WARSAW — Growing up in St. Louis along the Mississippi River, Jon Siesennop moved up to Kosciusko County in 1986 to join the seminary at Grace College. After being raised in the type of church where men would regularly stand up and speak on their faith, he “felt a call early on” to attend seminary and speak openly about his beliefs.
While he passed his Hebrew and Greek classes, his mentor suggested he work on his speech skills. His mentor recommended Siesennop begin attending Toastmasters in order to practice and improve these public speaking skills. After seven years in Toastmasters, Siesennop had decided he wanted to be a professional speaker. The first time he ever got a chance to preach was by the pool at the Jellystone campground in Plymouth.
He then began feeling called to visit Israel. Siesennop felt the desire to “get into what God called me to do,” he reflected. In November 2013, he took his first trip to Israel. While there he walked the Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus is believed to have walked to his crucifixion. He also planted a tree and viewed olive trees that have been alive for hundreds and hundreds of years.
In November 2018, Siesennop took his second trip to Israel and his first trip to Jordan. His wife, Lorena, stays at home while he goes with a group. They eat fish nearly every day for their 10-day trip. He, along with other members of the group, enjoy visiting and discussing the gates, arches, tombs, gardens and buildings. He commented, “There are so many buildings and gates that confirm scripture.” He feels thankful Jerusalem is becoming a peaceful land where people feel safe. One of his favorite activities while there is doing outreach and sharing gospel stories with others.
Siesennop has an avid interest in history, architecture and archaeology. He shares the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls which states a young boy was watching over his sheep and they ran off into the caves. In order to try to get them out of the caves, the boy began throwing rocks and hit a vase. After getting the sheep out, he went in to investigate and found a large vase with the scrolls hidden inside. When it comes to Israel, Siesennop stated, “There’s so much history in that area.”
Early on in their marriage, Jon and Lorena lived and worked in Texas. He learned “a love for the Spanish culture way back then.” This inspired him to learn the Spanish language and assisted him in his 15 or more visits to Guatemala with Hands of Hope. They provide food and medicine and Siesennop acts as an evangelist. He describes the local Guatemalans as having a large desire to come to Christ and his goal is “to help bring as many people to Christ as possible.”
Recently he gave a talk at the Warsaw Community Public Library on his travels to Israel and Jordan. “Faith is man’s response to God’s initiative,” Siesennop explained. “Believing in what you cannot see.”
He has always enjoyed painting, coloring in the lines and a close attention to detail which inspired Siesennop to open his own painting business. He has since retired. He lives in Warsaw with his wife. They have three children, Rachel, Micah and Elizabeth, who are all now married.
“I want to do more ministry and see where the Lord leads me,” he remarked.