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.

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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!

Encouraging Ministry in The Bahamas!

June 22-26 CEF Regional Director Myron Tschetter and I (Sean) went to Nassau in New Providence, Bahamas to encourage the national board and national staff! Lots of pictures in this post, sharing the story of all that God did during this visit to serve the amazing local folks that God has called to serve with CEF there in the Bahamas.

Prior to the trip, Myron Tschetter and I sent out a very detailed assessment form that would be helpful for everyone to get a sense of what the strengths and weaknesses are with CEF in the Bahamas. We had discussed the results on the phone for weeks leading up to the trip, but it was nice to visually see it all printed out! Quite a bit of information to say the least.

As soon as we got there, Dr. Willamae Miller and her daughter Eunice was there to meet us at the airport and bring us to the apartment where we would stay. Dr. Miller has served faithfully with CEF as the national director for the Bahamas for over 25 years!

That afternoon we met with Dr. Miller in the CEF national office to hear her heart for the ministry face to face and better understand more ways that we can best help and encourage her efforts.

It was awesome to meet one of Dr. Miller’s sons, the famous Darold Miller! Darold has the most popular radio show in the Bahamas, Darold Miller Live! A major talk radio show that is very influential in the country.

We then went to have a meeting with the CEF Bahamas board chairman, Pastor Geoffrey Wood.

As the main meetings began, Myron and I praise the Lord that there were so many people who came out from the national board. It was very well attended!

We dove into key topics about systems, vision, strategic planning, board development, fundgathering and staffing.

Everyone was very engaged in the discussion, God has brought key people together that we are looking forward to seeing how God uses in the months and years ahead on the National Board.

One of the board members shared: “I am a new board member, you really clarified quite a bit for me.” Another person said: “This just made my role (on the board) so much easier!” That was our heart and passion, to help address issues they said were in need of addressing, to serve them and encourage them by clarifying roles and expectations. We want to make sure everyone is operating out of their gifts and strengths so that every child in the Bahamas hears the Good News!

At an evening CEF event Saturday, I met this great pastor, Pastor Everette Brown, who went to school in Selma! Small world!

So thankful for all the great local volunteers we were able to meet!

A very special meeting was with the VERY FIRST Good News Club kids ever in the Bahamas! Deandre and Oscar were the first kids to come to a GNC 25 years ago. Now it has come full circle and they are teaching a Good News Club themselves!

Myron gave the morning sermon at Temple Baptist Church!

We were treated to a fabulous brunch with Lisa and Cornell Moss (Lisa is a new full-time staff person with CEF Bahamas) and Dr. Miller after service!

As before, I partnered with The Gospel Coalition-International Outreach and brought plenty of John Piper’s book “Finally Alive” to give to all the CEF National Board and Staff. Very thankful for that amazing ministry of getting Gospel-saturated books into the hands of His people!

Pictures around town!

While we were there in the Bahamas, I read about how a man from Lee County, Alabama was shot while walking on the beach of Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos. An incredibly tragic story that gives an excellent example of that fact that paradise is not what HGTV makes it out to be. It is urgent that the local churches reach out to the next generation in their island, the doors are WIDE open for the Gospel and the future of their country depends on it!

I give God praise for all that He did through this trip to encourage and develop the CEF ministry taking place in the Bahamas. We pray with them that children on every island would hear and know King Jesus!

Will you pray for the Bahamas today?

Guest Missionaries at Camp Victory!

June 5-10 we had the opportunity to be the guest missionaries at Camp Victory in Samson, Alabama! We have known Nate and Laura Smith for quite a long time (Nate is the Program Director) through an annual missions conference at a local church in Montgomery. I (Sean) have also known many who have gone to Camp Victory over the years. Mandi and I have had the chance to be guest missionaries there before a couple years before we originally left for St. Kitts & Nevis.

But first, we celebrated Riley-Grace’s birthday on June 4th! She is obsessed with the beach and with planes (that first year of life in Turks and Caicos must have made an impact on her). So we went to Gulf Shores and celebrated her birthday with my side of the family.

 

Mandi wrote on Riley-Grace’s birthday: “Happy 3rd Birthday to my sweet Riley-Grace! In 3 years this kid has lived in 2 countries and visited a third, been to 15 states and flown more than I can remember. She LOVES the beach, Peppa Pig, Dory, Nemo and Little Einsteins. RG is our daredevil and is VERY resourceful. I love how much she loves her family… she is always giving me hugs and saying “I wub you mommy!” She is extroverted like her Daddy and is his “go places buddy”. She copies everything her big sister does and absolutely adores her baby sister!”

Maddy also always loves the beach!

Maddy was a part of Cabin 4 at Camp Victory (4th from the right), with a fantastic Counselor and Counselor in Training. This was her first time at a camp and she loved it!

Riley-Grace loved the camp activities as well! She loved running around in the wide open spaces and loved picking blueberries to eat off the blueberry bush.

RG was a big fan of snack time also, and loved having her face painted.

She loved meal time as well!

Maddy absolutely loved being at Camp and wants to go back next year!

So what did you do all week you might ask? We were the guest missionaries, so our role was to share with the kids about overseas missions. Every morning we had a 30-minute session with the kids to share pictures, videos, curios, etc… and the kids were really engaged. We also met with individual cabins in the afternoons, led in devotions for the staff and challenged the Counselors in Training to possibly serve with Child Evangelism Fellowship in their local area (or overseas) one day. At the end of the week we gave each of the kids the “Things You Need To Know” booklet by CEF!

One of the challenges for the children that week was to write encouragement cards that I could take on my June 23-26 Nassau trip to Dr. Willamae Miller, the national director for CEF Bahamas. The kids of Camp Victory wrote very sweet cards to her!

Lastly, we were blown away by the generosity of the children, they raised a large offering (over $600!) to help with the costs of the August 14-17 trip to Antigua! Praise the Lord for His provision and the unique ways that God provides for the needs of the ministry.

We were grateful for the opportunity to come and share with the children about what we do as Child Evangelism Fellowship international missionaries! Our family had a great time!

Celebrating 80 Years of God’s Faithfulness!

1937…a great year by God’s grace! In that year, the beautiful and gloriously delicious Krispy Kreme donut was available for public consumption.

 

The Hobbit is published by J. R. R. Tolkien in 1937.

Cost of a gallon of gas in 1937 was 10 cents.

Also in 1937, Child Evangelism Fellowship officially started with the mission to serve and work with local churches as they reach out to the children in their communities. The goal back then and now is every child in every country hearing the truths of the Gospel, being discipled in the Word of God, and the children and their families being established in local churches.

May 8-13, 2017 Mandi, Charlotte and I went to the triennial CEF International Conference in Ridgecrest, NC (thanks to Sean’s Mom for taking care of RG and Maddy!). Over 1,500 people were there from over 100 countries! It was by far the largest CEF international conference ever held, and it was a special conference because we celebrated 80 years of God’s faithfulness to CEF ministry around the world. We also give praise to God that CEF has nationally led ministry in almost every country of the world!

I had the opportunity to lead two workshops on “Zeal Without Burnout“, a workshop based on the amazing book by Christopher Ash. I gave away four of those books, and the first workshop was translated simultaneously in three other languages. This was a little distracting at first, but it meant that this session was going to be taken back to many other countries and used to serve and encourage CEF workers in their own language!

CEF is made up of 96% national missionaries, people serving in their own country. This is a foundational belief with CEF, that it is God’s design for the local people to reach the local children.

That is why we do what we do now as missionaries, we help the national leaders and board members in the Caribbean to make their jobs as easy as possible.

We want to free up their time by assisting with eliminating red tape, board/staff issues, logistics, materials, fundraising, strategic planning and vision casting.

We daily ask the question, how can we help these workers in the best way possible so that every child on every island in every nation is reached?

It was a joy and a privilege to have face to face time with nearly every CEF national worker we serve, and see so many of our fellow CEF friends and coworkers!

Thanks to technology, as long as I have access to the internet and/or a phone, I can do my job from almost anywhere in the world. However, there is nothing like spending invaluable face-to-face time with someone, praying with them and hearing their heart and vision for ministry in their country! That was the highlight of this conference for us.

Praise God for the past 80 years of CEF ministry! Please continue to pray for CEF, that the next 80 years would be marked with a further resolve to have Gospel-centered literature, wise leadership decisions and a focus on being a humble servant to the Church globally.

God is faithful!

 

Sharing Hope in Turks and Caicos!

March 31-April 9 we partnered in short-term ministry with CEF of South Dakota to share the message of hope with 2,079 children in the Turks & Caicos Islands! We were able to reach out with the true meaning of Easter the week before schools in TCI let out for a two week Easter break.

Something that we are very passionate about with short-term ministry is the vital importance of the local church in the local community. We go with the primary goal of helping the local people reach the local children. So we rejoice in saying that we partnered in ministry with 21 local churches and 20 local churches received CEF curriculum! Also, 28 local Bible teachers from nine local churches were trained at a CEF teacher training at Bethany Baptist Church Monday night.

We were able to reach out to every public primary school in the islands of Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos and South Caicos!

Ianthe Pratt Primary School

Oseta Jolly Primary School

Enid Capron Primary School

Doris Robinson Primary School

Hubert James Primary School

Iris Stubbs Primary School

Neat story about our time in South Caicos, one of the teachers is from Jamaica and has family in St. Kitts! Such a small world.

We also ministered in two private primary schools in Provo and South.

Precious Treasures International School

Calvary Christian Preschool

Interestingly enough the principal at CCP (below) trained with CEF forty years ago in Jamaica. It was a special privilege to encourage each of the principals at each of the schools with an appreciation gift!

Last but not least we were able to bless another private primary school (The B.E.S.T. Institute) with teacher appreciation gifts (including the book “What is the Gospel?” by Greg Gilbert), and 60-Day Wonder Devotional Books for the children.

Through this trip we were able to share the hope of Jesus Christ with 2,079 children! Of those children, 343 kids came to after-school Easter Party Clubs.


2,084 60-Day devotionals handed out to children


197 Meet the King booklets given to children


4 islands, three of those islands having the very first CEF ministry ever

South Caicos Docks

79 Christian books given to primary school teachers through partnership with The Gospel Coalition International Outreach

One of the most exciting things was that after the teacher training Monday night, two individuals came up to us and asked how they could be a part of leading the local ministry there in TCI. Will you pray for them and pray for me as I continue to share with them the process for coming on staff and the next steps they need to take?

We could not have done this without another great team from CEF of South Dakota. Brittani, Kendra, Winter and Annalise were fantastic, flexible and never complained about anything the entire trip. They were a blessing and encouragement to everyone they met and the children loved interacting with them and hearing them share about the love, hope and joy found in Jesus Christ alone. We are very thankful to Leanne Higgs from Harvest Bible Chapel TCI who was gracious in letting the team stay with her!

All Glory to Jesus Christ for all that HE has done!