Antigua & Barbuda’s Most Fragile Natural Resource

“The children are Antigua & Barbuda’s most fragile natural resource” – This quote was shared to me by the Child Evangelism Fellowship national board chairman during my recent ministry trip. August 14-18, 2017, I (Sean) went to meet with the CEF national board and national staff there in Antigua. Fitzgerald Semper is the national director, and he has served as both board chairman and then national director when the Lord called him to serve full time with CEF.

 Fitzgerald Semper and me (Sean)

There has been a CEF ministry in Antigua & Barbuda for some time, but officially incorporated in late 2012.

They have ministry in a number of primary schools and preschools, and God has used the local chapter of CEF (nationally run) to help the local people reach over 1,800 children with the Gospel! These are children that are also being discipled in the Word of God.

August 28-29 they (CEF Antigua) will be holding CEF training here
at this church/school

Monday, August 14:

My plans began to change big time when my cell phone battery died that morning and I had to spend time (and money) I didn’t have getting a new battery installed before my flight. Because of weather delays, the flight to Charlotte was delayed over an hour and I missed my Miami flight by Only. Five. Minutes. I almost was placed on standby but thankfully was given a confirmed seat on the 10pm flight to Miami. Long story short, with the CLT weather I did not arrive at my Miami hotel until 4:30am. Only got 2 hours or so of sleep and it was off to catch my flight to Antigua.

Flew directly over St. Kitts! Saw so many familiar places from the air!

Tuesday, August 15:

Running on adrenaline, I had a thankfully uneventful flight to Antigua, where I met with Fitzgerald all afternoon, stopped by the CEF office and we said hello to Ianthe, the CEF office manager and teacher trainer. She is doing a great job!

Tuesday night we went to the church where we were to have a meeting with the national board. Unfortunately the key was in another vehicle, so ultimately the meeting did not begin until 8pm. It was a good, healthy discussion with the national board about the CEF ministry there in Antigua & Barbuda, developing a strategic plan of action and how to grow and develop a thriving national board and ministry.

Board development is a primary part of my missionary responsibilities, and these face-to-face times are vital as I interact with board members throughout the year.

Wednesday, August 16:

Wednesday I was able to spend the full day with Fitzgerald, as he had a number of errands to run. It was a privilege to see parts of Antigua I had never seen before, meet his mother, his mother-in-law, nephew and sisters. I have been friends with Fitzgerald for almost four years, but it was amazing to hear more about the history of Antigua & Barbuda, his upbringing, the culture and current state of the country. Fitzgerald has a deep heart for the children of Antigua & Barbuda, he said many times “I enjoy traveling to the USA and other places, but I love my country of Antigua and I love living in Antigua.”

He also stopped downtown at the local market where I picked up a bounty of local fruit that I missed!

A guinep!

Thursday, August 17:

Thursday we stopped by Fitzgerald’s church that he pastors (separate from him being a full-time national director for CEF)! I am thankful for local churches that reach the local community and faithfully teach the Gospel.

We also drove to his sister’s home, which is near where Fitzgerald grew up. I was able to see his stomping grounds and get a better appreciation for what local children experience there in Antigua.

The beautiful view from Fitzerald’s sister’s home of Antigua’s country area

Wax Apples/Plum Rose from their tree

My flight back to the USA was uneventful, but there was an hour & a half delay at JFK with the baggage that led to me arriving quite late to the hotel (past 11pm). Needless to say, I have been quite tired this week.

Friday, August 18.

Traveled back to Montgomery!

Was able to deliver these Teaching Children Effectively Level One
flannel figures for CEF Antigua to use as a backup when power outages occur
and the projector cannot be used.

Again, in partnership with The Gospel Coalition: International Outreach,
I was able to get a case of Tim Keller’s Galatians for You (an EXCELLENT book)
to give away to the leaders in Antigua!

A big thank you to Fitzgerald for being such a gracious and hospitable host, he opened up his home to let me stay there and I am grateful.

————————————————————————————–

Two VERY important things to understand:

  1. This was an incredibly needed trip because as an Area Director it is vital to have face-to-face time with each of the national workers we serve at least once a year. In addition, it is important to have face-to-face time with national boards because instead of emailing or calling strangers I am speaking to friends, to co-laborers.

So much of what I do on a daily basis from Montgomery, AL is done via Skype, email, phone call, WhatsApp and other technological methods. But these things are limited. With a visit, even if it is short like this one, I can spend over three hours with the national board, and over 27 hours of discussion and conversation time with the national staff (which is what I did August 15-17). Visits like this are vital and help me assess better the current state of the CEF ministry and how I can best serve these national workers along with the regional team.

  1. Spiritual warfare is extremely real and can be very much in your face at times. I experienced this heavily this week. This week I had the cell phone battery distraction Monday morning, the physical exhaustion from the many flight delays and severe lack of sleep on multiple days, I could not find my passport for almost five/ten minutes on Tuesday, our mortgage payment incorrectly posted twice to our bank account which caused me to spend over 30 minutes on the phone Wednesday (plus the emotional distress of what in the world we were going to do), the car back in Montgomery had the brakes go completely out, there was not a quorum of the national board because 3-4 members were sick, among other things. The enemy does not want the children of Antigua & Barbuda to be reached, and Satan will stop at nothing to distract, hinder or throw curve balls & roadblocks in your way. Everything is on the table for Satan. However, God is infinitely greater and infinitely more powerful! We saw His hand of providence & protection in countless ways this week.

This is why prayer is so important; please remember us as missionaries in your prayers!!! Also, pray for the local CEF staff of the countries we serve, and pray for the local volunteers who teach the children in Good News Clubs & 5-Day Clubs. Pray for their families. Pray for their health. Pray for favor in their travel and pray against the evil one that seeks to devour. Pray all of these things for us as well! Prayer is a vital way to partner in ministry with us as missionaries; so many battles in our ministry are deeply spiritual.

Pray for Fitzgerald, Ianthe, and the entire CEF Antigua & Barbuda family today!

Comments

  1. Tim and Mindy Seeley says:

    Great update, Sean! Thanks for sharing your struggles. We hear you loud and clear and sympathize. One thing we keep telling ourselves is those attacks from Satan/spiritual warfare lets us know we we are doing something right and that God is working. As much as we hate the perceived inconveniences and trials, to not have them could mean we are not “worth” Satan’s time; furthermore, trials are what grow us. Keep the faith, brother!

    • Amen! That is a comforting thought to remember that Satan does not waste his time on things that are not affecting the Kingdom. Additionally like you said, problems are opportunities to trust and rely on God through the storms.

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