A thrilling trip to Peru and Argentina, and some good financial news as well!
Hays Missions Update
Preparing to Provide Transformational Theological Education to Latin American Pastors and Theologians

United World Mission

Dear Friends and Family,

I spent the winter mourning the fact that we were leaving Oxford. I'm over that now. Now I'm ready to go.

This month I spent two weeks in South America, and they galvanized my sense of the ridiculous urgency of the work to which we're called. My first week was in Peru, at the Seminario Evangélico de Lima. I was teaching an intensive MA course on Luke and Acts, and the time there threw into broad relief the incredible opportunities and needs of the Church there. My students (mostly aged 35-55) were almost all pastors, many of whom were leaders of Lima's largest churches. A number of them were professors at other seminaries around the country (you heard that right: they are already seminary professors, and they are only working on their first master's degree). Some of my students had to take a 17 hour bus-ride from the south of Peru to make it to my class. But they are there, eager to learn, and willing to do the hard work. If you ask any of them what is the biggest need of the Church in Latin America, none of them will hesitate before they say something like: "creating theologians", "training pastors", "teaching the Church to think". They recognize that the biggest challenge the Church in Latin America faces is not money, not lack of pastors or evangelists or NGOs: it's a lack of seminary professors.

After the heartening time in Peru I flew to Buenos Aires and spent a week with our future mission partners, Seth and Mary Tarrer (and their four kids), who are already in Argentina doing language training. Seth and I visited our future colleagues at ISEDET, making plans for our joining the faculty in 2014. We also spent time meeting with pastors, former ISEDET students, and church leaders around Buenos Aires, sharing what we'll be doing. The response and enthusiasm was tremendous; there is great excitement that there will be a new influx of evangelical professors at ISEDET, precisely because of the flabbergasting continent-wide need there is for enthusiastic and well-trained theologians. (In fact, one of the challenges that Seth is encountering is that the other seminaries and Bible institutes in Buenos Aires are already trying to poach him!).

When I went to Buenos Aires, I was praying that God would use the trip to confirm my sense of calling to that city. That he did in spades. I felt clearly that I could raise my family there, that the schools there would be places where my kids could thrive, that the churches there would be places where my family could grow. Most of all, I felt that there was a ton of work to be done, but that it is precisely the sort of work for which God has been equipping me for the past decade. And by way of external confirmation, the very night I arrived in Buenos Aires I received word that I have been awarded a wonderful scholarship from Wheaton College, which will wipe out $16,000 of my student debt (all that remains from Wheaton). Alongside another generous donation we received this month, we are only $5,000 away from being totally debt free!

Thank you all for your prayers on our behalf while I was in South America this month. I returned feeling energized, impassioned, and confident that God will indeed bring us to Argentina with speed!

Peace be with you all,

Christopher, Michelle, Judah, Asher, and Zoe Hays

From Michelle

Thanks to all of you who were praying for me during the two weeks that Chris was in South America this April. I am very thankful to have my husband home again and to not be 'flying solo' any more! The work around here seemed pretty full-on while he was gone, but Judah and Asher did a wonderful job taking a bit more responsibility and giving me help with Zoe. We traipsed around Oxford during those two weeks (always laden with bags and scooters and a baby in a wrap) to Spanish lessons, football matches, birthday parties and other outings/errands (see photo above of Judah the tiger and Asher the Ninja Turtle after their school fete). When Chris returned home, we were eager to hear all about Argentina and to see pictures of the city that will be our new home come November.
Because I know that we will be leaving Oxford in only four months, I have been thinking back over our time here and I find myself overwhelmed with God's goodness to us. When we arrived in Oxford, I was so weary of the many moves we had made and I longed for our children to be able to experience some stability. I am thankful to have been able to live in same house for all of our time in Oxford, one that feels like 'home' to our children and has allowed us to be within walking distance of their school and Chris' job. I had hoped for our years here in Oxford to give me time to grow as a mom and to grow in my own relationship with God so that I would feel more ready to be a part of this work in Argentina. And on the whole it has been just that - a time of restoration, stability and growth. It seems easier to follow God's leading to Argentina as I remember how He has provided for each of our needs all along the way so far.      

Praise God

  • We passed a major mile-stone! This month we found that we had finally raised pledges for over 60% of our annual budget, which means that we were able to sign up for the cross-cultural training course we have to do prior to deployment.  We'll be able to attend the training this September-October, meaning that we'll be right on track for deploying at the end of November, as planned!
  • For the award of the Bennett Scholarship for Missionary Service, and yet another donation towards the retirement of our student loans. Thanks to the scholarship, the matching grant we received last year, and a great many of individual donors who have responded to the grant, we are only $5,000 of new donations away from complete repayment of my student debt. Considering that three years ago we owed $85,000 in student debt, this feels nearly miraculous.
  • These two pieces of news have had the knock-on effect of giving me a great sense of confidence that God will indeed bring us the remaining 40% of funding that we need in order to deploy in the fall.
  • For a rich and successful time of teaching in Lima. With each evening's lecture my Spanish improved notably, and I came to feel comfortable and free to let loose as a teacher (and in some ways as a preacher!). The students were a tremendous blessing to me as well, encouraging me in our calling to train pastors and theologians in ISEDET. (I'm hoping that God moves of a couple of those students to come to Argentina and do a doctorate with me in the coming years!).  

Please Pray

  • For the fund-raising events upcoming this month. We will have the chance to share about our calling with a number of different people in Oxford and back in Illinois, and we are praying that God raises up, not just new supporters, but even new missionary scholars who might join us in the work of training church leaders in the global South.
  • For a final gift of $5,000 to complete the repayment of our student debt prior to our departure for the mission field.
  • For financial aid for our children. We're applying for scholarships at a couple of schools in Buenos Aires, and we are waiting to see where God will provide the funding so that our kids can be educated by Argentine school-teachers even while I educate Argentine pastors.
  • Christopher has a wonderful opportunity to give a lecture on Christian wealth ethics to a group of banking executives and British government leaders (May 15th). We are praying that this will be both a chance for his years of research to have some small impact outside of the academy and the Church, and also that we might make some new connections with people who might be interested in partnering with our work in South America.
  • Christopher will also spend 12 days in the US, presenting at a conference, preaching in Wheaton, and meeting with current (and potential) supporters. Please pray for energy, fruitful teaching, and continued progress in fund-raising.

Contact Us

cmhays@gmail.com
christopher.hays@theology.ox.ac.uk
michelle.lee.hays@gmail.com
 (Michelle)

Phone: +44(1865)435 057
Skype: christopher.hays.oxford


Copyright © 2013 Christopher and Michelle Hays, United World Mission, All rights reserved.