Gifts

Gifts

By Stacey Ayars

So thankful for the men and women who add to and sacrifice from busy lives and ministries to pour out their gifts at Emmaus! Miss Pam is still with us persevering through the works of Paul, Dr. Jeff Mansell, executive director of Seven Baskets Ministries and teaching for Indiana Wesleyan University completed his course on the Evangelistic Mandate of the Church, and Pastor Adam Godbold of Georgia took our students though the first half of the Doctrine of Holiness course. With seven littles under eleven and a church at home, he headed back yesterday, and Pastor Marshall Daigre will pick up where he left off for the second week!

Hearing these visiting men and women preach in chapel just moves me more than anything…it is worship, fresh and good teaching, in my heart language, something that is hard to find in Haiti unless you’re at Emmaus during VP season.  What a gift to hear the Gospel in many languages, many times throughout each week.

I was particularly and unexpectedly moved yesterday in chapel before Jeff got to the pulpit. It was time for the pastoral prayer on English chapel day, and Jean-William led us in his earnest and plain-spoken English. Little by little we prayed through His world, through His hands…students and staff and visitors and Haiti and then on…on to war torn and persecuted countries, one after another, on to hurting people in hurting places, on to the men and women living and giving the Gospel in those places…all in Jean-Williams fourth language, beautifully child-like faith.
What a gift to bow together…to break together…to remember together, to beg of Him, to come to Him, to honor Him, to ask of Him, to glorify Him.  It was sweetness I haven’t experienced in my prayer life for many days…so thankful.

I’m also so touched by how Jean-William’s heart and scope has GROWN since studying and pursing ministry in Italy, since praying to share the Gospel outside of our world…as he has changed, he leads our student body in thinking and praying outside of ourselves.  What a gift serving is, how it grows us.
Loving What He Does

Loving What He Does

I know we just came off of a nice break, and Christmas, and New Years, and that’s all supposed to be the highlights.  And there are some sweet memories (and a lot of sick ones.)
But today? Today was where it’s all at…today I left the finance pile on my desk and left a homeschool pile with Lauren (the daughter of two of our visiting professors whom the girls have deemed a far more fun teacher than mom), left a happy Nora with her beloved Gertha and did the most basic, fundamental, first thing we do at Emmaus after prayer: I just went to class.
And it was so good.  I wish I could have taken you.  And I’m so THANKFUL that over 100 men and women from all across Haiti, most of for whom such education and equipping seemed IMPOSSIBLE, today, were there too.
It was beautiful to hear Dr. Jerry Caskey, a man who is just never going to be content with how things are in the world, whose whole heart is so obviously dripping for Jesus that it pours out his eyes more than once or twice a lecture.  He’s teaching Synoptic Gospels to our first year class, and today they were going through different kind of miracles and what they SAY, what they meant, what they mean. I could have stayed all ten days, it was so interesting, and relevant, and fresh.
And it was beautiful to see Simeon translating the material and language and ideas as passionately as Jerry is.  I was proud and I was thankful, because what good is bringing Jerry’s heart and mind and experience all the way here if nobody understands it?  That’s a big calling our staff who translate take seriously.
What’s more beautiful that this?  What’s Haiti need more than this?  What do I need more than this? An earnest, thorough, digging and receiving of the Word.
And then there is Ms. Pam, who has been spending at least a month a year of her life at Emmaus since before Matt and I came in 2007.  She wouldn’t tell you so, but she’s quite brilliant, and the students have finally stopped trying to stump this female who carries the reputation from year to year as one who can run rings of theology around anyone in this love-to-debate culture.
This just encourages more good conversations in this Systematic Theology 2 class, and I loved watching her translator, Blaise, dig into his own Bible countless times when students couldn’t quite get deep enough, searching it out for himself, Pam, searching it out along with them.

I love this second year class…they’ve never found a thing they can’t make fun, and I just relished this more the joy and community they have with each other.  After being spread all over the last month, these brothers and sisters are obviously happy to be working together again.
Talk about brains.  I didn’t even try to figure out what these three were talking about, but with Fanfan stepping into the Academic Dean position, and Dr. Joyce Thornton mentoring him through (while also running all of our masters programs and frequently teaching), I’m just THANKFUL for the highly intelligent, faithful and detailed man Fanfan is and the brilliant, no-nonsense, get-it-done woman Joyce is (as long as she has an unending supply of coke and coffee 🙂 to come alongside Matt and HELP.  Like, really really help.
Another God moment this morning finally coming out of my first trimester survival stretch was chatting with AnneYolie and Phida.  Phida you know we know and love and send and there’s just nobody better at compassion and Gospel-sharing here in Haiti.  But AnneYolie’s just been with us since September, and she is a humble and uber-capable woman we have prayed earnestly and deliberately for for y-e-a-r-s.  She’s a major team player, anxious to learn and it is so good to have a great receptionist, the center lady of it all, after all this time without (or, for a few months, worse than without!)
And I KNEW when I passed through the cafeteria that Edlin would be faithfully making his billionth gallon of juice, that Granny and Paulcine would be shredding their thousandth head of cabbage.  And I knew they’d be chatting and laughing, because they always are…what a testimony.  What a testimony of support ministry, of servant ministry, of faithful followers of Christ.
I ended up in the library, always doubling as our only large classroom, which is necessary when what you see here is third year.  What a joy it was for me to sit back and watch Larry and Verna (and really Leme, too) co-teach the music and theory class.  Incredibly talented and culturally sensitive (Larry grew up in Haiti and just glows when he’s “home”) they have the joy of teaching an across-the-board major love of the Haitian Christian…MUSIC.
There was lots of singing, lots of practicing, lots of conducting and testing and examples and nodding as techniques our pastors, worship leaders, and singers have been using for YEARS finally make sense, have a name, have a reason.
Verna plays the opening chords for English hymns she knows that apply various theories, Larry belts out the name of the hymn in Creole, someone yells out the hymn number (not that it matters, because nobody has a need for their battered hymn books) and in a matter of seconds, the room is full of boisterous melody, strong and harmonious as most of the students clap or conduct in their seats, and Verna is laughing again with Leme, who may have lost his voice by the end of this week.
I really could have just sat in that worship all day if I hadn’t already spent so much time in the other classes – there is no such thing as a half-hearted singer in Haiti, nor should there be when we worship in ANY country.  It’s never forced but always ready, not about individual talent, but about a very deserving God, and somehow Haiti has wrapped it’s roots around the idea that worship is the same as prayer, prayer the same as worship.

It makes for a holy class, as holy as the other’s digging deep in their Bibles.
What a morning, one I am so thankful and grateful to have experienced and to be some small part of.
As are you, as are you.  Wish you were here.
I’m off to the 1-6 pm combined masters class, with our MACL (Masters in the Arts of Christian Leadership) and our MED (Masters in Education) students come together for Dr. Joyce Thornton’s Fundamentals of Teaching class…better equipping over 40 principals, school directors, teachers and and school administrators from elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities throughout Northern Haiti…what a need, what a gift.
Fall 2017 Is Here!

Fall 2017 Is Here!

Busy as ever this fall!

We have:

  • Dr. Steve Tsoukalas teaching Philosophy for Understanding Thelogy
  • Dr. Don Little teaching Islam and Christian Faith
  • Dr. Charles Lake teaching Evangelism and Discipleship
  • Brother Simeon Desauguste teaching Computer 101!

Please be praying for us as we prepare for Hurricane Irma.

They Are Here

They Are Here

One of my favorite days of the year was yesterday and today…the days all the students come home!  As much as God’s at work through us and Emmaus sending people OUT…I love when they come in, too.

Everyone is so grateful to be back together, most of whom were in full-time ministry all summer, and most of them, with very little support or help or family.  To be together again with their mentors and brothers and sisters and prayer partners and accountability partners and friends is a joy obvious to anyone.  As with every August, most are a little worse for the wear, this battle we’re all a part of not easy.  Everyone’s a belt notch smaller (and most were on the smallest notch to start with) and everyone’s got stories of struggles and triumphs from the past 2 months.  

What really encouraged me, today, was to sit in the back and see 7-8 young men and women stuffed happily into each pew, HERE, voluntarily, asking for help and training in sharing and being and knowing and living the Gospel.  I mean, that’s a miracle, isn’t it?
Isn’t that deeply encouraging?  Today, there are 100 young men and women in HAITI, a place many feel to be hopeless, in a world many feel to be hopeless, gathered together from the ends of the country asking to be trained in and sent out in the Gospel.  Asking to live, asking to die, the Gospel.
His HOPE is in that.  His HAND is in that.  For the thousand without-hope young men and women we drive past just to get to the airport, for the millions of young men and women without-hope around the world, there are those who know Him and who carry Him brightly, strongly convicted that their lives and futures are not their own, and who are coming in to grow, and going out to share, and no one is making them.  No one is asking them.  No one is forcing them.
God’s called them.  For those without hope.
And they. are. here.
Right in front of me.
That excited me today.
I hope it blesses and encourages you, too.
There are some special things scheduled for this afternoon…can’t wait to see Him at work, and to share it with you!
Fall 2017

Fall 2017

Today we kicked off the first day of school activities of the year with orientation and retreat. It was a tremendously fun homecoming for our students, and we have an excellent incoming class!

Testimony Tuesday: God’s Ability

Testimony Tuesday: God’s Ability

By Stacey Ayars

I do the finances ’cause somebody’s gotta do it.  I teach English because it helps me build great relationships with the students.  But learning and sharing people’s stories is just my very very favorite.

As I was reading the to the girls tonight about the Israelites, right before Joshua died, our hearts beat faster with the Israelite people as Joshua reminded them about God and Abraham.  About God and Isaac.  About God and Jacob…and Joseph…and Moses…and.

When the people REMEMBERED the stories, remembered THEIR stories, they were impassioned for God and committed to His commands and inspired for His service.

It was when they forgot, when they spent more time with secular encouragement than inspired encouragement, when they stopped reminding each other of who God was and what God had done, when they wanted what everybody else had more than they wanted the One True God that they fell away.  That they disobeyed.  That they suffered.

Joshua reminded me how important it is to tell and re-tell and pass down our stories.  From Adam on.

Here’s Wisly’s.

I was born into a very poor family, but they sent us to school as best they could.  I had two sisters and one brother, and I’m the first born.  My family wasn’t a Christian family…we were raised in the Haitian Catholic church and practiced Voodoo, though we weren’t very involved with either.  But the family that lived right next door to us was a pastor and his wife and their kids.  They were always kind to us and reached out to us kids, and over time, we all came to really love and respect Pastor Clide and his family.

When my little sister was 11, she asked them to please teach her how to follow their Master, and she became a Christian.  Not long after her, I asked them the same thing, and she and I grew under their leadership, friendship and at their church.  I was nervous about giving Jesus my life because I always felt like there were still things I didn’t understand.  But Pastor Clide assured me that even though I didn’t understand everything, I could give Jesus my all, and little by little He would teach me. 

Not long after I started following Jesus, my mother came to the Lord.  Then my father.  And my parents led my other siblings to Jesus.  Because of Clide’s family’s faithful testimony in our lives, today my whole immediate family is following Jesus!

After I converted, I was always following Pastor Clide, always asking him questions and wanting to be like him.  When I grew up, I wanted to be like him and study like he did, in theology.  When I was in high school, I was firmly set on that…and I really grew in my desire to go into theology. 

But there was a problem.  I had thought through my family’s financial situation. And the difficulty in finding work. And the costs of university.  I came to a point of complete despair.  No matter how much I wanted to study God’s Word, and live it and give it like Pastor Clide does, there was simply no way it would ever be possible.  We had nothing.  I was nothing. I knew no one who could help me! I was so depressed.

I was speaking to Pastor Clide about that one day, and he said, “Listen.  If you’re desiring to follow God, and you believe God has a call of ministry on your life, then you are looking the wrong places.  You are trying to see what your parents can do for you, what your church can do for you, what you can do for you.  Instead, look to God.  He provides for His calling, He alone is almighty, by His power and by His strength we are to find our hope!  This isn’t about our ability, but about HIS.  Do you trust Him?”

This new perspective encouraged me greatly.

Pastor Clide went to Emmaus Biblical Seminary, and I wanted to be grounded in the Gospel like he was.  So I got together my papers and all my trust and the tiny bit of money I had and I went to Emmaus Biblical Seminary.  And with a happy heart I can tell you that I have now completed one semester at Emmaus, and little by little, payment by payment, God has provided for me!

I was also afraid that maybe I wouldn’t have the mental capacity to study here, because classes are taught just entirely differently than the norm.  But again, I remembered what Pastor Clide said, and realized that this wasn’t about my ability to learn and grow and succeed.  This was about God’s ability to help me, to form me. 

My favorite class so far was the Christianity and Voodoo class.  I did one day at a time, and God helped me so much to grow and to understand and to be surprised by such new perspectives on things I simply always thought.   I didn’t have to worry about my capacity, but relied on His ability.

I also loved the preaching class!  I teach Sunday school at my church, and help lead the service, and preach every few weeks…the things I learned in that class about how to pray through and develop and deliver a sermon have already been SO helpful in the ministry I’m already doing!

Pray for me, that God would give me the strength to do His work, give me the energy, give me the ability.  I know that because of Him, I can do and be whatever He wants me to do and be!