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Twists and turns lead couple to Mongolia to teach

Barb and John Tusants
Barb and John Tusant prepare for mission in Mongolia.

With the many twists and turns in their lives, the Rev. John Tusant had not realized God was leading him and his wife, Barbara, on a straight line to teach English and assist at a church in Mongolia.

For 15 years, he has served as director of the Greater Spokane Association of Evangelicals, working with pastors to strengthen their ministries.

Barbara has been teaching 27 years at Northwest Christian School—currently fourth grade.

Their global experiences grew when they decided several years ago to host Korean high school students.  They had previously hosted Japanese students from Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute for weekend stays.

They also visited a daughter when she studied in Holland and went on a mission trip to Mexico.

Barb taught English as a second language for a month at a camp in South Korea in 2005 and 2006.  She earned an ESL certificate in 2008 at Gonzaga University.

At a Mission Catalyst Conference last year at Calvary Spokane, they met a representative of the English Language Institute (ELI) who had taught in Beijing.  He said the ELI was looking for English teachers in Cambodia, China, Laos, Vietnam and Mongolia. 

That started them more consciously on the path to Mongolia.  They were accepted in May.

After five months of training in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, they will teach junior and senior high school English teachers.  They will also be assigned to assist at a church.

After graduating from Rogers High School in 1964, two years of college, four years in the military and three years completing undergraduate studies at George Fox College in 1974, John went on to earn a master’s degree in theology at Western Evangelical Seminary in 1976 and a master’s of divinity there in 1986.

He and Barb, a Ferris High School graduate, met at George Fox.  She earned a degree in music education in 1973.   He served churches in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.  Barb earned credentials to teach elementary school and taught in Priest River before they moved back to Spokane.

John worked five years with World Relief and three with evangelist Luis Palau before he began GSAE.

At GSAE, he was a pastor to pastors and an ecumenical leader among Evangelical churches.  The association’s executive team, which helps plan workshops, events, retreats and benefits, currently has a temporary replacement ministry leader.

John said his job has three basic responsibilities. 

First, he worked beside pastors to create healthy churches and with pastors through one-to-one relationships, seminars and workshops on effective ministry.

Second, he was an evangelical voice in Spokane through his relationships with pastors, paraministries—such as Teen Aid, YFC, Cup of Cool Water and City Gate—and business leaders.

Third, he sought to keep evangelism alive.  For him that means to be “spreaders of Good News.”  It means serving as a connector between pastors, ministries and laity.  The GSAE’s annual directory is a tool to provide that linkage.

With the three-pronged focus to his work, John said he uses the image of a triangle to symbolize that all parts of his ministry, like the sides of a triangle, are connected. A triangle also represents the Trinity—the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—as three in one.

“As pastor to pastors, I spent quality time with pastors because they need support,” he said.  “Pastors can be hurt.  I’m a neutral person and provide a listening ear.”

As a people person, he enjoys hearing their stories and speaking to them about their lives.  He expects to listen to stories and speak to people in Mongolia, too.

John said the final influence on his decision to go to Mongolia was reading the book, Radical: Taking Your Faith back from the American Dream, by David Platt. 

Barb said her decision seemed to be “the next step in being available to how the Lord was preparing me for teaching in other cultures.  I have been praying, saying yes 1,000 times in advance, knowing that whatever opportunity God would bring we would follow.  Nothing happens without prayer.”

“Once God opens up a door,” John said, “it’s an opportunity to make a clear decision.”

John said he and Barb make this leap as others in their generation are moving into retirement, ready to kick off their shoes.

“Being healthy and the GSAE leadership team, Barb’s school  and our daughters giving us the green light, we begin this ministry as an open-ended picture with the paintbrush in the hand of the Painter,” he said.

“We have the opportunity to invest spiritually in a young church of people becoming disciples,” he said.

“Before last year, it was not on our radar,” said John.  “It’s a step of faith because we have to raise our own support to go and live there.” 

With a benefit concert at the end of October, they were halfway to their goal.  They leave the end of February.  His last day at the GSAE is Jan. 15.

For information, call 487-7429 or email jbtusant@gmail.com