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Clay and Hannah Jones (back, center) pause for a selfie with MTW's Sam Kang.

How a Vision Trip to El Salvador Helped Confirm Our Calling: A Q&A With New Missionary Clay Jones

By Clay Jones, Nov 29, 2022

We recently interviewed new missionary Clay Jones about the vision trip to El Salvador that solidified his family's calling, propelling them toward a new MTW missions field.

Q. Why did you decide to go on a vision trip to El Salvador?

A. My wife, Hannah, and I felt the call to long-term missions at the beginning of 2021 after the mission conference hosted by our church, First Presbyterian Church Macon. We didn’t know what we could do on the field or where we would serve. As we began to pursue this call to missions, El Salvador was not on our radar. In fact, we didn’t know MTW was in the process of establishing a brand new work there. Our MTW candidate specialist, Tina Simpson, offered to send our bio to several teams in Latin America since we had not developed a passion for any country in particular; we just felt a call to Spanish-speaking people. Almost immediately we were contacted by MTW missionaries Rodney and Jana Davila about an opportunity to help establish a church in El Salvador. As we got to know the Davilas over the next few months (providentially they were on home ministry assignment and were only two hours from us!) we began to develop a great relationship with them and a heart for El Salvador. At one point, we were exploring three different fields and decided to solely pursue El Salvador. Our prayer was that the vision trip would serve as an opportunity for final affirmation from the Lord that this was indeed the place He was calling us to serve.

Jones Family

Q. What did you do on the trip?

A. Although the vision trip was only four days, it felt like so much was accomplished. The most encouraging activities were the times we spent in prayer for El Salvador and for the team going to serve in El Salvador. It was great to hear Rodney share his vision and mission and to sense the excitement he had. We also got to visit an organization we plan to collaborate with, Mission to El Salvador, and hear about the work they do and the people they serve. It was so encouraging to hear that they have been praying for 12 years for a Reformed church plant in El Salvador! We had time for some practical activities like driving through some of the neighborhoods where we might live and past the school we might have our boys attend, and perusing the local grocery stores to have an idea of what is available for meals and cooking. In addition, we were able to enjoy some touristy activities like eating local food at local restaurants, taking a walking tour of the capital city of San Salvador, and visiting a dormant volcano and an outdoor market. 

Q. What about the trip was instrumental in discerning your calling?

A. Hannah and I were confident at this point that God was calling us to long-term missions. He had continued to open doors and now we had arrived at our final step in this season of our calling; affirmation that the Lord was in fact calling us to El Salvador. Everything about the trip not only affirmed our call to missions but also where to go. Being there in person, we realized this is a place we can call home, we can put roots down, and we can serve the Lord. Although civil war, poverty, and addiction has characterized El Salvador’s history, the people are strikingly kind, resilient, and welcoming. Mission to El Salvador has prayed over this country for more than 12 years to prepare for the work to come! Being there and having that peace from the Holy Spirit gave us that moment where we thought: "This is the place the Lord has called us to be."

El Salvador

Q. Tell me more about your calling.

A. I have known and felt a calling to missions for a long time. The first time it cemented in my heart was during an opportunity to spend two months in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2009, doing college ministry. Unfortunately, when I came back from this trip with a passion and desire to return full time, I learned I had significant student loan debt, over $200,000.

The desire to “go” never went away, but the ability was not there. Hannah and I married in 2013 and God provided in many ways over the first seven years of our marriage. We were faithful to tithe and give thanks for the many blessings we received. Then in 2020, through a series of providential, amazing, and miraculous events, Hannah and I were able to reduce my student loan debt down to just $8,000. God is good and faithful!

After we paid everything off, Hannah said to me, “I am not sure what God has planned for us, but I know it’s not to just go live the American dream. He did this for a purpose, and I am excited to see what He has in store!” Indeed, it was something big.

At our church’s mission conference in 2021, the Holy Spirit revived in me the desire to go and serve. At least four different missionaries in their recorded videos (no one was able to be there in person) said the same thing: “No matter what skills, talents, or gifts you have, if you are willing to go, God can use you.” This spoke directly into my heart. Afterward Hannah brought up going on a short-term mission trip as a family now that we were more financially able.

It was clear the Holy Spirt was working and God was calling. Over the next year we walked through the process of becoming missionaries with MTW, intentionally moving slowly each step of the way to make sure we were able to hear and discern the will of the Lord.

Selfie by Jana

Q. Is there value in going on a vision trip even if you aren’t planning to serve in missions?

A. I am 100% certain there is value in taking a vision trip without the intention of serving in missions. There are multiple reasons why, many of which I saw on our vision trip. A member of our church joined us on the vision trip so that he could understand the needs and help lead short-term teams to El Salvador. This was incredibly encouraging to Hannah and me!

Another vision trip participant came just to see the new field. She had a job at the time with no serious intention of moving to El Salvador, but she is now planning to join our team for an initial term. We also had people on the vision trip who came with the sole purpose of hearing and seeing the vision, that they might go back and be champions for the work that we will do in El Salvador. They desire to get the word out and see others join our team as well.

I would venture to guess that everyone that came on the vision trip came back rejoicing, celebrating, and praising God for the work He is doing and the way He has prepared the way for the work to come.

Interested in taking a vision trip? Contact your regional hub to find out about upcoming opportunities at mtw.org/hubs.

Clay Jones
Clay Jones and his wife, Hannah, are leaving behind successful careers in industrial manufacturing and marketing to serve the Lord on a new MTW team in El Salvador. Visit their missionary profile to learn more about their ministry.
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Pray that God would raise up a team who can minister in the midst of this extreme poverty, and for the people they will serve. 

Give thanks to God for raising up a new team led by veteran missionaries. Pray the team will impact the culture of El Salvador by identifying and training leaders who have a vision to start churches in their communities. 

Pray for church-planting work to increase and bear much fruit in strategic cities around the world that are filling with diverse international populations.

Pray for a small group men's study in the Middle East as men seek to learn truth Scripture while wrestling with the realities of what ISIS has taken from them.

Give thanks for the church leaders that God has been raising up in Bogota, Colombia. Pray that this growth will continue. 

Pray for college students around the world to be impacted through MTW’s partnership with RUF.

Pray today for the unreached living in Central Asia, as well as for the local believers and missionaries hoping to reach them. Pray for relationships and conversations of faith. 

Pray for those who God is calling to missions, that God would clarify their call, and equip them to serve Him.

Give thanks for the work God is doing in South Asia in the wake of COVID lockdown relief. Ask God to grow the new believers who came to faith in Christ as a result.

Pray that God would meet the needs of itinerating and long-serving missionaries, raising up their financial and prayer support.

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