In 2007, while on our way to Mauritania, we were featured in YWAM Tyler's quarterly magazine. This is a reprint of that article.
In January 2002, Sean and Jeri Clark, along with their young daughter, came to train as missionaries at YWAM Tyler. For most people, making the decision to do this is difficult enough. For the Clarks, it was just one part in the painful process of grieving, healing, redemption, and ultimately calling, that came in the wake of a family tragedy.
It had been a month since our 16-month-old, Wilson Henry, died. We were still marking off time by the event of his death and not by the calendar. The rest of the world was reeling from the Twin Towers attack only two weeks prior. We were outside of ourselves, neither able to truly grieve over our loss and certainly not able to join with humanity and mourn the tragedy of the lives lost on September 11, 2OO1. We seemed to make most decisions on autopilot; most problems’ significance was eroded away in the shadow of the upheaval in which our son’s fatal home accident had left us. We moved out of our apartment the day after the funeral and into Jeri’s grandma’s house in an effort to keep from searching the same five rooms for a little red-haired boy who couldn’t be found. We paid off all outstanding debt and let go of anything too big to fit in the minivan. We made it to that point because while we were sitting in the living room of our ridiculously overpriced Southern California apartment waiting for some policeman with the unfortunate duty of telling us the hospital called to say “there was nothing they could do,” we made three promises: we wouldn’t blame ourselves, we wouldn’t blame each other, and we wouldn’t blame God. Any one of those would have been easy, satisfying, and within the rights of a desperate parent. And if we had taken that path we would still be in that place to this day and God would never have gotten a chance to show us His limitless grace, His unending provision, and His faithfulness of redemption.
As the Clarks made the decision to come to YWAM Tyler, so began a healing journey that would uncover more of God’s plan for their lives. After completing their Discipleship Training School and School of Evangelism, Sean and Jeri joined YWAM Tyler’s full-time staff. Sean worked in the Communications Department while Jeri took care of their daughter and helped in the planning of the YWAM Olympic Games outreach to Greece. In addition to their other work they later joined training school staff as small group leaders and spent two years coordinating and leading stateside outreaches. Four years and three more children later, Sean and Jeri felt God gently broadening their vision.
We came to YWAM before we had a call to a foreign nation. But over the past couple of years we became aware of a missionary family serving in Mauritania. We got a chance to meet them while they were on furlough and knew this was where God wanted us to be.
In the initial stages of their preparation to move to Mauritania, the Lord directed Sean and Jeri to do the School of Strategic Missions offered at YWAM Tyler in the fall of 2006. The course is a training program designed for missionaries who sense God’s call to a frontier mission field. The lecture phase covers subjects such as serving cross-culturally, pioneering principles, team conflict resolution, and interceding to influence nations. For Sean and Jeri, the field phase includes a trip to Africa and language school. Sean and Jeri will work with an organization which helps rehabilitate recently released prisoners.
When we came to Texas in 2OO2 we set out for the rest of our lives to bring God’s blessing to the nations. It amazes us how God and our supporters have been faithful through each new challenge. Our next challenge is bigger than anything we’ve experienced so far, but not bigger than God. Our family is ready to go overseas as a family to serve. We simply ask you to pray for us. The enemy does not want us to succeed; your prayers will help to cover our family.
Please join the YWAM Tyler family as we lift the Clarks in prayer during the coming months. As they step out in obedience, they need to know that we are covering their family in prayer. This is how we can all play a part in fulfilling the Great Commission. If it’s not possible to go, then pray for those who do!We went to Mauritania and to language school but our hopes of permanent placement were short lived. The following is a excerpt from our newsletter in 2009.
Early in July we shared with our Sunday School class our testimony and how our plans for Africa were coming along. After telling the story about Wilson’s death and our journey to Texas we explained we didn’t know why God kept us from going to Africa and then week later tragedy struck.
Our friend and future team leader was killed in the street in Nouakchott, Mauritania. He was going in to work that morning and in a failed kidnapping attempt was shot and killed in the same neighborhood he’d been teaching locals for seven years. A shock wave reverberated throughout the community and the missionary workers in the city. His wife and four children were immediately evacuated by US Embassy officials back to Tennessee. Was it just a kidnapping attempt gone wrong or was it something more violently motivated? The answer came just days later when the North Africa branch of al Qaeda claimed responsibility for killing the “Christianizer.” Well that was it. As established in the community as they were, as peaceful as Mauritania seemed to be, and as careful as they were to not be known as missionaries he was martyred for his faith. We are devastated and disappointed but we’re glad we aren’t there now. We wept for Chris’ family. The loss of a father and husband seems too much to bare. We know with confidence God can and will redeem their loss, without a doubt. Nevertheless it is a hard road to walk down. It is with this weighing on our heart that we pray for the Leggets but also find consolation that we didn’t get to go when we wanted to go.
At his funeral the minister pointed out the Bible was very clear that obedience to God wasn’t always the safest place to be but it is always the best place to be. As we remember our friend, who was killed while serving, we encourage you to do the hard thing, live without regret, and follow God where he leads you.
We go where God calls us. We seek His will for the next step for our family to serve overseas. Pray the way will open for our next foreign destination.So we continued to serve in Texas. Jeri trained and became a licensed midwife and started delivering babies. Our children grew and now we have teenagers. All the while we sought opportunities to find a way back to Africa. In 2011 we opened our home to Jeri's 93 year-old grandmother whose health was in decline. The subsequent trip to California for her memorial allowed us to reconnect with dear friends who were six years into a children's home in Uganda. Jeri joined them for a short-term medical trip in 2013 and we found our destination for our return to Africa.
Won't you join us?