Sunday, July 5, 2015

Stories. . . on Ecuadorians Leaving the Past Behind

A quick update on our Visa/Cedula process: we are presently waiting on the Ministario de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana office in Quito to grant us our Visas and Cedulas.  We hope to get them *before* we leave Ecuador for our visit back to the United States next month.  We have been -ahem - patiently waiting since late April for them.  We'll see if Ministario truly delivers this time. . . supposedly there is a lot of applications to process by them at that office lately according to our Facilitator, Joseph Guznay.  Please continue to pray.

The following vignettes will also serve as reminders to pray for the Ecuadorian people who are lost, hurting, and without the hope available in our ever powerful, Risen, and strong God, Jesus Christ.

We have gotten to know Elizabeth, an Azogues native (Azogues is about an hour's drive northward from Cuenca), through our attendance at Iglesia Verbo Cristiana in Cuenca.  She is presently awaiting obtaining a US Visa from the US Consulate in Guayaquil, which will allow her to legally travel from Ecuador to her fiancĂ©e Mark in Wisconsin.  Quite a patient lady waiting on the Visa situation, too.  Anyways, she has a brother and sister who live nearby whom she sees regularly.  (Her mother is dead and buried, as is the custom here in Ecuador.  Her father has disowned the family and is not in contact.) 

One day not long ago she invited them to attend worship services with us at Verbo.  Their background is Roman Catholic, which is virtually standard in Latin America in general.  That association with Catholicism may often be a nominal one with many Ecuadorians, but in the case of these two, they actually have recent attendance in that institution.  

It turned out that her brother really appreciated the services and the message by the pastor present at Verbo that day (they rotate turns at the pulpit so as to provide a shared ministry to the congregation).  So much so that he said he wanted to return back. . . and leave his Catholicism behind.  It is obvious that the Word of God given in song and in the message and prayers is drawing him to the True Risen Lord Jesus Christ.  His enthusiasm is evident despite his using Spanish as his home language, and us native English speakers not always understanding exactly what he is excited at getting across to his sister(s) and us. 

Liberty and freedom in Jesus Christ. . . having your sins forgiven by Him directly, not by a priest. . . understanding relationships in the family the way God wants them to be from His Word, not the way so many here have experienced in confusion and brokenness. . . it's better than a drug, that's for sure!  The Holy Spirit is truly drawing all men to himself, including this one who is heeding the call to follow Jesus.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth's sister was dismayed by the lack of liturgy and pro forma utterances, etc. during the same worship service at Verbo.  She stated to Elizabeth that she was going back to the Roman Catholic Church, and that she was shocked at all the new things that were going on at Verbo during the service (the sister's view).  Breaks Elizabeth's heart to hear that from her own sister, but that's the way some people respond to the Word of God actually lived out and shared amongst the people.  Spiritually dead, and not responding to the offer of Everlasting Life made so plainly each and every worship service at Verbo.  The Evil One is keeping her from knowing the true lost spiritual state she is in before the Father.  Ouch!

Here's another: Fabian, the father of three lovely elementary age daughters, who we have gotten to know through attending Celebrando la Recuperacion (Celebrate Recovery) at Iglesia Verbo Cristiana in Cuenca, is a relatively new believer in the one True Jesus Christ.  Roman Catholic background once again.  He practiced his very good English (learned in Toronto, Canada while working there) with us as we were being driven back in his car from a Celebrando la Recuperacion family outing during the day at a fellow member's vacation home in the Yunguilla Valley two hour's westward from Cuenca at around 5200 feet (lower) elevation.  It was nice to enjoy the bit of warmer weather there and shed our coats at host Juan Carlos' place, where he had a swimming pool and a sand volleyball court for the kids to especially enjoy.  Cuenca that previous week had suffered a cold (for Cuenca) snap - this is Cuenca and Ecuador's "winter" season, though it's known as "summer."

Back to Fabian again.  He asked me in English - he wanted the practice - how we had found Verbo.  "The Internet," I replied.  No family here, or friends when we first arrived.  Not the usual answer, to be sure, in such a family oriented culture as Ecuador.  "How did you find Verbo, Fabian?" I asked back.  Oh, boy!  I had opened up the proverbial "can of worms."  

He related - in English, of course - how he had questions of the Roman Catholic priest at his church.  They didn't listen to him and his questions, didn't respect the situation or the relational pain he was suffering, didn't counsel him from the Scriptures, and gave him a perfunctory kind of answer.  This was evidently over a period of time - not all at once.  Eventually he had made up his mind that the Roman Church could not be trusted with his questions, much less his life.  So he left.  He found out about Verbo from a friend.  Friendship Evangelism works after all, even across cultures and languages!

Fabian has a very evident heart for the Lord.  His wife does not believe the same way he does, which provides a certain amount of misunderstanding and tension within the home.  He is allowed by his wife to bring their three daughters to Verbo regularly, which is a significant praise.  He wants them to learn more English too, which incidentally may well end up with giving me some tutoring work.  Please pray with us for his wife, that she too comes to the Truth that is in the One True Risen Christ Jesus.   

The following story comes via Cuenca High Life, which is an English language Internet site for expats in Cuenca.  They originally sourced it via Yahoo News.  It tells a similar story to my above vignettes, but involves the Quichua, an indigeneous people usually found in the Amazon, although some live here in Cuenca.  The women have a very distinctive (and expensive - ~$100 USD) traditional skirt that they wear, along with their traditional brimmed hats.  I think you will benefit from the perspective given there.


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