YWAM St. Vincent and the Grenadines was started in 2008 as an officially recognized, charitable organization in the nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). However, its legacy and inheritance go back over three generations of godly men and women who fulfilled the desire of the Lord to disciple the people of SVG. This started by a man named Reynold Lambert Eustace who moved to Mayreau in the late 1800’s to teach at Mayreau Primary School. He was also a gifted preacher and Beatrice St. Hillaire, the daughter of the French landowner whose family owned Mayreau since slavery, secretly listened to his message of salvation. Not only did she give her life to God, but in 1899 she also gave her life to the preacher and they were married. They had seven children.
In 1905 John Parmenas (J.P.) Eustace was born. In 1936 J.P. married a Canadian missionary, Minnie Hubble. Together they planted churches and pioneered a number of schools serving the poor or disadvantaged as universal education had not yet arrived. They believed an academic education wasn’t complete without a clear understanding of the ‘good news.’ Today, Emmanuel High School Mesopotamia is one the results of those efforts. “The Life and Times of Dr. John Parmenas Eustace” by Vin G. Samuel honors this great Vincentian.
Grace Eustace was their only child. With much faith and no particular resources, she built the two campuses of EHSM over the last two decades. She is still involved in overseeing its 660+ students. All this time the Mayreau Island estate was still held in common by the heirs and it was believed that it could not be deeded individually for use.
Grace carried another big dream for reaching and serving the youth of St. Vincent. She believed in the value of camp ministry to youth and had always wanted to put a camp on Mayreau. In 2006 it was discovered by circumstance that Grace had the executrix role, inherited from her father, and that she had the power to divvy up the land to the surviving descendants.
After consultation with longtime friend, Norman Chubb, it was decided that he would do some research for an international partner for her to donate her land to and develop the camp. They were looking for a partner who had expertise in discipling youth with a history of understanding host cultures and developing their leaders.
God then set in motion His divine plan to make it clear that YWAM was the organization. The research led to the conclusion that it should be Youth With A Mission and at the same time God spoke to Shamus & Sherry James, the leaders of YWAM Grenada, to take a ministry team of staff and students to SVG to minister in schools, churches and on the street. They ended up ministering in Emmanuel High School and God poured out his Spirit on the students there. For Grace, this positive experience confirmed Norm’s discernment.
Also at this time, without knowledge of the other developments, Bryce Wagner of Mercy Ships (a ministry founded by YWAM), connected with Grace Eustace to express a God given desire to establish a missionary retreat facility. J.P. Eustace’s last surviving sibling, Sarah Anne Eustace, soon donated acreage for this project. She turned 100 years old on March 24th 2010. With no descendants it would seem that God had preserved her for such an important task.
It was becoming clear that God’s timing was ‘right now’ for the next generation to pick up and carry forward the legacy of the Eustace family to disciple the generations to come in the ways of God. He has begun redeeming the land formerly used in slavery for His good purposes.
Norm then contacted Bill Landis, the YWAM Caribbean Director. He did not respond for some time as he believed Mayreau to be a small place with few people. Bill did pray about it and eventually, in the timing of God, felt he was to visit Mayreau and God was promising when he got there God would then give understanding of what his dream and purposes were.
In April 2007 Bill Landis, Shamus James, Tom & Lisa Kaiser and a few other YWAMers met Grace Eustace and Norm & Donna Chubb in St. Vincent and then Mayreau. Time was taken to hear what God had put in Grace’s heart and they waited on the Lord who made it clear that this was his idea and that as YWAM leaders they were to say ‘yes’ and receive the land on Mayreau to disciple generations of young people.
At that time then the search began for the pioneering team who would labor to see the ministry come to life. Annie Bobb, long time Vincentian missionary with YWAM, was contacted and accepted the call as well as Josh and Renita Lapp, a young married couple from Lancaster Pennsylvania. Not long after they moved to Mayreau in May of 2010 another staff member Shawn Milton, a young Jamaican, joined the team.
Building the campus began as miracle after miracle took place with the fairly green pioneering team. With the help of locals and volunteer teams over the last 8 years the YWAM team has been able to construct 7 out of the 21 buildings on the campus plans with plans to continue. Ministry has ebbed and flowed in different seasons as staff have come and been released but the core ministry that has been developing is camp ministry, local Mayreau youth ministry and Discipleship Training Schools.
We are walking in a legacy of faithful servants (the Eustace’s) who have labored before us and we are now as YWAM leaders accepting the baton. May we be the hands and feet of Jesus in our generation as they were in theirs.