Recruiting across the US, 1,700 books donated to the seminary library, and a chance to preach back at our home church in California.

Dear Friends and Family,

When I get back to Medellin in a couple of days, I'm going to have to bite my tongue when people ask me how my 'vacation' went. While we have spent this month in the US, it certainly has not felt like a vacation, at least insofar as vacations are supposed to be times of rest and recuperation!

After Thanksgiving, I left Michelle and the kids with our parents and spent two weeks rattling around the country. This trip had the purpose of recruiting future missionary professors for our seminary and for other schools in the Global South. My itinerary took me to Fuller Theological Seminary, where I gave a handful of lectures and met dozens of wonderful and inspiring students. Then I flew off to Durham, NC, where I met numerous exceptional doctoral students and faculty members at Duke Divinity School. I drove up the eastern sea board, visiting marvelous friends and supporters along the way, and then spent a couple fantastic days lecturing at the Trinity Forum Academy, on the Chesapeake Bay. Then it was back into the air and off to Chicagonland, where I got to talk to students and catch up with old friends in Wheaton, before zipping to California again. 

Upon my return to North California, I ironed a shirt and then traded the lectern for a pulpit at our US church home, Valley Church. They gave me the chance to preach my first Advent sermon (which you can watch here, along with an interview about our past year of mission work in Colombia). The rest of that week included a handful of talks to church groups, and mixed in with some frantic attempts to brainstorm about the new class I am developing for January.  

Christmas at home with family (both nuclear and extended) was lovely, notwithstanding the month's hectic schedule, and then on the 2nd of January we'll be back on a plane, completing my 10th flight of this trip and setting us back down in Colombia where course design and writing deadlines loom. Is it bad that I'm already asking myself when Easter vacation will be? 

Peace be with you all,

Christopher, Michelle, Judah, Asher, and Zoe Hays

From Michelle

While Chris' December was very busy and hectic, my December could be described with the following words: peace, quiet, family, friends, nature, beauty, and rest. In addition to having to opportunity to visit our family in California and Illinois, I reconnected with some dear friends who greatly encouraged me. The kids and I have spent many hours playing outdoors, soaking up the sunshine and the peaceful atmosphere of the scenic California countryside. Just before Christmas, Chris and I had the chance to get away for a couple of days on our own (no kids!) to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. We stayed in the mountains and enjoyed hikes in the forest, wine tastings, and uninterrupted conversations. We reflected on the fact that God has sustained us during our 12 years together, even as He has taken us on some unexpected paths. Along the way, we have made homes in five different countries and welcomed three children. What a journey it has been! We are also especially thankful to Chris' parents (who made our get-away possible by caring for our kids) and to my mom, because without their help we never would have been able to rest and recharge so fully during this month in the US. 

Zoe has lots to say!

When we left Colombia at the end of November, Zoe was only using a handful of words. It was been a delight this month to see her language develop rapidly (presumably because her brain is just hearing English these days). My favorite things to her is refrain of "Oh, thank you, Mama!" which she uses all day to express her gratitude even for the smallest things.

Student Profile

This month I'm profiling Argiro Cano, who is from a small town in our state called San Antonio de Prado. Argiro is married with two teenage kids, and serves as a pastor in Medellín at the church Ministerio Verdad y Vida. Like a great many of our students, Argiro became a pastor long before going to seminary to study for the ministry, and he has turned to the seminary out of a recognition of the great value that higher education contributes to the life of the local church. Because of his awareness of the unique opportunity it is to study in the seminary, Argiro takes his work extremely seriously, with the result that this semester he won the award for the student whose work improved the most over the course of my Acts class. He is humble and gracious and incredibly dedicated to his work and ministry, which makes him precisely the sort of student the seminary strives to serve.

Praise God!

  • For the arrival of 1700 new books to the seminary this month, generously donated from three Oxford colleges and a wonderful priest in London; it took several months for this donation to make its way across the ocean, but it represents the largest single donation of books the seminary library has ever received!
  • For the dozens of students and faculty around the US with whom I got to share about United World Mission and the Theological Education Initiative.
  • For lovely time with family and friends all over the country. Especially for the chance to reconnect with our sending team from Valley Church, as they were a massive encouragement to us. 
  • For a couple of supporters who increased their monthly donations to help us progress towards our funding target. 

Please Pray

  • That God would nurture the seeds planted in this month's recruiting efforts, and eventually bring a great influx of missionary scholars to UWM (and to FUSBC)!
  • For a shipment of books from the Theological Book Network. I've been working with this organization, based in Grand Rapids, for the past several months, to get this collection of several hundred books together, and it should be dispatched from the US this month.
  • For the boys as they begin a new academic year; Judah starts fifth grade in a new school in January and Michelle and Asher (now second grade) undertake homeschooling for the first time. 
  • For the continued progress of our fund-raising work, since we have never reached our target budget. (For us to stay on the field long-term, we need to continue to advance in our support-raising. So...onward!)

A new kind of school

I would love special prayers for Asher and for me as we begin homeschooling at the end of January. Please pray for creativity, patience, flexibility, and the ability to juggle Zoe's needs and regular life tasks while I work with Asher during the day.     

Judah fords rivers!

We spent two days after Christmas taking the kids on a camping trip (see photo above "Praise God" section). The highlight for Judah was an epic day of hiking with his dad; they forged three icy rivers, climbed to a lookout spot on the mountain, and explored hours and hours of trails through the redwood forest.
Copyright © 2014 Christopher and Michelle Hays, United World Mission, All rights reserved.
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