We rejoice in what the Lord has been doing among us here in northern Ecuador. Just last week we completed our first week of a new pastoral training site in Otavalo among the Quichua people. Being the fact that it was the opening week, I really did not know what to expect. I was just hoping that by the time we were supposed to begin on Monday morning that there would be at least a couple of bodies in front of us to whom we could teach the Scriptures. Well, the Lord certainly exceeded my expectations as the morning session brought in about 20 people each day and the evening session brought in about 30 people. There were probably about 8 – 10 different churches represented with several pastors, leaders, and church members all eager to learn Biblical truth. The first week’s topic was Old Testament Survey as well as the spiritual discipline of reading the Bible.
Truly, the week was fantastic! Each day the room was filled with believers who were hungry to know more of the Word of God. Each session would end with about 45 minutes to an hour of Q&A. These times often went over their allotted time because of all the questions that they were asking. It was great to be able to share biblical counsel with so many and help them see what the Scriptures say about their particular situations that they were asking about. In addition to the Q&A time, I was constantly being approached by others during our break time asking me further questions about the Christian faith. Needless to say, I didn’t really get a lot of “break time” because my breaks were spent sharing one on one with individuals who had further questions. At times, I even missed eating our evening meal together because somebody would flag me down just as I was about to head out and ask me for some private counsel about their specific situation. But the truth is that I was so pleased to miss a meal so that I could open the Word of God with my brothers and see the Holy Spirit bring truth and clarification into their lives.
The team we had that came to teach was great. They are from a church in PA. They did an awesome job teaching throughout the week. We were incredibly busy because we were teaching two 5 hour sessions each day, one for those that came in the morning and the other for those that would come in the evening. And often times between sessions, instead of having a time back at the hotel to rest, we would go out to lunch with the pastor and have even more discussion about issues pertaining to the Bible. So, although it was one of the busiest weeks I’ve had here in Ecuador, it was also one of the best and most fruitful. The week also brought my translation skills to a new level since I was the only translator in the morning 5 hour session. But this has shown me that the Lord has brought me to a point now in my language skills where I can effectively translate for long periods of time. Therefore, from now on, in all of our pastoral training programs all throughout, I am going to be the translator. I think this will make the sessions even more effective because I as the translator know the material that is being taught and so it often gives me opportunity to elaborate with the group on a specific area if I feel that they need to really understand something better. So, even though it will be a lot of work, I know it will be worth it to help lend to the teaching times. Our next session in Otavalo for pastoral training is in September.
But we will be up there for two consecutive weeks in July with mission teams that we are hosting back to back. The first one will be a youth team from our home church, Lake Hills Church in Asheville, NC. There will be about 9 youth and 3 adults and we will be ministering to children and youth throughout the week in a small Quichua community outside of Otavalo. Then, the day after that team leaves, another youth team is coming in to work with us for the week in Otavalo. We will be working with our contact pastor there in Otavalo, Pastor Raúl of Iglesia Bautista Canaan. We are excited to see how the Lord will use these opportunities to make His name known in Otavalo. July will be a blur because we will also be working with another mission team coming to work with many of the orphanages here in Quito. So, we will be helping out with that as well.
We also have a pastoral training team coming to Santo Domingo in June for our third week of training there. In addition to the training, others are coming so that we can do outreach and ministry during the day. We have a great week planned of ministering to children in schools, ministering to youth in the churches, women’s meetings, helping clean up a community that was devastated by landslides, and of course our pastoral training in the evenings. I am excited because this time Maria and the kids will be with me because Maria will be one of the additional translators that we need with such a big team.
One other important ministry to be in prayer about. Our church is having an evangelistic crusade all this week. There is preaching each night as well as home visits and other ministries during the day. I will be preaching Wednesday night and will also be helping all day Thursday in Calderón where I have been helping lead the Bible Study. Please be in prayer for this outreach effort that the Word of God would go forth with boldness and that the Lord would use His church to proclaim the message of salvation. On the first day, there were a few people who came forward to confess their need of a Savior. Pray that the Lord would bring in many throughout the week through the powerful work of the Holy Spirit that regenerates a dead heart to life.
Thanks so much for all your prayers and support. We are all doing well. The family is healthy and by the grace of God we are growing together in love for one another and in holiness and sanctification. Gabriela is now standing on her own and is able to walk with some help. Jake is becoming a lego master and is fascinated with building lego airplanes. He looks like an engineer when he is doing it. Isabela just has creativity oozing out of her from all directions. She is now teaching herself how to knit and she continues to get better with crocheting, which she also taught herself to do. She is excited to have her birthday next month (June 21st) and spend it at the beach during our free day with one of the mission teams. Maria is becoming quite the decorator of the house and is really turning this place into a home. Me, well, I have zero creativity skills, but I have been developing mad skills on the trails with my mountain bike. I try to get on the trails at least once a week as well as do a couple of road rides each week to get into better shape. I am learning that Ecuador is a mountain biking and cycling paradise. There are races all over the country. I’m hoping to do a race by the end of the year. But I love mountain biking here. There are so many incredible trails with amazing views of God’s beautiful creation.
So, as much as the ministry is growing and doing well, so too our personal lives are growing and taking root here in South America. We pray that the Lord gives us further opportunity to plant our roots here and that whatever we do, we would do for the glory and honor of His name!
Here are some pics of life and ministry in May!