Receiving a library grant from Oxford, hosting a visiting scholar from Germany, and beginning a new semester at FUSBC.

Dear Friends and Family,

February always ends before I am ready, so I have to scramble to finish my monthly updates on time!

The new academic year roared to life this month, and I have returned to teaching "Introduction to the New Testament", a course which I enjoy tremendously (in spite of the fact that it means I have to break in a new herd of undergraduates). On the research side, my team and I have been receiving the transcriptions of the recordings we made during our field research on forced displacement, and so we are working feverishly to analyze our data and prepare for the intensive collaboration session next week, when all our international team members will convene on Medellín to work together on how to mobilize the Colombian Church in response to forced displacement.

One piece of happy news is that I have just received a small grant from the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at the University of Oxford. The grant is for the purpose of bolstering our library's collection of resources on science and religion, which will come in very handy this time next year as I teach my class on faith and science again! It is a great benefit to the seminary to have new, external funding to continue to expand our library holdings with new volumes. I am distinctly grateful for the IRC for honoring the seminary with this grant. 

Right now my head is awash with languages, since we at FUSBC are hosting Prof. Dr. Erik Eynikel from the Universität Regensburg. Prof. Dr. Eynikel is a world leader in Septuagint studies (the Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament and the basis of the Old Testament which most Christians used for the first 500 years of Church history), and he is giving various lectures at FUSBC and the local Catholic university. As we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this year, it is exciting to have a Catholic scholar at our institution, helping deepen our understanding of the Scriptures and reminding us of the common ground that exists between the Christian traditions. Since I am Erik's translator while he is here, I'm enjoying the chance to refresh my memory on Septuagint studies and to brush off a bit of my German and Hebrew as well!

Peace be with you all,

Christopher, Michelle, Judah, Asher, and Zoe Hays

From Michelle

This month I have spent a lot of hours going to and fro picking up children from school. The bus system in my neighborhood to me feels chaotic, following only a very vague sense of order. There are not specific bus stops in our neighborhood but you can flag down any bus you see. As far as I can tell, the buses come fairly frequently, but I have never seen an actual schedule posted anywhere. My internal monologue as I ride the bus goes usually something like this: “Ok, so there are no seats or room to stand inside the bus today, but I can hang onto the bar outside the turnstile on lowest step. Wait, I only have one foot on and the driver is already taking off! Yikes, we are careening down this steep hill! More people are getting on? How will that even be possible?” A man with a guitar squeezes past me ("Excuse me, miss, could you just hold my guitar– until I get through the turnstile – thank you very much!") He serenades us all with a tragic love song over the top of the song already blaring on the radio and then collects a handful of coins as we ping-pong down, down, down the narrow mountainous streets, just missing motorcycles and stopping intermittently to let on more people and rearrange ourselves into an even tighter configuration. I find myself inside the turnstile now,  plastered against the body of an elderly nun. She smiles. I try to return the smile. A woman from the back calls out because the button is broken. She manages to push through the sardine-packed mass to the door with her small daughter in tow. I look on in admiration. How did she do that? We arrive at the last stop on the route and all of us remaining passengers spill out into the plaza. I briskly walk the last two blocks to Zoe´s school thinking about how great it is to move my body freely again, to have a bit of personal space, and to feel the breeze. Another day, another 75 cents well spent, and one more everyday life skill under my belt in a new culture.

Student Profile

This month our profile comes from Juan David Correa, a new student to me who has joined my New Testament Introduction class and my Advanced Greek reading group. In addition to learning Greek, he is also working on English, and so he wanted to try his hand at writing his own profile in English (which I reproduce here, with minimal editing).

My name is Juan David Correa. I'm from Armenia, Quindío in Colombia. My parents are both pastors in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and I've attended church in that denomination since I was a baby. When I was 19 God called me to the ministry while I was listening to a sermon about the Protestant Reformation. I finished my university studies in Business Administration when I was 23 and the same year I got married with Stefanía Porras, a 20-year old lady that loved to help me in the ministry. When my wife was finishing her professional degree, she got pregnant. In March 21st of 2015 our first baby was born, and 3 months later we came to the seminary.

Right now we are helping with the preaching and the music in one of the churches of our denomination here in Medellin and also I work with the youth leaders of the presbytery (six churches) training them in doctrine, Christian character, and ministry. My wife is studying some subjects at the seminary and her idea is to do the whole degree. With the Dr. Hays I'm studying Introduction to the New Testament and Advanced Greek. These classes have helped me to understand the Bible better and to firm up my faith. When we finish theological studies we hope to continue serving the Lord in our denomination, wherever He wants.

Praise God!

  • For the library grant we received from the Ian Ramsey Centre for Religion and Science at the University of Oxford.
  • For the students of Christopher's class who came to our house for desserts this month and shared their testimonies with us.
  • For a supporter who generously decided to pay for one of our children's tuition and fees for the entire academic year! This is a huge financial relief to us. We are also grateful for another supporter who has helped us move towards our monthly budget goals.
  • For the chance to begin to invest in a bright new generation of students at FUSBC.

Please Pray

  • For the intensive collaboration session of the FUSBC project on forced displacement in Colombia, which will take place from March 10-13th. This is a very important event for our research project, but one that is also very draining for me personally. Please ask for my energy, optimism, and leadership, and for the time in teams to be productive and encouraging. 
  • On March 28-29th I will travel to Bogotá to give a presentation on science and theology for the Philosophy, Science, and Religion Network in Bogotá. Please pray for safe travels and fruitful interactions with the friends and colleagues I have been getting to know in Bogotá over the last year. 
  • For us to reach the monthly financial commitments we need to meet our budget targets for this year. We are so grateful for the people who have stepped in with one-time gifts to cover our pressing costs, but we want to keep praying that God would bring our monthly support up to 100%. We are almost there!

Preparing for Prof. Dr. Erik Eynikel's Public Lecture

Interviewing a community worker, Leonardo Rondón

We interviewed dozens of community leaders who work with IDPs, in order to learn from their years of accumulated wisdom serving the IDP population. In fact they are our coresearchers, contributing their own studies to our project and (in the future) helping design our programs to help IDPs. As I review transcripts of these interviews, I'm so tremendously grateful to draw on their experience and insights, which will surely be tremendously beneficial to the long-term impact of this project.
Copyright © 2017 Christopher and Michelle Hays, United World Mission, All rights reserved.
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