FUSBC leaps into an impressive spot in the rankings of Colombian universities, Christopher travels to Argentina, and a new semester kicks off.

Dear Friends and Family,

FUSBC got some exciting and heartening news this month when the rankings of Colombian universities for 2014 were published. In our institutional category (i.e. universities dedicated to one specific field of knowledge), of 27 institutions in Colombia, we were ranked number four. Moreover, in our category we were the top-ranked school in humanities and the top-ranked Protestant institution! This jump in the national rankings reflects a lot of hard and strategic work by the FUSBC faculty and staff, and it's thoroughly encouraging. 

Last week I traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the Society of Biblical Literature International conference. This was the first time that SBL has met in Latin America, and I attended as co-chair of the "Bible and Empire" group. I presided over a number of sessions, but most exciting by far was our session entirely in Spanish and Portuguese (this in a society that functions almost completely in English, perhaps with occasional forays into German and French)! This represents a small but symbolic step towards a more healthy and thriving theological guild in Latin America, and I was delighted to witness it!

The seminary's work on forced internal displacement did receive a bit of a blow this month, as our grant application to the British Academy was rejected. This is not a great surprise, insofar as these competitions are tremendously competitive (including scholars in all field of humanities and social sciences and of all statuses) and insofar as FUSBC is essentially an unknown institution outside of Latin American circles. Still, it was frustrating to see all the work go to waste. In any scenario, we push ahead with another big funding application (this one to the Templeton World Charity Foundation) and we pray that God will provide for this work and grant us success.

Amidst all this other activity, we began a new semester this month. I am teaching Synoptic Gospels, helping teach the research methods class, and running my advanced Greek reading group (in addition to working on numerous other projects for the seminary).  I thoroughly enjoy this batch of students and I am excited to see what emerges from our time together.

Peace be with you all,

Christopher, Michelle, Judah, Asher, and Zoe Hays

From Michelle

Our biggest news this month is that we have moved into a new house! While most of our other moves have been across an ocean or at least across country borders, this move was only to a house just across the street from our former apartment. The community at FUSBC continues to surprise us with their love and care. Students, faculty and staff have helped us pack boxes, move boxes and furniture, care for our kids, and have made many repairs to our new house. We have never had so much help in a move before! Our new house is on the main seminary campus right next to the park. Our whole family is enjoying the extra space and the kids especially love the added freedom it gives them as they can play outside at the park whenever they have a free moment.  We are very grateful to all of our friends here in Colombia and to our supporters who have helped make this move possible. Thank you!  

A lovely afternoon away

During the afternoon of our moving day, the kids and I left Chris alone in the house to get some work done and we attended a birthday party up in the mountains.  We enjoyed the chance to deepen friendships with a few Colombian families, to experience peace and quiet outside of the city, and to take in the gorgeous views of the valley from up high in the mountains. Judah kept himself very busy at the party taking over 200 photos!  

More birthday party fun

Here is Zoe enjoying having a friend who is just her size. 

Praise God!

  • For FUSBC's high ranking on the list of Colombian universities!
  • For the chance to travel to Buenos Aires, see friends and colleagues (including my missionary colleague Seth Tarrer, above), and preside over a SBL session entirely in Spanish and Portuguese. 
  • For a new home! This past weekend we moved from our apartment in the seminary to a house that became vacant when a family of missionary colleagues returned to the US. We are very excited for the additional space this home represents and feel very grateful indeed.
  • For the beginning of a new semester and the chance to work with a big group of students that I very much enjoy. 

Please Pray

  • For diligence, efficiency, and productivity this month as I draft a new essay (on evolution and Christian theology) and work on our grant application. May God give me wisdom, prudence, and clarity of mind so that I can work well and quickly. 
  • For a new crop of supporters, or a new supporting church, to counterbalance the recent conclusion of a commitment by a foundation that has hitherto been providing 15% of our annual support. 
  • For creativity and energy as I refine my classes and improve upon my pedagogy. 

Student Profile

Wilcar Martinez is my research assistant and one of my previous students who distinguished himself in class last year. Some of you may recall that we have been asking for prayer for his daughter, Ester, who was born with serious physical complications and now, at the age of 18 months, has spent half of her life in hospital. She is, we are delighted to say, home now, and greatly improved.

Wilcar and his wife, Marjorie, are Venezuelan and have lived in Medellin for five years. Before coming to Colombia, Wilcar was an industrial engineer, with an MBA, and Marjorie was a nurse. But they moved to FUSBC in obedience to a call to ministry that they received when they were much younger. Wilcar writes:

In spite of professional success and the promise of future stability, the moment arrived when we realized that our true passion was for missions and the Kingdom of God. For that reason, we decided to leave everything, and even though we didn't know exactly what God wanted for us (nor what this would cost us), we came here to Colombia. After a year of doubts, battles, losses, and finally redemption, God opened the doors for us to study at the seminary. (Marjorie completed a shorter course of study and I am finishing up my degree in Biblical Studies.)

In this country, God has blessed us with a beautiful little girl who was born 18 months ago. Ester has been a miracle and a testimony of God's love, insofar as she was born with very complex health problems which have entailed many surgeries and long hospitalizations. Nonetheless, she has been a means by which God has reminded us of his love and faithfulness. 

Our dream is to be able to support the Church, mobilizing people to missions, towards healthy growth, and towards formation in discipleship. For this reason, we are already involved in teaching and in missions work. Upon completing my studies, in spite of the fact that there is some uncertainty in our future, we hope to be able work full time, ministering more deeply in these areas, because we have learned that God is faithful and sovereign, even over the uncertainties in life.
Copyright © 2015 Christopher and Michelle Hays, United World Mission, All rights reserved.

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