So, things continue to develop in the ministry that the Lord has called us to here in Ecuador. As we are getting more and more involved in our local church (Iglesia Bautista Universitaria) which we really love, we are given more and more opportunities to minister the Gospel in many different ways.
A few weeks ago, one of the women in the church told us about a neighborhood children’s ministry that her and her husband have been doing for about 6 months and she invited us to come out and minister to the kids. So, we went and had a great time seeing her ministry and sharing the love of Christ with the children. There were about 15 young children there who received us by singing a worship song that the leaders had taught them. Then, Maria gathered them together and I taught them a worship song on my guitar. Then, Maria shared the Gospel message with them using props and other things that would keep the attention of 5-7 year olds. It was a great time to be able to share with the kids and encourage the husband and wife who have been doing this in their neighborhood just trying to be a witness for the Gospel.
2 Weeks ago, the director of our mission flew to Ecuador to spend a couple of days with us. We had two key meetings in locations where we are hoping to start additional pastoral training centers. One of those locations is in Otavalo where we are hoping to start our first training in May. We went up there and shared with them during their Sunday morning celebration. After the service, we met with their board of elders and shared with them about the ministry of Reaching and Teaching and answered any questions they had. Then, we were invited to join them as they were gathering to do some baptisms and then celebrate with a potluck feast. I was privileged to help the pastor perform the baptisms. We had a great time just spending time with the people of the church and getting to know them better. I will be heading back there on the 29th of this month to preach.
The chaplaincy ministry at the school in Pifo continues to go well. 2 weeks ago, I had the opportunity to share a biblical and evangelistic message with about 300 of the parents during the parent-teacher conference. I shared with them about the importance of using healthy discipline in the home, but that in order to do that, we need Christ to teach us first how to truly love like He does. It was such a great opportunity to have so many non-saved people among us who were hearing the Word of God being taught. We recently restructured our schedule of chapel services that we do and now I have the opportunity to teach all the older grades since we have combined some of the grades together. For the remainder of the year I plan to teach each week about the different attributes of God. I’m emphasizing to them the greatest important thing in life is to love God, but we can’t truly love Him if we really don’t know Him. So, I have created a phrase that the teachings are going to be based off of: Para amar a Dios verdaderamente tenemos que confiar en Él completamente, pero para confiar en Él completamente tenemos que conocerlo íntimamente. (To truly love God, we have to trust Him completely, but to trust Him completely, we have to know Him intimately.) So, I’m starting them off with the attributes of God so that they can begin to know who He is. This week I began by teaching about the sovereignty of God.
Maria finished out the evangelism training that we were giving to the Sunday School workers of the church while my Director and I were visiting a pastor in Lasso and discussing the possibility of starting a pastoral training center there. She did a great job and the people seemed to really learn a lot. The next training that we will do there will be on Inductive Bible Study.
The pastor of our church, who is also my co-laborer in ministry, Joselito, asked me if I could teach the Wednesday night Bible Study that we have at our church. We are going through the Book of John in a very thorough expositional manner. So, I accepted the invitation and for several days threw myself into intensive study of the Book of John so that I could be well prepared to teach expositionally on this particular passage. So, after buying a couple of additional commentaries on John (D.A. Carson and Craig Keener) to add to our Logos library in addition to the books that we already have, I had plenty to use to get a very thorough understanding of John 2:1-11 the story of the wedding at Cana. So, last Wednesday I taught at the church and I think it went well. I’m going to teach this Wednesday as well because I had so much material that I gathered from my study that I could not fit it all into one night.
I’m trying to work out a schedule where every two weeks I travel to Santo Domingo to visit one of the churches there that is part of our training. Santo Domingo is about three hours away, so it is pretty challenging to get there often. So, this past Thursday I went out there and visited a church that was even further out than three hours. The pastors are always super encouraged when they receive a visit from a guy that comes all the way from Quito just to spend time with them and encourage them. But it makes for a long day when I drive three and a half hours out and back the same day, often not arriving home until after midnight.
Since each weekend in February was super busy, we have been taking it easy during the weekends in March. Last Saturday, we hung out with our friends in Calacalí at a nice park and then at their house playing a new card game. And today, we went with other friends to Cotopaxi National Park and had a picnic. Next Saturday, we plan to stay in our pajamas all day and not leave the house. Tomorrow, we will celebrate the 1 year birthday of our beautiful daughter Gabriela Edén Whittaker!