By Stacey Ayars, EBS Communications Director
I’ve got goosebumps. This is good.
On Wednesday during the Academic Convocation, I was walking around the front of the chapel, trying to get a better angle. As I came up alongside of of the class while they were praying, I took a seat for a minute and prayed with them.
As I sat at the end I looked down the row of feet. Everyone looked so nice, but all those shoes told the stories… how much they walk, how bad the roads are, how many times they had been repaired. They haven’t been worshiping on carpet, not out visiting people by car, not evangelizing in clean and pretty places.
I sank down next to Maurice to take this picture, and clear as day Isaiah 52:7 whispered to me
how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation
who say, “Our God reigns.”
I sat by their feet as Guenson prayed, and I felt so honored.
Because they want to go, because they proclaim salvation, because they have beautiful feet.
Fast-forward to Thursday night. I was up at 4 feeding Nora (oh yes, she is one of those dear ones who still wakes up to eat 3-4 times every night.) As I rocked her by the foot of our bed, Matt was tossing and turning, muttering “NO NO NO” and obviously greatly agitated mid-sleep.
Matt has a lot of nightmares, I joke because his brain processes 50 times more than mine during the day, and it needs dreams all night to catch up with him. When his nightmares wake me up, I always wake him up, so when I came back to bed I shook him awake, waited until he calmed, and then fell fast asleep.
Around 5 I realized he was no longer in bed, and when I got up at 6 I found him wide awake in his chair in the living room, aglow. Our days start quick and full, so it wasn’t until later in the afternoon when he came home to change that we got to catch up.
We aren’t big dream / meaning / interpretation people, though many of our friends in Haiti share dreams and visions as part of their powerful testimonies, so when he said, “I’ve GOT to tell you about my dream this morning, because I truly believe God is using it!” I was kind of surprised.
In his dream, the Seminary was in a different place, a huge beautiful warehouse. He was walking around the warehouse, talking to students and seeing everything was going well, and then headed to his office, which was a big room right in the middle of the warehouse.
But when he flung open the door, he was surprised to find his office filled to the brim, from floor to ceiling, with stacks and stacks of shoe boxes.
“Stace, there were SO many shoeboxes in there that I couldn’t even open the door, I couldn’t even get to my desk. And I was all frustrated! Where did all these shoeboxes come from? And who in the world put them all in my office? And what was I going to do with them now? No, no, NO!”
It was then that I had woken him up.
Even coming out of the dream, he was frustrated by all the hundreds of shoes crowding his office, but he said that as he laid there, calming down and confused, the Lord pressed in an entirely unexpected and un-Matt interpretation upon the dream.
They are ready to go. They just need someone to lead them.
Matt got up and headed for his chair, praying about all this.
We have a LOT of students who are frustrated in their churches, but are not in lead positions to change what they are frustrated about. They are frustrated that the church is not going, not sharing the Gospel outside of her walls. They are frustrated that the visions of most of their churches are pointed inward. They are frustrated by corruption in the church, frustrated by control-focused leaders who won’t let them institute changes as their studies in the Word bring out necessary transformations. They are frustrated by the number of churches in many of their towns, all but piled on top of each other, all the while huge areas of Haiti continue to not have EVER heard the Gospel.
They share their frustrations with each other and with our staff daily…and yet…they are unsure what to do but to keep doing what has always been done, to keep following leaders who often don’t meet Biblical standards of Christ-like living, to keep assisting in churches who often don’t meet standards of His Bride. As we meet with students, they share their passions and callings to GO, to BE the church, to DO what the church isn’t doing, but when we ask, then, what they will do, they shrug and say, “help in my church, I guess.”
Often they feel stuck because it is someone in their church, or their pastor, helping pay for their education, or they feel stuck because people will be upset if they push change too hard, or they are ready to go, and they just aren’t sure HOW. Where. What.
We talk to Junior, who is very ready to go and do and help any student do anything, and well, and yet who struggles greatly with arranging for the details, reporting on progress, troubleshooting.
We at Emmaus have A LOT OF BEAUTIFUL FEET who are ready to be shoe’d up and sent out…but they need more HELP breaking free and making a plan and GOING.
The shoes, it seems, are piled up in Matt’s office, waiting.
What a dream, what a vision, what a job.
And Matt, once certain of the Holy Spirit, is no delayer.
He met with Junior and Walnique (the lead student-now-alumni on the Fev church plant) that very same day, worked through some better and more practical reporting and planning for Fev-as-a-model, and a plan is in place starting next week.
He spent hours in prayer, and this is the feet/shoe/dream plan.
We currently have 50 students in our work-study program, which basically means that students who live and eat on campus can work for two hours a day in exchange for free rent and food. 98% of our residential students are in the work-study program, saving $100 USD/semester that most just don’t have, though we only really have a need for about 20 students to help with dishes and cleaning classrooms and yard care.
So, starting next week, on Monday, when 2-4 pm roles around, Junior is grabbing two students from the work-study program and heading out the gate. He and Matt put together a list of 7 start-up places that God has laid on their hearts where they KNOW there are no churches, that are close-ish to the Seminary, that are rather rough zones.
Junior will take them out, they will go door-to-door in the first zone, find a few people of peace who are willing to let them share the Gospel in their yard, and invite more people. Haitian families have a LOT less distractions than most American families, and usually yards fill up simply out of curiosity and boredom.
Day after day, Junior and the same two students will go, from 2-4, and share the Gospel, starting at the very beginning (like the Saturday Bible Study right outside our gate I just wrote about) and advancing little by little.
As soon as those two students are comfortable continuing, Junior will select two new students out of the work study program, and that day, the first two will go to zone 1, and Junior and the next two will go to new zone 2…and do the same thing starting at the beginning of the Word, “Who is this God and where did all of this, and me, come from?”
As the weeks progress, little churches will progress in yards in these zones….just groups of men and women and kiddos coming each day to a neighbors house to meet with two young men or women from Emmaus, to hear more, to learn more, to hear the Gospel and to be discipled.
And in a few months, there is potential for lots of students, two-by-two, to be heading out each day to their zone, to teach and disciple and GO on their beautiful feet, proclaiming salvation.
It is SO simple. We have so many who are ready to go, and equipped to share the full Gospel. And we have 2 hours set apart every day in everyone’s schedule…what better work-study is THAT work-study?
Be praying with me…
Yesterday we celebrated our 2015–2016 Academic Convocation for our first year students.