Whenever I am in South America or going to or returning from South America, I think of you and the incredible financial and prayer support that make our ministry there possible. That has certainly been true during the last couple of months. The summer months in North America are always a busy time for missions teams traveling around the world to take the Gospel to the nations. We have been part of that missions surge in recent weeks, leading teams to the mountains of Ecuador in June, to the jungle city of Iquitos, Peru, in July, and to the jungle city of Puyo, Ecuador, in August. Each of those teams experienced God at work in powerful ways.
Because of an episode of heart arrhythmia, I, along with Melissa, missed the June trip to Ecuador, but our daughters, Kara and Hannah, took charge and led the medical team to the area around Ibarra, Ecuador, where many of the people are Quichua-speaking Otavalan Indians. One day they took physical and spiritual healing to the Afro-Ecuadorian community of El Juncal. In seven locations they left groups of new believers that will become either new churches or discipleship groups related to existing churches.
In July, I led a group of 37 volunteers from the Union 3 Baptist Church in rural east Alabama to Iquitos, Peru, where we found the people in four communities to have a spiritual hunger that they were eager to satisfy. Almost 1000 people became new followers of Christ during this door-to-door campaign. Many more showed up for the outdoor afternoon children’s services and the open-air evening evangelistic services.
In early August, I traveled from Peru to Ecuador and there I met Hannah and a group of people from NorthPark Baptist Church and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. We worked in the jungle city of Puyo with Pastor Victor Fernandez and the Agape Baptist Church. Pastor Victor had been a student in the class of young single adults that Melissa taught in Sunday School at the Getsemani Baptist Church when we were missionaries in Ecuador 25 years ago. Another member of the church was Claudia, who had been our student at the seminary in Ecuador. Again we saw many people come to know the Lord and we helped with Vacation Bible School and led training conferences for Bible study leaders in the evenings. As we evangelized, discipled, and worshiped, the nearby Tungurahua volcano erupted, blowing smoke, ash, and hot rock into the air. A highlight of this trip was having Hannah’s birth family show up for an evening worship service and to visit with her brother, Javier, who has converted to Christ and, since we left, has been baptized and is serving the Lord in a church.
We are grateful for you and all who stand with us and support us in this ministry to which God has called us. We are blessed to be part of what God is doing in Peru and Ecuador and hope to be be able to continue for many more years.
(Update to Ministry Partners – August 2014)