From the rooftop of the Extreme Response building where our team stayed, you could see a slice of Quito—a city of 2.7 million stretching 20 miles long and several miles wide through the Andes Mountains. Here we ministered to the poorest of the poor during my second week in Ecuador.
But first things first: thank you so much for standing with me in this mission trip. God graciously answered your prayers and provided safety, good health, strength in the high altitude, and many opportunities to minister in the name of Jesus during the two weeks I was in Ecuador.
For my first week I stayed in Riobamba, a city of 150K located about three hour’s drive south of Quito. There I partnered with veteran missionary Ross Hunter in his ministry of training Quichua pastors. The Quichua people are descendants of the Incas, subjugated by the Spanish some 500 years ago and still living as an oppressed people. Ross had planned 5 training sessions in different locations on 5 consecutive days, four of which l led and one in which I observed Ross. We drove from Riobamba to Quichua villages high up in the surrounding mountains for the first four meetings; the final one was at Ross’s house in Riobamba.
I taught from the book of Revelation with the goals of both equipping the pastors with study skills and encouraging them to faithfully follow Jesus through the challenges they face. I learned right off the bat that I needed to be flexible—indeed, the need for this trait had been stressed in the training we received before leaving for Ecuador. Most of the training sessions started about an hour after the posted start time, many of those invited and expected did not come to 3 of the 5 sessions, and folks other than pastors came to most of the meetings. I never quite knew what I would encounter and had to be ready to adapt on the spot.
Jorge is a leader with far-reaching impact among the Quichua churches. Ross works regularly with Jorge and he participated with us in several of our meetings. At times I spoke in English, Ross translated into Spanish, and Jorge translated into Quichua! Although the Quichua people are fluent in Spanish, Quichua is their heart language and their attention peaked when Jorge conveyed the teaching in Quichua. It became clear to me that the national believers are much more effective in reaching their own people; hence the value of training pastors.
Another key leader with whom Ross works closely is Alberto. With a university degree from, Alberto has one foot squarely in the modern Spanish world and the other in the traditional Quichua world. His vision is to become a coach to Quichua churches, helping them to gain helpful strategies to benefit them in their ministry. Ross and I had extended time with Alberto. He posed several questions to me which generated conversations about ministry philosophy and leadership development.
Between my six days with Ross and the arrival of the team from church, God provided a special blessing: the opportunity to stay overnight in the HCJB guest house in Quito. HCJB is a radio ministry (now called “Reach Beyond”) in which my parents served as missionaries in the late ’50s. I was able to visit the HCJB compound and see the place where we lived as well as the hospital where I was born.
It was a happy reunion when the team arrived at the Quito airport! For the next week we partnered with Extreme Response, a ministry that reaches out to people in extreme situations. A large part of what Extreme Response does in Quito is devoted to helping people who make their living by foraging through the Quito dump in order to find recyclable materials. Extreme Response, in partnership with Pastor Jose and Teresa (who started the dump ministry 16 years ago), has (1) a morning ministry to the women, equipping them with micro-business skills, (2) an afterschool program for the children which feeds them, helps them with homework, teaches them the Bible, and leads them in play time, (3) a men’s program, teaching men the Bible and woodshop skills, and (4) a late evening ministry of feeding the men and women while they are “on the job” in the dump sifting out recyclables. Our team engaged in all of these efforts. On Saturday we helped the missionaries provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the children: an excursion down into the rainforest to visit a butterfly farm followed by a hike to a waterfall to swim in the pond into which it empties.
In addition to these efforts, we served a meal to the city poor in partnership with Pan de Vida (Bread of Life) and helped at a small Christian school called Nuevos Amigos (New Friends) by working with the students as they learned English, playing with them at recess, and painting some buildings.
What I found so very encouraging was that each of these ministries mentioned above is centered on proclaiming the good news that Jesus, God’s Son, died on the cross for our sins, rose again, and now offers forgiveness of sins and new life to all who believe in Him. Extreme Response and these other ministries with whom they partner meet the material needs of people while also proclaiming the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. As the director of Pan de Vida said to me, “If just one person gets saved, it will be worth it all.”
Here are some things you could pray about: the continued progress of the gospel in Ecuador; that the Quichua churches would understand their biblical responsibility to support their pastors financially; wisdom and strength for the Hunters and the Extreme Response missionaries in their ministry efforts.
Thank you so much for supporting me in this Ecuadorian ministry. God stretched me and, hopefully, used me for the progress of the gospel and the strengthening of His people. You had a part in that. Gracias!