United World Mission
Dear Friends and Family,
I think I've got a case of divine whiplash right now; this month we've seen our plans change quite suddenly, and not a little painfully.
At the beginning of this month I was sitting pretty, holding in my hand an (unsigned) contract from ISEDET and filling out school applications for the boys. Then, rather out of the blue, the Anglican Bishop of Argentina basically stepped in to block my appointment to ISEDET. We were confused, appealed to the faculty of ISEDET for their assistance, and contacted Bishop Henry Scriven (director of Latin American Missions for the Church Mission Society, with which we are also affiliated). Bishop Scriven was wonderfully supportive and really went to bat for me, but in the end, the Bishop of Argentina wouldn't change his mind, and under his pressure, ISEDET withdrew my contract.
As you can imagine, this has been quite painful and deeply confusing. Neither we nor Bishop Scriven understand why the Bishop of Argentina acted in this way. But we have been wonderfully supported by many friends and by our leaders at United World Mission. And so we've picked ourselves back up, dusted off our trousers, and started anew.
Our initial strategy was to train Latin American pastors and theologians by working at ISEDET (the only Protestant seminary in Spanish-speaking Latin America with a government accredited PhD) and by helping to make that liberal seminary more amenable to evangelicals and Pentecostals. But now ISEDET is closed to us (and insofar as ISEDET also lost their PhD accreditation in April, that institution's strategic character has also been severely diminished). Still, our vision to train pastors and theologians in Latin America hasn't changed. Our strategy now is to find an evangelical seminary and help them develop graduate programs in which to train Latino theologians. So the location will shift, but not the calling or the vision.
As we reached out to top seminaries in Latin America, we received enthusiastic reactions. In particular we have been conversing with two top evangelical schools: one in Medellin, Colombia (called FUSBC
) and one in Lima, Peru (called SEL
). The rectors of both seminaries have expressed a desire for me to join their faculties and so now we are in the process of gaining approval from their Boards of Directors and discerning whether God would have us in Colombia or in Peru.
This turn of affairs has been alternately heavy and hopeful. We have been preparing to spend our next decade in Buenos Aires, and had invested a lot of time and money in paving the way for work there; we also were preceded by our friends the Tarrers, since Dr Seth Tarrer had planned on teaching with me at ISEDET. Now their family is left in a lurch as well. Nonetheless, the students and faculty members at both FUSBC and SEL are wonderful believers, and both schools have expressed a vision for my potential involvement that fits neatly with the calling we've had all along.
Throughout the month, I've been reflecting on Acts 16.6-9. In that text, Paul and Timothy had been eager to preach through the north of Asia Minor, but then God blocked them; they tried to go south-east, and God blocked them again, and finally God sent them across the sea to Macedonia, where they then planted the churches in Thessalonica, Philippi, and Corinth! We trust that, however abrupt this redirection has felt to us, it is part of God's merciful and direct guidance. And we're grateful to know that he's putting us right where he wants us.
Peace be with you all,
Christopher, Michelle, Judah, Asher, and Zoe Hays