Antigua and Barbuda: Stepping back to move forward

“It seemed like we were grasping at straws. We were praying and pursuing all our leads, but without any progress. I felt a real burden for the place, but I realised that we couldn’t force it. We needed to take a step back and ask God to show us the way forward.”

And God did.

With the IFES Caribbean (CARIFES) team, Kerwin Stuart, Associate Regional Secretary, was attempting to re-start student ministry on the island of Antigua. Many years ago, ministry was planted there as the Inter-School and Colleges Christian Fellowship (ISCCF). But when several key people, including some good board members, stepped away from their roles about five years ago, ISCCF activities died out.

Over the last few years, Kerwin connected with some graduates and pastors who seemed to share his heart for campus ministry. But these promising developments all abruptly ended. Kerwin was “perplexed but not in despair” (2 Corinthians 4:8): “we continued seeking God’s direction, asking him to lead us to the right people and show us where he’s at work”.

And that’s when Darlene made contact.

She is the youth director at a local church and a lecturer at Antigua State College – and she’d experienced IFES ministry as a student. Darlene wanted to let Kerwin know that she’d started meeting with a few students from the college to read the Bible and pray together. The “small group” is now consistently attracting 20-30 students each week.

Prayers answered.

Kerwin will soon lead an orientation on IFES and student-led ministry. The CARIFES team also hope that one or two of the Antiguan students may be able to attend this year’s inaugural CARIFES Academy. This will not only give the students skills in leadership but also expose them to the region’s rich network of national movements.

For Kerwin, the frustrated efforts and persistent prayers highlight “the gift of getting aligned with God’s plans”. But the story also points to the vulnerability of ministry on the Caribbean islands – due partly to geographical distances and transient student populations. In recent years, several movements have needed “re-pioneering” or revitalizing, including St Martin and Martinique. Watch out for more details about pioneering in the Caribbean as we approach this year’s Global Giving Day: Into All the World.

For today, let’s pray for staff and students in Antigua and the Caribbean:

  • Give thanks for the tenacious faith of the CARIFES team and God’s work through Darlene; pray for good relations and a common vision as they help this fledgling group become established.
  • Pray for the Antigua State College students attending – that they will flourish together in their faith and be strengthened in their witness.
  • Ask the Lord to lead the CARIFES team towards the right student(s) to participate in the CARIFES Academy – and pray that these potential leaders will have a formative experience with lasting impact.
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