Who We Are:
The Lord brought Autumn and Stephen together when He called us separately to serve full-time in Haiti with the same mission organization in Port-au-Prince following the 2010 earthquake that brought so much devastation to this already impoverished nation.
While serving together, we quickly fell in love and realized God united us to live and serve in Haiti long-term. We married in March of 2011 and returned to Haiti in April 2011. Although we learned a lot during our year with the mission organization in PAP, the Lord was calling us into a more relationship-driven, Gospel-focused ministry. In May of 2011, we officially moved north about an hour and a half to a community called Montrouis to partner with New Vision Ministries.
We moved into the “Mission” and became resident house parents to 14 precious Haitian children. We met and fell in love with our son, Josiah. He was a very abused, neglected, under-nourished 20 month old when he was brought to the Mission. He didn’t trust anyone for obvious reasons and would not allow anyone to hold him…except Autumn. He adopted us before we even knew what was happening, Josiah or “JoJo” became a part of our family. We began to pursue his adoption only to encounter one scam after another with thousands of dollars lost to find out that we didn’t even meet Haiti’s non-negotiable standards for adoption. Our hearts were broken but we knew two things for certain: God had called us to be his mommy and daddy for such a time as this, and that no matter what happened, God was going to grow our faith through this journey.
In May of 2012, we learned Autumn was pregnant with our first biological child. We were overjoyed (and maybe a little overwhelmed! ) with the anticipation of another child, but we were also very concerned about what that would look like for Josiah and us as a family when we had to go deliver the baby in the States.
Autumn had an extremely difficult and complicated pregnancy. After months of severe morning (all day) sickness, at week 19 she had emergency surgery here in Haiti so she wouldn’t lose the baby. A week before she went into surgery, we had an appointment with the US Embassy to apply for a visa for Josiah. (I forgot to mention we had been able to gain legal guardianship/custody of Josiah months before this appointment) God moved MOUNTAINS and we were handed a 5 YEAR visa for Josiah a week before Autumn had to go to the States to be on bed rest for the rest of her pregnancy. We were OVERWHELMED with gratitude to receive the visa as God moved in a mighty way.
Autumn and Josiah were in the States for the remaining months of her pregnancy while I went back to Haiti to finish up some work before I headed back for our son’s arrival. Autumn was considered high-risk to deliver him too early, but we praise God that He kept Asher Michael Byxbe safe inside until he was completely full-term! (one day past his due date to be exact–how is that for “exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine?”) Our God is so incredibly faithful and gracious and we are beyond thankful for how He has blessed and provided for our family. Since then we have also brought in two daughters to our family, Abigail and Ryleigh.
Since we arrived in 2010, the Lord has continued to challenge, grow and teach us more about Him, how to serve the people of Haiti more effectively, how we can work to advance the Gospel and live it out in practical ways, and how we need to trust Him more and more each day. While a lot of physical needs exist here in Haiti, and the poverty is beyond overwhelming, we’ve committed to sharing Christ’s love in whatever opportunities God opens up for us and working diligently to advance the Gospel.
Our purpose for being here is sharing the Gospel, and yet we recognize there are different ways we can serve the people here to build relationships. Our hope is they will trust us and listen to what we have to share with them. That is why whether it is a school partnership, a feeding program, an agricultural program, a community outreach worship concert, a solar street light program or a Bible study–everything we do is centered around finding opportunities to grow relationships and share the Gospel. We are passionate about establishing programs that are self-sustaining. Not knowing how long the Lord will have us here, we want to be certain the impact we are able to have–by God’s grace–is bigger and longer lasting than whatever period of time we live and serve here. We believe that supports the calling to make disciples. We feel strongly led to train Haitian leaders in such a way that they are able to continue the different areas of ministry and greatly impact their communities and their country for Christ long after we are here.
Life is not easy here, but we recognize God has called us here to share and to live out the Gospel among our Haitian brothers and sisters in order to make an eternal difference. We want to be found faithful with the Gospel that we’ve been called to share, and we desperately want others to come to know the grace, love, hope and freedom in Christ that we have found in knowing Him as Savior. We are surrendered to be here as long as God chooses. Daily God is completely faithful to provide for our needs and sustain us along the way, and we praise Him for that!
Want to read more? Check out the Byxbes blog – it goes back to early 2010! www.stephenbyxbe.com
Autumn just started a new blog. It’s called Practicing the Habit of Hope – Go check it out!