Passing the Baton

By Woody McLendon

Today I have the incredible privilege and joy of passing the baton of leadership as JAARS President to my brother in Christ, and now dear friend, Steve Russell.

Reflecting back on twenty-one years of ministry at JAARS, and just over ten years as president, I’m overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude and thankfulness. What makes JAARS special isn’t just its mission—though it is significant.

Outgoing president Woody McLendon passes the baton to incoming JAARS president Steve Russell.

What I will hold onto are memories of the special brothers and sisters in Christ I’ve had the privilege to work alongside for these many years. I’m glad our friendships can continue even as God moves my wife, Mary, and me into something new in the days ahead.

I’m also thankful for you, dear reader. You and so many like you care to see the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ made available to people in their own languages, and your partnership and interest in JAARS is making that possible. Thank you!

God has called Steve Russell and prepared him over his lifetime of service and ministry for this next chapter at JAARS. I am enormously encouraged and excited to see how God will lead and grow JAARS ministry under Steve’s leadership. Please join me in praying God’s blessing upon Steve and his wife, Cindy, and the entire JAARS team.

Many have asked what’s next for Mary and me. For the next couple of months I’ll be supporting Steve as he gets oriented. After that Mary and I are planning a sabbatical break for refreshment, reflection, and then re-engagement in what God has for us next. We genuinely have no idea what that will be and we’re excited to wait and see how God will lead. Thank you for your prayers for us, too.

I’ll close with two verses from the book of Proverbs that have inspired and challenged me during this season at JAARS. May they likewise encourage and challenge you!


Trust in the Lord with all your heart

    and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

    and he will make your paths straight.

                        — Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV