“Something Old” to “Something New”

Jon Barr, Executive Director of Training Development


Jon & Son Barr Moving to YMI’s Home Office  

If you read YMI’s history (click HERE), it is also my history – the first trainer of YMI, who trained the first youth pastor of YMI, Charles Juma (read his story HERE).

From 1989-1996 I worked alongside Randy developing YMI, but in 1996 I transferred to United World Mission where I met  Sonnet who had left the corporate world to work in Development for UWM. We married in 1997 and in 1999 began a 20-year ministry in Moscow Russia. It isn’t an easy field in which to serve but God has blessed us and we know there are lives and families that have been changed because of our ministry.

When Randy approached us last summer about rejoining the staff of YMI (which wasn’t the first time he had asked) we told him our response would be the same as before – “No, God hasn’t released us from Moscow.”

Randy, being the persuasive person he is, invited us to England for the bi-annual YMI total team summit to talk about old times and meet his team of YMI trainers. It’s hot in Moscow in the summer and it seemed like a nice vacation, “but God” (two of our favorite words!) had something else in mind. In a very short period at the summit, we both felt something special was happening within both us and at YMI.

Their team of trainers and their wives were sharp and focused. The organization was focused on making each of their missionaries successful. And of course, YMI’s focus on youth hit me in the heart. We had been prepared to tell Randy “no thank you,” but God changed both of our hearts and minds that week to say “Yes”.  Some might say that God had this in mind for me all along, to return to my roots at YMI… The Old past history” becoming “The New expanding future!”

Ministering in Russia we have learned much and have developed skills that will serve us well in our new roles at YMI – [Jon as Executive Director of Training Development and Sonnet as Director of Ministry Advancement]. And just as God has a new path for us with YMI, we know He has a new path for those we leave behind in Russia.

We are excited to bring our gifts, talents and field experiences of 20 years in Russia and magnify the results in a global way with YMI.

“I, along with our entire YMI team, are truly ecstatic and delighted to have Jon and Sonnet joining our home office team in the next few months!

“Before Jon met and married Sonnet, he helped me start and develop YMI from 1989 to 1996. Jon and Sonnet will be an invaluable asset to YMI’s vastly expanding ministry and will greatly enhance our administrative and on-field training support for all of those programs!

“We believe that YMI would struggle to expand any further without the skills and experience that this couple brings to the table. Their international cross-cultural experience and superior leadership and management skills meet a huge present need for YMI at just the right time.”                       —Dr. Randy Smith