United World Mission
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings from Minneapolis! This has been an intense month, both academically, but more important, missionally. On an academic front, I had a chance to present papers on a variety of subjects, in Nottingham, Chicago, and Oxford. They were all warmly received, and I felt heartened about the progress and shape of my research and writing. Even more exciting, I delivered a couple of lectures to a tremendous bunch of students at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (part of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries).
What is more significant, our month was largely occupied with mission-oriented travel. The whole family took a weekend-trip back to Bonn, where we reconnected with many old friends and supporters and spoke a bit in our German home-church. It was massively encouraging to see so many friends who support our ministry enthusiatically, and who clearly love us and care about our kids.
At present, I'm in the US; I flew into Chicago to give a paper at the North American Patristics Society conference, and then had a chance to spend the weekend with friends in Wheaton, before heading up north. I stopped in Baraboo to visit Expeditions Unlimited, the Christian wilderness-guiding ministry I worked with for several years, and then drove up to Minneapolis, where I'm visiting old friends from both Wheaton and St Andrews. More than just being a fruitful time for fund-raising, this trip has reminded me of God's profound faithfulness to us in the twelve years since I first left home and went to college in Wheaton. I've had a deep sense of the way that God has used this long season of study to make me more fit for the ministry he has prepared for us in South America, a calling of which I couldn't conceive when I was an undergraduate.
This month has also taught me a great deal about the rich gift that it is to have a support team. I've felt really worn down and brittle over the past couple months, and I've worried about cracking under the various pressures of work, family, ministry, and fund-raising. But spending so much time this month with supporters has been a huge blessing to me, as I have been surrounded by people who love and minister to us, advising, encouraging, and edifying me, renewing my energy and my confidence in God's sovereignty over this process of fund-raising and, indeed, our lives more broadly.
This process of reflection on God's gracious guidance of our life has been especially poignant for us this month as we have reflected on the state of our fund-raising efforts; at the beginning of the month our total regular committments amounted to 33% of what we will need to live from year to year in Argentina. We only have a little more than a year left to do fund-raising before my current contract at Oxford expires, which has left us praying and thinking about what we would do if my contract ended and we hadn't yet raised sufficient funds to deploy. As a result of much reflection and seeking the counsel of many of you, it has seemed wise to at least apply for a couple of teaching positions in the UK, which would give me a stable salary while we continued fund-raising. We would be able to leave either post whenever we suceeded in raising all the funds we need to go to Argentina. Our goal and heart's desire is still to get to Latin America as soon as possible to be in involved in theological education. So in the light of these reflections, last week I applied for two jobs, and I just got an invitation to interview for one of them, a lectureship at the University of Oxford.
We don't have any idea whether this is what God wants us to do with the intervening months between now and the end of our fund-raising; we are trying to be both prudent and sensitive to his leading. So we will see if, while we raise funds to go to Argentina, God might want to continue to prepare us for Latin America by having me develop as a teacher. We'd be exceedingly grateful for your prayers, wisdom, and advice this month as I interview and we seek the Lord's guidance!
Peace be with you all,
Christopher, Michelle, Judah and Asher Hays