for our efforts have been growing. We are very thankful since we have not had a steady paycheck since September. “So how are you buying food and paying your bills?” We have been cared for by God in ways too variable to describe briefly, too wonderfully not to be filled with thanksgiving and too generously not to be brought to tears. Our God is tender in His mercies and provisions. And the whole process has been wonderfully confirming. At my age, I want to spend my energy on teaching and caring for people, building relationships with people and prayer not support raising. So rejoice with us and continue to pray with us that God would make ways for the gospel in the community.
Finally, pray that God would raise up musical talent coupled with hearts that know worship is more than music. At present, our need is great. Would you trust God with us and pray for men and women to join with us who have a passion for Christ and using their gifts to exalt Him.
My bride continues to be the joy at the center of my life. Keep her in your prayers. Afterall, she’s married to me and I’m a lot to deal with. It takes a multi-talented and committed woman to deal with all my ineptitudes. So thankful for the grace of God.
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 head start 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.