Stenway Louvé spent his childhood climbing coconut trees, fishing and playing soccer in Anse-a-Galets, Haiti. While he may be hard-pressed to find a coconut tree in Indiana, Stenway feels at home as a Resident Pastor at College Wesleyan Church. His international faith journey taught him the strength and beauty of the universal church.
How has your Haitian upbringing influenced the way you pastor?
“I don’t know if there’s a good way to put this, but I’m glad I’m different. I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy,” Stenway explains.
Stenway’s ready smile and quick wit are among the first things people notice about him. Stenway attributes this to his parents, who taught him to find joy in any situation.
“Though I’ve been Americanized, I’m not American,” reflects Stenway. “I’m very content with who God created me to be with all of my uniqueness.”
Growing up in a family of deep faith shaped Stenway. His father was a pastor and regularly gathered the family in their living room for bold prayer.
“I was taught this hard-core childlike faith, in which you believe with all your heart that God will answer your prayers. Because of this, my ministry reflects a strong emphasis on prayer and faith.”
In ministry leadership, how can we leave room at the table for people of difference?
As a pastor serving in a foreign context, Stenway knows the challenges of welcoming diversity in church leadership.
“We have to create space for people to bring who they are fully to the table,” Stenway encourages. “We need churches that are not afraid of change, while still upholding what is true in the gospel.”
Individually and communally, the shift to welcoming diversity begins with a shift in mindset.
“It starts with churches, communities and people in general having an open mind to the possibility of learning something different. While appreciating the success of our ministries, we have to keep in mind that our way is not the only way ministry, or life, can be done,” Stenway tells.
How can congregations become more welcoming to international students?
During his time as a student, Stenway was significantly impacted by the open-armed welcome of a mentoring family at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church. Brookhaven’s “Beyond the Dorm” program gave Stenway a home away from home.
“If a church desires to connect with international students, or students in general, make it known to students that there are people interested in connecting with them,” Stenway advises.
“Through Brookhaven, once a week I had a meal with my family. Sometimes I did laundry at their house or just came over to hang out away from campus. It allowed me to develop a strong relationship with a family in the church while I was far from home. I got to learn about them, and they learned about me.
“That’s a powerful but simple way to get connected with international students.”
Likewise, how can international students make the most of their time?
One of the joys of a Wesleyan education is the rich opportunity for relationship, not only with students, but also with faculty and staff. For Stenway, the mentorship of professors became a foundation for growth.
“At IWU, I could develop genuine relationships with professors and their families. Being part of their lives had a huge impact on me,” shares Stenway.
“For an international student just learning the ropes of American life, having a mentor and seeing how that person exercises the love of Christ in their personal life is transformative,” Stenway points out. “I would encourage every student to take that opportunity.”
What’s one thing God has taught you during your time in Marion, IN?
“At times, it seems that we as Christians have a negative view of other churches and denominations,” shares Stenway. “But we, as the universal church, have a lot more that unites us than divides us.
“I’ve seen how if we are diverse—ethnically, generationally, economically—we look a lot more like the Church. We are more creative, and more effective. By coming together, we may be able to do kingdom work in ways we haven’t thought of before.”
Stenway’s faith journey has taught him the beauty of the Church: ecumenical, diverse and strong. His unique insight and wisdom on faith and the church are, in themselves, a testimony to diversity’s value in our church communities.
Gaby Garver is a 2016 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University. Having studied International Relations in college, Gaby’s passion is refugee assistance. She currently lives in Istanbul, Turkey, where she volunteers with refugees and teaches English lessons. Her favorite pastimes are cooking for friends and camping.