Recently, Susan, John Gillette and I returned from Ecuador, where we enjoyed a 10-day missions trip. This was my eighth trip to Ecuador in the last 11 years, and this trip was a very fulfilling one. After starts and stops, dreams and disappointments we are now seeing the fruition of a decade of work.
Missionaries, Tom and Lydia Hines, George and Sheree Wuertz and Ned and Marlene McGrady, have worked with our Ecuadorian pastors to get several churches off and growing. A team from Kansas, under the direction of Darrell and Norva Allison, have gone to Ecuador every winter for a decade to work on church and mission buildings.
This trip, John Gillette was able to preach in two of our churches, Susan was able to give her testimony in a women's prison, and I had the opportunity to preach in a growing church high in the Andes. I remember the day Tom Hines and I stood on the two acres of land and prayed that God would make this place a lighthouse that would shine out over the Andes region. Today that is a reality.
On Sunday, I preached to a group of 80 excited, motivated Ecuadorian families, who are reaching their community for Christ. Between the church and prison ministry, 82 people have prayed to receive Christ since May. I cannot begin to tell you how passionate I felt as I looked into the faces of people whose language I could not speak, but whose hearts I could feel. Tears rolled from my eyes and joy sang in my soul. Perseverance was paying off. The first fruits of a dream were now evident.
Often, the Eastern New York/New England District talks about moving from 'here' to 'there', with 'here' being the present reality and 'there' being the preferred future. Once we've started on the journey, there is always the 'muddle in the middle'. The Ecuadorian 'muddle in the middle' included three pastors with moral problems, and one with an attitude problem so bad that he had to be dismissed from the team. In the midst of this, God has raised up three churches, two missionary families on the field with others set to join them in 2013, and a mission center building that will be second to none.
Attached are some photos of this country I've grown to love. I remind you that one of the dreams of ENY-NE is that every pastor should take a missions trip to have his heart broken over the lostness and vastness of this world. Once we go, see, feel and experience, we can never be the same again.