Earlier this year, Jon and Rachael Hastings were featured during Missions Month at Citylight. A lot has happened since then and our Story Team caught up with them to share the latest.
Six months ago, Jon and Rachael Hastings were working full time jobs as they prepared and raised support for global missions work. Having what felt like an affirming season of support goals being met, a wave of discouragement started to move in as financial support slowed down and the pace of life sped up. In order to arrive on the field in early 2022, they needed to continue working towards these goals, but coming home after full work days and switching into support raising mode in the time they had left was starting to wear them down.
“It was a lot,” confessed Jon. “I just kept going back to our vision trip we took a few years ago to Eastern Europe. When I was there I struck up a conversation with one of the missionaries about taking the next steps towards global missions. He said that, when you make that decision to become a missionary and are praying if it’s God’s will, you kind of have to just get started and go. At some point you might feel like you’ve hit a wall. Just because it feels like that, doesn’t mean God isn’t still in this. Go around the wall. Go up or under or take another path. You do have to continue pushing through to get there. That truth has been so incredibly helpful, especially with support raising.”
Rachael shared that “It was fast in the beginning, but then the support raising slowed down. It felt like we weren’t making any headway. Sometimes I found myself asking if God is removing His calling? Maybe this isn’t it. Also, with all of the work we were putting in, I felt like I forgot how to be a spouse.”
In June, Jon found out that his job was being eliminated and the weight of doubt set in even deeper. They had to start considering if Jon should apply to take a stipend, which would come out of the support they were raising, or look for a job for the next few months.
“We had started an informal relationship with Citylight earlier this year,” said Rachael. “In the middle of June, we got the call from Citylight leadership letting us know that they were officially becoming our sending church and offering up the potential for us to leave our jobs and come on staff as Global Missions Residents, until we left for the field.”
Jon and Rachael were stunned. They had not shared with anyone that back in October 2020, Jon had started praying for a position like this to open. Rachael remembered telling him that she wasn’t going to pray for that because it seemed so unrealistic.
“We had dinner with some friends one night in October last year and as we were driving home, Jon said that he was going to pray for this.,” Rachael revealed. “I didn’t want to be hurt. You tend to think missionaries or pastors are like super Christians, and we are not. God was so kind to me in that moment and still is, even when I lack the faith to ask Him for good gifts.”
The Hastings were brought on to help advance Global Missions initiatives as they finish support raising. What felt like a dry period had ended. God gave them the big affirmation and provision they needed.
“It has been such a relief being on staff at Citylight,” Jon declared. “Just having the space to think and breathe as we support raise and to receive training and encouragement. I get to now give my best 8 hours to preparing to go to the mission field alongside Rachael.” Citylight not only offered them a job, but space. Space to be restful and to process and to connect.
Support raising is meaningful and so worth it even though it takes up a significant amount of time. It’s towards a worthy end goal. Jesus.
This burden to share Jesus with people who don’t know Him grew even more for Jon this past year during a trip to Norfolk.
“While we were in Norfolk I was reminded of a good friend who passed away in an accident not too long ago,” Jon shared. “We visited his grave site for the first time since the funeral. We weren’t certain where the grave was and we wandered around trying to find it. Seeing all those people who are no longer with us, and not knowing for sure if my friend knew Jesus or not, it hit me. All those people. All those graves. Wondering if each of those people had an opportunity to hear about Jesus. It made my mind go to Eastern Europe. It’s a place and a people that Satan has on lockdown. There isn’t an opportunity for most people to hear who Jesus is. That’s why we, and the Church as a whole, are called to go to the ends of the earth.”
The mission to multiply disciples is not just in Omaha or the Midwest or in the U.S. It is a global mission.
Rachael shared that “our God is a missionary God. There’s a tendency to sometimes reduce that just to our little bubble we live in. But it’s so much bigger than that!”
Over the course of the past 5 years, they were given an understanding of this ‘big picture’ idea of engaging in God’s mission. Having professors in college who poured into them God’s global mission, attending mission conferences, and hearing workers from around the world share stories from the mission field all opened their eyes and provided clarity. Jon and Rachael quickly found that, when you start to see the world through the lens of God’s mission, you can’t stop.
For the rest of the year and going into 2022, Jon and Rachael will continue raising support and coordinating the Global Missions team at Citylight. Starting October 1, they will attend a six-week training specifically focused on language and culture. This will help prepare them to work with the unreached people group they are planning to focus on, in Eastern Europe.
“Unlike here in the U.S., most people in Eastern Europe don’t know someone who follows Jesus, much less who will invite them into their home and share Him with them,” Rachael stated. “The people group they will work with in Eastern Europe has no Gospel presence among them and have been there for a few generations, but have not been welcomed or integrated well into the culture. This offers a new opportunity to reach them.”
Since they first heard the call to go into international missions, the Hastings have been using the time to learn more about the unreached people groups that they hope to work with in Eastern Europe. Rachael has learned one important fact about these people groups: everything is passed down in the form of a story. Sharing the Bible through storytelling, in an engaging, memorable way, is something they are receiving training on now. Through contacts within the team she will be working with in Eastern Europe, Rachael found someone in the mission field in Eastern Europe who currently is doing this and is willing to equip her with tools and connections.
“I’ve been learning more about Orality and Bible storytelling and our contact in Eastern Europe,” shared Rachael, “said there’s a guy who is there and who is interested in working together so that the women in this unreached people group will now have a chance to hear the story of Jesus. I am able to use my background in theater to help reach women and kids, in this way.”
In Jon’s research of Eastern Europe, he has determined that his training in counseling and mental health can be partnered with discipling a large part of the population.
“On the mission field,” Jon described, “I will be helping them to provide mental health resources for refugees with trauma and integrating that into the discipleship process.”
The focus of the Hastings first year on the mission field will be plugging into a local church and serving that community, while attending language school. The great thing about the language school they will be attending is that it's also the same school refugees attend to learn the language. They are hoping this will be a wonderful relationship building opportunity. After that first year, the Hastings then can begin to look at the unique needs and opportunities and how to plug in with their skills in serving the city. The hope is to settle in the neighborhood they do ministry in. Their greatest concerns are learning a new language and building their support team.
In this journey, the Hastings have learned that, even in the hard, God is still good and has a purpose.
“Just because things are hard doesn’t mean that it’s not good or that God isn’t in it,” Rachael stated. “We have personally learned the opposite. He does call us into things that are hard and have challenges along the way. He is with us, and in it and He is the only one who can do these things. We get to be part of it and that Truth has been and continues to be so humbling.”
God knows and invites us into opportunities to see Him, to learn the Truth He has given to us through His Son Jesus, and to share this Truth with everyone. Are you ready?
The Hasting’s would love to partner with you in the mission of God in Eastern Europe. Currently, the Hasting’s are 64% supported and need to be at 100% to be sent.
To contact Jon, email: Jon.Hastings@gemission.com
To contact Rachael, email: Rachael.Hastings@gemission.com
Facts about the mission field in Eastern Europe:
- 2% of Europeans would say they follow Jesus.
- In the area of Eastern Europe the Hastings will be, there are 26 unreached people groups who have no Gospel access.