It was a typical day at the home of Tommy and Sue Moon. A few students came by just to talk, while a couple of others drop in to snack on Sue’s famous tea and scones. This scene became increasingly bittersweet as the end of the academic year approaches, and the couple prepared to leave Northwestern to pursue God’s next calling in their lives.
Years before their time at Northwestern, both Tommy and Sue did short-term missions in Haiti. “That experience opened our eyes to the needs around the world,” Tommy said. After seven years of pastoral ministry, the two decided to become full-time missionaries in Latin America.
The mission agency appointed them to Puebla, a state in the mountains of Southeast Mexico where they served for 18 years planting churches and engaging in pastoral ministry.
They also spent the last nine years in theological education at the Puebla Bible Seminary training Latin American church planters and pastors.
Tragedy struck when Sue’s brother died from an unexpected heart attack and, shortly after, her mother’s cancer returned. In order to be able to take better care of her mother, Tommy and Sue felt the need to come back to Sue’s home state of Iowa. So, in September of 2007 the couple moved to Orange City and Tommy became the director of missions at NW. The job was a perfect fit.
One of Tommy’s favorite memories working at NW happened during his first year when Nolan Hayes and Amanda Dengler, that year’s SSP coordinators, introduced the Moons to The Office. “They would come over every Thursday to watch it, and soon it became an event,” Tommy said. “Students that we had never met were showing up at our door asking, ‘Is this place where we’re supposed to come to watch The Office?’”
The highlight of Tommy’s year is always the SOS debriefing retreat. “It’s a relaxing time, and I get to listen to all the stories of the students who just returned from the field. I never get tired of hearing what God is doing around the world,” Tommy said. It is easy to see how deeply Tommy and Sue care for the NW students with whom they’ve worked. They still consider the team who went on their very first SSP to Oklahoma as some of their closest friends.
Now Tommy and Sue are getting ready for a new adventure in Hood River, Ore., where Tommy will become the senior pastor at Shepherd of the Valley Bible Church. He is excited about getting back into “that rhythm of regularly preaching and teaching the Bible.” The couple is also looking forward to working together and ministering to the surrounding community that is 50 percent Hispanic.
Katie, the Moon’s only daughter, is happy to see her dad take a pastorship again. “Katie told me, ‘Dad, you won’t be completely satisfied until you’re back on front of the pulpit,’” Tommy said. Therefore, Tommy noted that “the position just seems to fit us.”
However, they will miss the colleagues and students here at NW. “The people who work in the Franken Center are some of the most gracious and dedicated people I’ve ever met. They are in love with God and they love the students. We also have some of the most amazing students in the country. They’re bright, articulate and incredibly spiritually sensitive,” Tommy said.
Beyond that, the Moons will miss the comfort and safety Orange City has provided them for the past several years. “It is a beautiful little town and wonderful and peaceful to just walk or ride a bike. We also like that everything is so close,” Tommy said. “The Tulip Festival is also a perk.”
Tommy and Sue’s final message for NW: “We have loved our years at Northwestern and we have been blessed to get to know students who are so mobilized and motivated to look beyond themselves to the needs of others. This gives me great hope for the Church in the U.S. And thank you to all of our friends and students here at Northwestern who were so kind and supportive when Sue lost her parents. We will always appreciate your love to us.”