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Sprinting to the Finish Line (in Haiti)
March 2022

Dear Friends and Ministry Partners,

Only 4 weeks left before our departure from Haiti.

We're balancing good goodbyes to our Haitian and missionary friends, final ministry responsibilities, and packing up.  Ministry is always a mixture of relationships and hard work and these past months have been no exception.  Here's a bit of what we've been up to.
Sean has been preaching most Sundays and mostly beneath tarps because these church buildings were damaged or destroyed in the August 2021 earthquake.
World Team's earthquake funds have been designated by the new MEBSH executive committee to assist in the rebuilding of 50+ parsonages and churches.  Insecurity and fuel shortages have delayed rebuilding efforts, along with the outgoing executive committee choosing to defer to the new committee which took office just a few weeks ago.  That's just reality here, but things are moving forward.
In addition to teaching N.T. Greek at the Bible College in Cayes, Sean and Johannes Schuerer taught 30+ pastors from remote areas in our extension center in Jeremie.  It is much more cost effective to send two professors to them, than for 30 pastors to ride through the mountains to Cayes for a week.  While there, we experienced three aftershocks over 4.0 magnitude--not much sleep that night!
The central command in Christ's "Great Commission" is to make disciples and just like Jesus did it, that happens best when you're walking, talking, working, sweating, praying, studying, laughing and enjoying God's world together.

I've watched these boys grow up over the past 13 years, and a weekend hike up 2400 feet (and back down) was the "farewell" request of Lolo (red shirt). These four Haitian young men are fatherless and God has allowed me to fill in a bit of that role in their lives.  We had three Bible studies, each covering one of the three root sins: pride, greed and lust. They were eager to learn!  It was fun to have Joel come along too--an MK from our mission center.
Earlier in the month, I also spoke to 30+ young people at a youth retreat about "honorable sexuality"--honoring God, others and your own body.  One of the more outspoken youth said, "I've never heard a pastor speak so frankly about this topic and I really appreciate it!"  The Bible has a lot to say about sex since it was God's idea from the beginning.
Twice during our final six months in Haiti, our dear friend and WT colleague, Beth Newton, came to stay with us and conduct ministry.  We visited a church in the mountains where Beth and Heather attended when they were both missionaries at Hospital Lumiere at Bonne Fin back in the mid-90's. 

Pastor Merilien and his wife received us gladly--their shelter is made from the tin of the school that was destroyed in the earthquake.  Another organization is putting up provisional buildings for the school, which is directed by one of Sean's former students. The church and parsonage were also damaged beyond repair.
Prayers of consecration for the new MEBSH President, Pastor Napoleon Lusson, and his wife Mirline and rest of the new executive committee.

Each member is either a colleague at the Bible School, or a former student of Sean's.  It is very gratifying to see these men grow in ministry responsibilities and to see the trust and respect that others place in them.
Covering the investiture of the new executive committee were many Haitian journalists.  It was strongly noted that four former MEBSH presidents were present at the installation of the new president and they lent their blessing and support to the new leader -- this is something quite rare in our world, and a glorious expression of Christ's presence.
New roles in World Team mean new places to go.
  • Heather has joined the Child-safeguarding team of World Team, which is part of a consortium with other mission agencies aiming to protect children, both MKs and nationals.
  • Sean's role in WT's global leadership means meetings (mostly online) and travel (much more interesting).  We will soon be based out of Columbia, SC for the foreseeable future, for the purpose of:
  1. Facilitating new church planting teams to immigrants in North America--God has brought them from where there are few or no churches to where the message of Christ is accessible!
  2. Mentoring missionaries globally--personally and through online learning activities that are self-directed.
  3. Equipping church leaders in the Caribbean--through personal relationships, seminars, and connecting them with each other.
So, since we're moving back to the U.S., will we still need missionary support?

YES!
 
In fact, the group health insurance for WT members within the U.S. is almost twice as expensive as for those overseas, so our financial needs actually become more.  World Team is a "faith mission" meaning that each member raises support for their ministry and living expense -- some non-profits have major foundation endowments that make this easier.  We don't.  We have a massive army of faithful donors who give out of love and worship to see Christ's mission advanced in the world.
Ellie has been a trooper during these final months in Haiti.  She's excited to be finished with Chemistry soon and to see her friends again in the U.S.
IAN has started a master's in theology program at CIU, while working as a graduate assistant in the e-Sports program. He will walk in the graduation ceremony this spring for his bachelor's degree.

ERIK is officially diagnosed with chronic-fatigue syndrome, which is discouraging. He still manages to work as a grader, get excellent grades and maintain his relationship with his girlfriend, Abigail.

JOEY is finishing up his first year of college at CIU. He plans to work for his grandparents in Wisconsin over the summer.

We are all looking forward to being in the same city again during these years of adult transitions for our kids.

At the same time, we are sad to leave behind the people and the ministries that have marked our lives over the past 13 years and in whom we have invested so much.  But missionaries are mobile, on mission with Jesus, wherever He leads. We know that the same God who led us to Haiti in 2009 is leading us to Columbia, SC for now.
Where will we be in the coming weeks?

Mar. 30 -- final exam for Sean's Greek 2 course
Apr. 3   -- preaching at 2nd Baptist Church, Cayes, Haiti
Apr. 7   -- farewell remarks at MEBSH's Annual Convention
Apr. 9   -- Bible School graduation
Apr. 17 -- Sean preaches at the missionary Easter sunrise service
--fly out of Haiti that week, moving van from Florida to South Carolina

May 1-5  -- World Team America's Area Leadership conference, Florida
May 9-26 -- Sean in Europe for WT Global Leader meetings, plus visiting a few friends.
May 25-30 -- Heather in Ohio for Child Safeguarding meetings.
All of June -- visiting supporting churches, family and friends in Wisconsin
PRAYER TOPICS
  • Our friend Beth Newton fell and hit her head in her home in Ohio last week. She had surgery and is still in the ICU recovering. Please pray for her full recovery.
  • Pray for Erik's recovery and for us to know what other medical options we should pursue. Pray for God's purposes to prevail through this trial.
  • Pray for us to be useful on the World Team groups that we belong to.
  • Pray for our transition from Haiti to be peaceful and ordered, for our "goodbye moments" to be sweet even with tears, and for us to accomplish the final things on our "to do" lists.
  • For MEBSH to discern how they can participate in sending cross-cultural missionaries wherever they are needed in the world.

By His grace,

Sean, Heather, Ian, Erik, Joey and Ellie Christensen

Training the next generation of leaders for Christ's Church and His mission.
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