An article on forced displacement in Colombia, a trip to the UK, and Michelle's map to finding April's treasures.

Dear Friends and Family,

Most months I sit down to write these updates, get most of the way through my laundry list of things we're doing, and then realize that I keep mentioning the seminary's work on forced internal displacement en passant, without ever elaborating on the matter. Today I will remedy that oversight by beginning with displacement. If you want a little factual and theological orientation on the issue, you can take a glance at this article I wrote on forced migration in Colombia for Bible in TransMission, the magazine of the UK Bible Society. 

This month we began our work translating BibleMesh (an online education program for learning Greek and Hebrew) from English to Spanish. We're starting with Hebrew (Level 1) and the seminary has put together a great team to work on the project, including my buddy and fellow UWM-missionary Seth Tarrer. But boy, is it going to be a LOT to accomplish in a short period of time (we want to launch Hebrew 1 by September). 

I zipped off to Britain for a week, in order to attend a smashing conference on faith and science. While I was there, I also met with a number of friends with whom I have long been writing a book on eschatology. The meeting was bittersweet, since I love seeing the crew, but we have come so far that the volume needs only its final bits of revision and polishing, which means we won't be able to keep meeting! During the trip, I also met with a funding body to talk about some of FUSBC's displacement research; I spent a lot of April working on that proposal, so it was great to get some guidance in person!

Some of my buddies tease me for how much I write about books, but the development of our library is crucial for the viability of our graduate program. Just this week I was able to download over 450 excellent academic e-books, all free for Majority World institutions, courtesy of the Society of Biblical Literature. In terms of physical books, our shipment from the Theological Book Network Books has made it as far as customs in Cartagena, and we are hoping for delivery within the next couple of weeks. In that case, you can expect to hear me enthuse even more about books!

Peace be with you all,

Christopher, Michelle, Judah, Asher, and Zoe Hays

From Michelle

This year I am homeschooling Asher and one of the great things about studying at home is that you get to pick your own uniform. Some days that just means wearing comfy clothes but other days that means showing up for class dressed as Batman or a pirate (or both!). Lately, Asher’s pirate costume has gotten a lot of use and Asher and Zoe are frequently adorned with pirate tattoos on their arms. That has inspired me to summarize the happenings of my April in Medellín in a slightly different way. Enjoy!
A Map to April’s Treasure
Begin in the City of Eternal Spring where the mango trees grow
Take your partner by the hand and dance until you find something new to love in Colombian culture
Proceed with caution through a week or so of single parenting
Turn right and drag your small companions to the top of Homework Peak
Take in the view but watch out for unexpected sad news
Make a fort out of every blanket and pillow in the house and rest there with other pirates and their picture books until you regain your strength
Ask the wind one more time to please erase the sounds of the neighbor’s music and the barking dog
Tunnel through any lingering fatigue
End up in a familiar courtyard filled with community, shared stories and laughter
Finish by surrendering your plans and to-do lists to God in order to discover the flexibility and peace you lack
Continue step by step and soon you will find yourself at the end of April and its treasures.

Student Profile

Keymar David Paniza Martínez is a 29 year-old student from Sincelejo, a city on the northern coast of Colombia. Keymar is married to Mónica Ramos Escudero and this month they are expecting their first child. Keymar's first university degree was in accounting, although throughout his studies he also served his denomination. Still, God's plan was to push Keymar into full-time ministry. In 2013 God called Keymar to the seminary, and so in 2014 they packed their bags and moved to Medellín.

Keymar explains "I'm studying in the seminary because I want to serve God in the ministry of biblical teaching and for that I need to be well prepared. My desire is that my service to the Lord would be for the Church and for society. At present, I minister in the local church through preaching in the adult Sunday School. I also have the chance to work as a teaching in Bellavista Prison as part of the Bible institute the seminary supporters there. After I finish my studies I want both to serve the Church and, if God permits, to continue on to postgraduate studies."


Whip smart and highly organized,  Keymar positively dominated every assignment I set for him in our New Testament Introduction class, and he also is excelling as part of my advanced Greek reading group. He's a joy to teach, but more importantly, he is a great asset for the Church in Colombia.

Praise God!

  • For safe travels to and from the UK. I got put through the ringer on the way to the UK, my 14 hour trip becoming a 40-hour saga, but I arrived along with my luggage and in reasonably good humor!
  • For new English e-books for the seminary. (Now we need twice as many in Spanish!)
  • For the initiation of the BibleMesh translation. 

Please Pray

  • For peace, energy, and inspiration as I write. This month I need to make major progress on a number of different writing projects, and to be candid, I feel overwhelmed and worried. Please pray for me to have passion and clarity for the subjects and to make excellent progress. And pray for me to find joy in the process.
  • For favor with the Ministry of Education in the accreditation of the new master's degree. We are expecting to receive a visit from the Ministry of Education this month, which will determine whether or not we can launch the degree in September. But the process has hit a roadblock and we're currently going back and forth with the Ministry of Education to get things going again. Please pray for this entanglement to be resolved swiftly. 
  • For the safe arrival of the books currently in customs in Cartagena.
  • For new cataloging software (a total cost of ca. $7,500) to allow the library to move our thousands of new books into circulation in time for the new master's degree.
  • For Christopher: I feel pretty stressed about all the projects I'm coordinating, and I am wrestling with worry and anxiety. Pray for me to find rest and peace in the midst of much responsibility, and please pray also for me to find supportive collaborators.
  • Also, please pray that God would bring us more faculty members. One of our great needs in the seminary is simply more PhDs on full-time faculty.

Extra days off

Judah has had a number of days off from school this month. Some of them have taken me (Michelle) by surprise which means that we woke up at 4:30 am for absolutely no reason on those days!  However, Zoe and Asher have appreciated the chance to go on a few extra outings like this trip to the science museum.
Copyright © 2015 Christopher and Michelle Hays, United World Mission, All rights reserved.
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