Preparing to provide transformational theological education to Latin American pastors and scholars
United World Mission
Dear Friends and Family,
The last remnants of the snowstorm that gave us a white Christmas in Oxford have melted away, allowing me to detach my bike from the fence to which it was frozen, and make my way to work without the splashing through grey slush. We had a wonderful and quiet Christmas (well, quiet until the boys opened their presents) and I was able to take a couple days off work as well. Now that I'm back in the office and we've had a little time to process my recent trip to Latin America, we wanted to share with you all how our thoughts have developed.
To begin with, we've been able to exclude one institution from our list. I interviewed at a seminary in Costa Rica, and while I very much enjoyed the North American and Latino faculty there, it became apparent during the course of the interview that the seminary would not be a happy home for me theologically. As many of you know, we're commited to working in an faculty that is predominately Latino, both in terms of its demographics and theological interests, and I think that this school was more reflective of conservative US commitments than would be ideal for us. In addition, it was clear that the school was not in a position to even consider offering doctoral supervision for its students, which is something to which we feel called.
The Columbian school I visited, FUSBC, in Medellin, was more promising. My interview went very well, and the faculty responded positively to my doctrine and theological approach. I enjoyed the dynamics of the faculty, which was both more South American in its constitution and more committed to research than the school in Costa Rica. The faculty and students had developed a wonderful community, and the campus was lovely. Still, certain downsides do exist to FUSBC. The dangers of Medellin as a city create logistical challenges for our family, and it also seems that the institution is a bit unstable in terms of its finances and leadership (the current rector is stepping down for health reasons). They are very interested in offering a PhD program, but it would probably take a decade for such a program to come together (assuming that the new rector was warmly inclined to the proposition).
Finally, when I was in Atlanta I interviewed with the rector of a school in Argentina (ISEDET). That interview actually went much better than I had anticipated, since my correspondence with the personnel at ISEDET intially was not met with much enthusiasm. The rector was very interested in me, and I have since engaged in a more detailed correspondence with the head of their Biblical Studies Department. Buenos Aires, where ISEDET is located, would be a much easier to place to raise a family than Medellin, and the school already has a doctoral program, a strong library, and a commitment to fostering research.
So here is how we are tenatively planning to move forward: I have been asked to come give an intensive Masters course in April at a seminary in Lima, Peru (at a school with which I'm not interested in affiliating permanently). This will provide me with a ticket to South America, and from there I will return to Medellin to give some lectures (this is the final step in Medellin's evaluation process). It also seems likely that I will visit ISEDET on the same trip, to interview and lecture there as well. Hopefully at that point, after seeing Buenos Aires in person and hearing whether or not FUSBC and ISEDET would like to offer me a position, we will be in a position to make a final decision.
We are grateful for all the guidance and encouragement we have received from you over the past several months. For those of you praying for us, we'd be grateful if you could particularly pray for me to find a conversation partner with whom I can practice my Spanish over the coming months. We'd also value any input you might have to offer us in making this decision.
Peace be with you all, and may God bless you in the coming year,
Christopher, Michelle, Judah, and Asher Hays
With boys at the ages of two and six, the magic of Santa is very much alive and Christmas is a lot of fun. Judah and Asher woke up on Christmas morning eager to come downstairs and see what Santa had delivered. Chris stalled with a prayer and a story and then told Judah to count to 400 before coming down. We captured their expressions and you can see a few of our other Christmas pictures on Facebook. Though we did miss being with our extended families, we really enjoyed the rare chance to stay in and relax as a family. Chris and I were able to sip coffee and talk over Christmas music and Judah and Asher loved the chance to revel in their new toys. Because we got a fair bit of snow, the boys bundled up and made one of their first snowmen out in the back garden. It was decorated in kind of a non-traditional manner since Asher voted for a Bob the Builder hat and we ended up using olives as buttons and a red fruit roll-up for a mouth. Nevertheless, the boys greeted it every morning through the window and can't wait for it to snow again so we can make another one.
We hope that all of you were also able to have memorable Christmas celebrations with your friends and family. Thank you again for continuing to pray for our family as we try to discern where God would have us base the next stage of our lives and ministry.