“… for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
(Philippians 2:13)


God@Work in the life of Cliff and Wendy Jones

"Cliff and Wendi stressed the importance of Christians being open and transparent with each other regarding their burdens, no matter what they might be."

Leading From the Front

If it’s true that God works all things together for the good of those who are called according to His purposes (Rom 8:28), then you need look no further for proof than Cliff and Wendi Jones.

Through God’s power and grace, Cliff and Wendi are turning their own pain and heartaches with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and infertility into powerful ministries to help others overcome the same kinds of tragedies.

Cliff and Wendy with their adopted son, Braydon

“We’ve experienced some of the most heart-wrenching difficulties possible, ones we never imagined would be part of our story, yet they are,” says Cliff, a U.S. Army Reservist who serves as Chaplain at the federal prison located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. “We figured we’d have a house full of children; I’d have a 20-plus-year career in the military; and we would live the American Dream. Were we wrong, and yet are we ever thankful that God’s ways are not our ways.”

Cliff and Wendi, who live in Southampton, have been attending FAC for the past three and a half years. Cliff serves on the FAC usher and safety ministries; Wendi in the nursery ministry. They are also both active in the men’s and women’s ministries, as well as in a miniChurch.

Although he grew up as a “preacher’s kid” who was in church three times a week and “knew how to play the game of being a Christian,” Cliff says, “Internally, I was a mess and knew I was lost.” It wasn’t until near the start of his senior year of high school that he came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

“I attended a Christian camp. During one of the evening worship services, I was under deep conviction. I finally decided it was time to end the game and that night I placed my faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sin and to establish a relationship with God.”
Wendi was also born and raised in a Christian home. She accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of four, but she didn’t really live out her faith growing up and was “mediocre about her walk with God.” After making some poor decisions, she attended The Wilds Camp in North Carolina for her senior class trip. It was there that the Holy Spirit worked on her heart, and she re-dedicated her life to God.

Facing the Pain of Infertility

In 2003, after three years of marriage, Cliff and Wendi felt God leading them to start a family. Late that year, they were thrilled to find out Wendi was pregnant. But on Christmas Day, they suffered a devastating miscarriage.

“I remember breaking down telling my parents about our miscarriage,” Cliff recalls. “I remember thinking, ‘Why us, God?’ and ‘How come all these other people can have kids and many don’t even seem fit to be parents?’”

Moreover, their attempts to become pregnant over the next several years failed. The doctors never could come up with an explanation for their infertility.

EllaMarie, Wendy, Cliff, and Braydon

“When we realized we may never have a naturally born child in our home, it hit us hard,” Wendi says. “Honestly, it was a loss that we had to grieve. It’s a loss we still grieve. Different events and different times trigger different feelings and emotions.” Nevertheless, they were still able to draw closer to God because at the time their world was rocked the hardest, “God sustained us and brought internal peace in the middle of the storm,” Cliff says.

Ultimately, the couple decided to pursue adoption. “We had always thought of the idea of adopting after we had our own biological children,” Wendi says. They adopted their first child, Braydon, now nine, eight years after they were married. EllaMarie, now three, came along in 2013.

Facing the Pain of PTSD

Cliff Jones in Afghanistan

Summer of 2012, Southern Afghanistan Cliff Jones with paratroopers from Bravo Battery, 2-321 Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, and 82nd Airborne Division

During this same time, Cliff was also serving in the military as a chaplain ― first in the U.S. Air Force and then in the U.S. Army, with deployments to Iraq in 2007-08 and to Afghanistan in 2012. He was also part of the initial wave of responders to Louisiana and Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“Being in the military can put you into some pretty rough spots. As a chaplain, those awful experiences are often what open the door for amazing ministry opportunities to share and show the love of God,” Cliff says. “However, those moments can also change your heart, mind, and life forever. Death, loss of limbs, traumatic injuries, destruction, fear of being blown up by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device), getting shot at with firearms or rockets and mortars will affect an individual.”

Indeed, Cliff was diagnosed with PTSD in 2013, thanks in no small part to an encounter he had after preaching at a chapel service at Ft. Bragg, NC.

“A man came up to me and asked me who I was seeing for my PTSD,” Cliff recalled. “I laughed out loud and thought, ‘I don’t even know this guy. How does he know I have PTSD?’ Apparently, he could sense my struggle and felt led to talk with me.” The man returned the following week to see if Cliff had sought help yet. When Cliff said he hadn’t, the man handed him a business card for his own counselor.

“I was blown away. I later found out that my new friend was not just ‘some guy.’ He was a colonel and a chaplain and a Purple Heart recipient from the War in Iraq. That man is now someone I owe so much to because without his prodding, I’m not sure where I’d be today. That conversation started me on the road of life that has forever changed me for the better.”

That is not to say Cliff is cured of PTSD.

“I’m not going to lie. I’m not through it, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be,” he says, noting that loud noises can still startle him. He tends to be hypervigilant at times and still suffers from nightmares and insomnia. He calls his PTSD both a blessing and a curse.
“Dealing with all of these symptoms is draining,” Cliff says, “but I feel like I have a better sense of what is going on around me and can provide more safety and security for my home and family.”

The key to day-to-day living, he says, is “to be open with others and to seek the appropriate help.” Cliff relies on his network of fellow pastors, friends, miniChurch, and men’s groups for accountability and support.

“I like to think that I am not a victim of PTSD. Rather, I am a veteran, father, husband, and Christian who battles PTSD ― daily,” he says. “Friendships, volunteering, meeting with a counselor, medicine, and accountability have all played a part in my daily life. Without the whole package, I’d be lacking.”

Turning Trials Into Ministries

“Here’s the beautiful part,” Cliff says, “God uses our weaknesses and heartaches to help others get through their own trials. I wouldn’t wish any of what I’ve experienced on anyone; however, I am now able to pay it forward to others. I’ve been able to encourage others, both veterans and civilians, as they work through their own PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other issues.”
He and Wendi have also started a ministry, MIA2HOPE, aimed specifically at helping other couples overcome the trials of miscarriage, infertility, and adoption.

“Cliff and Wendi stressed the importance of Christians being open and transparent with each other regarding their burdens, no matter what they might be.”

“Those dealing with a miscarriage, infertility or even the adoption process can feel like they are missing in action and all alone,” Wendi says. “We know that feeling firsthand, and we hope to help others who are experiencing similar feelings. You can’t do life alone, especially in the hard times.”

Cliff cites Deuteronomy 10:18 and James 1:27, passages that both call for caring for the widow and orphan, as inspiration for their efforts.

“If defending these two special groups of people is important to God, it should be important for His children,” he says. “We are called to do so in whatever way we can. Adoption is not for everyone, but supporting the children without a home in some way is.”

In closing, Cliff and Wendi stressed the importance of Christians being open and transparent with each other regarding their burdens, no matter what they might be.

Cliff says, “It’s time for us all to start being honest, open, and accountable. The Jones family is trying to lead from the front.” •