A rough month, but with some ups to balance the downs.

Dear Friends and Family,

Well, this was a tough month, though not without its good moments. Among the disappointing pieces of news is the fact that our application to accredit our Master's program was returned to us, unevaluated. We were informed by the Ministry of Education that our undergraduate program needs an additional tier of accreditation before the Master's program can be evaluated. This caught everyone by surprise (including the Ministry of Education Consultant we contracted to help us on the application), because this new policy marks a departure from the previous practice of the Ministry. The shift in practice is the result of some scandals in major Colombian universities last year, and unfortunately, we are getting the fall-out.

Nonetheless, we are continuing undaunted with the work on the upcoming Master's program, convinced that God has called us to it. We will take advantage of the extra time to develop more curriculum for the program, to keep building the library and faculty, and to strengthen the seminary's research profile. Our new (tentative) target for launching the master's program is now January 2017, which should give us time to get the extra tier of undergraduate accreditation and resubmit our master's application.

On the upside, in the last email I had asked you all to be praying about a shipment of books from the Theological Book Network in the US, since the shipment had been held up in customs. Happily those books did arrive safely just this week! We also were praying for funds to get a new cataloging system for the seminary, and a friend of the seminary made a big donation to make that happen too. So even though it felt like a month of "one step forward, two steps back", we are glad to see these encouraging moments of progress.

Peace be with you all,

Christopher, Michelle, Judah, Asher, and Zoe Hays

From Michelle

While I have made some strides in adjusting to life in Medellín, I am occasionally amused at the things that still take me by surprise. A couple of weeks ago, we were at our Friday night dance class (in which Chris and I are coming to enjoy Colombian music and salsa!). Chris had signed us up for one-on-one lessons with an instructor. It turns out that we do indeed have the attention of one instructor, but we dance in the square area of one tile of linoleum in a room with other couples and loud music. Just on the other side of a partition in the same room, other couples are having a lesson with equivalently loud music but with a different beat (you can imagine that this adds to our challenges). The dance studio is located next to a major roundabout so there is a fair bit of traffic noise. At some point in nearly every lesson, the instructor will feel so moved by the music that he begins to belt out the words of the song (over the din of the street noise, our music and the music on the side of the partition) while he demonstrates with great feeling the steps we are to be learning. What a funny cultural experience it is!

All of the kids are still obviously in their own periods of adjustment, but I laughed at the conversation I overhead the other day between Asher (6) and Zoe (2). Our kids seem to have two competing desires: to cling tightly to their memories from our old home and at the same they desperately want to not be different from the other kids here in our new home. Here's what I overheard:
Asher: Zoe, you and I are special because we were born in England.
Zoe: No! Me not born in England! Me born in Colombia.
Asher: No, Zoe, when you were a baby you lived in England.
Zoe (very agitated): Well, you are wrong, Asher. I eat patacones (fried plaintains) and drink jugo de maracuyá (passion fruit juice) and I am just like the other kids in Colombia. 

Student Profile

Karla Contreras is 20 years old and a junior at the seminary. She was a student of Christopher's last year, and now Michelle serves as her spiritual mentor. She says, "I came to the seminary to get trained in theology so that I can teach the Bible in a responsible manner. Right now, in addition to my studies, I am working in Young Life, an organization that reaches out to youth and has a vision of present Jesus in a engaging way, as well as by means of developing sincere friendships. It's work that I'm really passionate about! Since I have been here at the seminary I have realized that my heart feels pulled towards urban missions. So, when I finish my studies, I hope to keep working with Young Life for the expansion of the Kingdom of God, in order to fulfill the calling that God has on my life."

Praise God!

  • For the safe arrival of 650 books for our library; thanks also to the Theological Book Network!
  • That the seminary received the funds for a new library cataloging system and some new shelves.
  • For a productive month of writing; I was able to punch out the first draft of a popular version of my doctoral thesis, which is a huge relief to me. (Many of you were praying for me in this regard, and I am so grateful!)

Please Pray

  • For the seminary's first steps at tackling the new tier of undergraduate accreditation, that we would have energy and use this as a chance to build even stronger structures and policies.
  • That the setback in our Master's accreditation does not entail the loss of funding, either for us personally or for the seminary.
  • For safe travels next month, as we journey to the US to celebrate my brother's wedding, and as Michelle and I go to Oxford and Bonn (leaving Zoe and the boys in the US) to visit supporters and give some lectures.
  • For a positive time lecturing in London, and sharing about the research the seminary is doing on forced internal displacement in Colombia.
  • For Christopher as he mourns the death of his grandfather. These are the sorts of events that make it especially hard to live abroad.


Asher and his sidekick, Zoe, enjoying the opportunity to do some exploring at a nature preserve outside of the city.


Judah is our resident photographer these days. While he is not always keen to be in pictures, he loves to be on the other side of the camera capturing people or the beautiful parts of life in Colombia. 
Copyright © 2015 Christopher and Michelle Hays, United World Mission, All rights reserved.

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