Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
A common question around our house is, "What are we doing here in the Bahamas?"Of course, we can readily recite all the correct answers to that question:We're American Baptist missionaries.Dan teaches theology and Estela works in general ministry with Haitian churches.Dan regularly preaches in the Consortium churches.Estela focuses on the needs of Haitian immigrant women and their children.
While such descriptive answers are good and helpful in introducing our ministry to people who are not well acquainted with us, they fail to satisfactorily explain what we really are doing here.And to be honest, as first-term missionaries, we often really do feel as if we don't know what we're doing.Sometimes, we are overwhelmed by the great needs (physical, spiritual, and otherwise) of so many people in the local churches and community that we realize even a lifetime of ministry here would make little impact.Other times, we are burdened by the monotonous routine of committee meetings and the endless schedule of revivals and conferences.And not infrequently, we find ourselves doing a tightrope act to avoid falling into the quagmire of local church politics while at the same time trying to nurture fragile relationships with the Consortium leadership.
ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK
This past month of September can best be characterized by the following word: setbacks.
• After months of planning and preparation, the Haitian Ambassador had scheduled a September 16th meeting with local pastors and church leaders to involve them in outreach to Haitians being held in the Carmichael Road Detention Center.Due to a variety of reasons, this meeting was postponed until the beginning of October.
• Since August, Estela has been making preparations for a weekend retreat for the children from her Sunday school class at the New Haitian Mission Baptist Church.Initially, she planned to conduct this activity during the weekend of October 10-12.This idea was nixed, however, when the pastor informed her that this particular weekend coincided with two-weeks of nightly services to celebrate the church's 16th anniversary.Then, after rescheduling the retreat for the second weekend of November, Estela called a planning meeting for the adult sponsors whom she had recruited and nobody showed up.
• In early September, we had planned to visit two of the Consortium's Haitian churches located on the island of Abaco, making this our fourth attempt to do this trip in the past fifteen months.Once again, things failed to work out as planned.
• In July, Estela conducted a Vacation Bible School at New Direction Baptist Church.The interest and enthusiasm that this activity generated amongst both the kids and the adults in the church had led her to believe that the church leadership would invite her back in the fall to set up a weekly program for the kids.In the meantime, interest has waned and no such invitation seems to be forthcoming.
SO THEN WHY ARE WE HERE?
After a month of setbacks, we again ask ourselves the question, "Why are we here in the Bahamas?"Our answer is simply this:God sent us here.And while it may not yet be clear why God has sent us or how he ultimately will allow our ministry to develop, we are regularly reminded by the people we work with that our presence does make a difference.For example, one of the Haitian young people recently told Estela that she hoped that when she got married her marriage would be just like ours.Indeed, it is the little things like this that keep us focused on the fact that the most important aspect of our ministry isn't about what we accomplish but who we are.
Incidentally, ten people met at the Haitian Embassy this past Wednesday night to discuss what we can do to help those Haitians who are in detention.After a lengthy brainstorming session, we came up with some concrete steps for following through on previously discussed plans.Months of planning finally seem to be yielding fruit and, within the next month or so, we expect to be ready to launch the first phase of our new outreach.If September was characterized by setbacks, maybe now we can look forward to taking another step forward in October.
2003 WORLD MISSION OFFERING
We would like to remind you that September and October are the months in which our sending agency, American Baptist International Ministries, conducts its annual World Mission Offering in order to finance its overseas ministries. Typically, remissions from the World Mission Offering account for approximately 25% of IM's operation budget.Hence, we are highly dependent on the financial support provided by faithful American Baptist supporters and friends in order to finance the ministries that we and our colleagues have been commissioned to carry out.
We highly encourage you to consider giving generously to the 2003 World Mission Offering in one of the following ways:
1. If you attend an American Baptist Church, the best way that you can support us is by giving to your church's collection of the annual World Mission Offering.Most American Baptist Churches take this offering in September or October.If your church does not normally promote this offering, we would encourage you to talk with your pastor about the possibility of adding the World Mission Offering to your church's schedule.
2. If you are not a member of an American Baptist Church, or you prefer to make a direct contribution to our ministry, then send your gift to the following address.
2003 World Mission Offering
American Baptist International Ministries
PO Box 851
Valley Forge, PA 19482-9896
Enclose a note that indicates your contribution is "For the support of Daniel and Estela Schweissing in the Bahamas." Once your gift is processed, you will receive a receipt in the mail for income tax purposes.
If you would like more information about the World Mission Offering or need materials to help promote this important activity in your church, please check out IM's World Mission Offering web page at:
We greatly appreciate your continued prayers and financial support, both of which make our ministry possible.
Serving Christ in the Bahamas,
Daniel and Estela Schweissing