May 2016: John and Marissa Sharbaugh
It’s easy for us to think that reaching the nations for Christ requires us to move overseas and be completely immersed in a foreign culture, but that may not always be the case. John (’07) and Marissa (’07) Sharbaugh are reaching the nations at Iowa State University—home to more than 4,000 international students each year.
While in the Biblical Studies program at Faith, John had the opportunity to teach English at a business college in China one summer. God instilled in John a love for Asia through that trip and eventually began leading him toward vocational missions. John and Marissa were married during Christmas break of their senior year at Faith.
After graduation, God blessed John and Marissa with their first child, Emerson, in 2007. When God brought them through a miscarriage of their second child nine months later, the couple began seeing and knowing God as a God of comfort. When Marissa was pregnant with their third child, she and John were beginning the process of becoming missionaries in East Asia. When Malachi was born in October of 2009, he was diagnosed with CHARGE Syndrome, a syndrome caused by genetic and complex disorders. John and Marissa spent the next seven months in the hospital with Malachi until the Lord called him home. At Malachi’s funeral, Marissa was already two months pregnant with Jackson, who was born in November of 2010. “Jackson has been a means of grace as we trust that one day God will wipe away all of our tears,” Marissa said.
While dealing with the grief of these events, God was tugging at John and Marissa’s hearts toward international students and ministering to them. Through connecting with international students, the Sharbaughs could still impact the world for Jesus Christ. They were called to minister with Lighthouse International Fellowship (LIFE) at Iowa State University, a ministry of CrossRoad Baptist Church in Ames.
“The LIGHTHOUSE Student Center is located just across the street from the main campus of Iowa State University,” Marissa explained. “LIFE began in 1982 and exists to make known the God of all nations through the discipleship of internationals. We seek to build disciple-making disciples as we evangelize the lost, edify new believers, and equip future leaders.”
At LIFE meetings, they use Bible studies as well as English-conversation lessons as opportunities to share Christ. John and Marissa are commissioned missionaries from Calvary Baptist Church in Plainfield, Indiana. It is truly exciting to hear reports of alumni being faithful in their ministries to the Lord and fulfilling their calling to share the gospel with the Word to the World.