By now many if not all of you know that at the end of this academic year I will transition out of the role of President of Emmaus University of Haiti and into the role of President of Wesley Biblical Seminary (click here for the announcement at WBS). My heart is both saddened and excited over these changes, and I’m trusting fully in the Lord’s clear leading for the future of both institutions.
My time at Emmaus has been the most formative experience of my life to date. I arrived in Haiti in 2007, was named Provost of Emmaus in 2010, and President in 2012 (then “Rector”). During these years our family has grown from two to six and has experienced tremendous joy, sorrow, heartache, difficulty, and obstacles at every turn. Some of the highlights of our time at Emmaus in Haiti are the 2010 earthquake, seeing many staff members complete their graduate and post graduate degrees, the transition to a wonderful new campus, and being the first theological school in Haiti to earn international accreditation with the Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association. It has been an incredible journey.
As I reflect on this journey and trust in God’s leading into the future, I believe that the best days of Emmaus are still to come. My prayer is that my call to leadership of Emmaus has merely provided a firm foundation for future growth that is exponentially larger than what it is today. The best days of Emmaus are yet to come. I believe this wholeheartedly.
Transition from Emmaus to Wesley is hard, but it is also a joy. It’s hard because we’re not leaving a job, but a family. In 2007 when we departed the US for full-time service in Haiti we left family behind to obediently follow God’s call. As I see it, we’re simply doing it again. Now we’re leaving our Haitian family to go to yet another mission field in Jackson, MS.
Another hope and prayer of mine during this time of transition is strong continuity. Emmaus and Wesley have a historic partnership. I completed my graduate degree at WBS as did Dr. Lucner Pierre (VP for Advancement), Dr. Guenson Charlot (Associate Dean of the School of Theology and Ministry) and Dr. Bryan Easley (Executive Vice President and Provost)—all key leaders at Emmaus. Furthermore, Dr. Ray Easley, our cherished Dean of the Schools of Leadership and Education at Emmaus was the Academic Dean at Wesley Biblical Seminary for nearly thirty years. Dr. Ron Smith, the fifth President of WBS, served as the chairman of the Board of the One Mission Society. As many of you know, OMS was responsible for planting Emmaus in 1967. All this to say that the ties are strong between the two institutions and I believe they will continue strengthen as I transition into the role of President of WBS. My prayer is that there will be strong and courageous collaboration between the two institutions as both are geared to develop whole leaders to preach the whole Gospel to the whole world.
While it’s tempting to morn during these days of transition, I want to encourage us to celebrate. During the discernment process for this transition my single prayer was for God to make his will clear and he has faithfully answered that prayer. I am sure about the fact that this is the direction that God is calling, and if this is God will then we respond with excitement and great anticipation for the future! We celebrate in the fact that we serve a God who is faithful to make his will known and invites us to partake in his cosmic redemption plan. Let us courageously go where God is leading!
With great thanks and anticipation for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom,
Dr. Matt Ayars
President of Emmaus University of Haiti and President-Elect of Wesley Biblical Seminary