Sunday, March 8, 2009

Working on the mainland in the city of Guayaquil

After spending over a week working in the tourist area of the Galapagos, it took a few moments this morning as we adjusted to the way most of this country lives. Today we partnered with an existing church in a very poor part of town. As we arrived at this small church we were greeted by 9 national church members! It was great to see them so excited. Since none of them had ever used the Evangecube, we spent the first hour training them how to use the cube. They were very attentive and learned fast. After many questions and some practice rounds we were off into the streets. I had four nationals with me and after a couple times watching me and another American share, they were ready to give it a try. They did great as all four shared their faith to their community.

After lunch we closed off both sides of the street (well, it was gravel) in front of the church and had a time of playing soccer. Actually I call it tetanus soccer because of all the rusty bars on the windows, sheet metal fences and debris lying around. The game attracted many kids and youth and we were able to share with them.

It was a hot but good day. We equipped a church with tools, trained 9 nationals in evangelism, shared the Good News with 82 people and 44 prayed to receive Christ. As I was leaving I challenged the pastor and his church to continue the work they started today by doing more evangelism. Just as a hammer lying on the floor won’t build a building, evangelism tools won’t save people if they are sitting on a shelf. They need to pray against the misleading teachings of the Jehovah’s Witness’ that are in the area. They will need to also follow up with the new believers and shepherd them in their new walk with Christ.

I will be heading back to the USA tomorrow and arrive back in Colorado Monday morning. Thank you to everyone who battled for this team in prayer.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Santa Cruz

It was a smooth ride as we headed back from San Cristobal to the main island of Santa Cruz. Since it was so nice we were able to briefly pull into a bay on one of the uninhabited islands. The bay was clam and crystal clear. As we stood on the bow of the boat looking down we saw many colorful fish, sea lions, birds call Blue boobies because of their bright blue feet, and also a shark cruising the bottom. It was an amazing site and a location I’m sure God hangs out frequently.

After we arrived on the island we quickly got back to work. The church on this island is the mother church of all the work that we’ve been doing. They are the ones sending and supporting the pastors on the other islands. After a couple hours of door-to-door evangelism, we gathered for a sports outreach at a brand new Astroturf soccer field. Many people were interested in playing on the field so we had a large group with a wide age range. The 50 people there were from 5 to 50. It was a neat sight. After two separate soccer matches, depending on age, we found a shaded spot on the field and I shared what Christ did on the cross for us. The response was very positive and 34 gave their life to Christ. Afterwards the pastor was very grateful that we helped to strengthen his church and looked forward to continuing to disciple the new believers.

The Cruise to San Cristobel

After a mildly later start we hopped on the boat, of yahtish flavor, and set out on a 3 hour tour, a 3 hour tour. Wait, that didn’t end well for them. (This was a joking reference to all of those who do not remember Gilligan’s island reruns.) Anyway, San Cristobel has around 4000 people living on the island and we are going to strengthen a church that was started two years ago.

Sunday in the main town on San Cristobal can look a little deserted. We found that most people like to head up to the only other town that is located in the mountains to hang out and play soccer. So after the morning sports session, where we only meet six kids, we headed up the mountain to find the people. There was a local soccer tournament taking place so we just set up shop right there. We invited kids to come play and before you know it we had about 20 kids playing. After a time of sports we shared the Good News with them and they were excited to hear the whole story of Jesus Christ. Afterwards we played another game on the big field and used that time to disciple the older kids in good sportsmanship.

The ride back down the hill was interesting to say the least. Our team of 12 was unable to find any taxi’s because the town folks had taken them, so we were left standing there. Finally a farmer came driving by and we stopped him and told him we would pay him if he took us down the hill. He agreed. So the 12 of us hopped in the truck which was personally given to this man by Henry Ford (it was very old) and we shared a team bonding experience.

One of the favorite memories on this island was the opportunity to disciple four of the teenage boys we had met the day before. I invited them to join me for a Coke in the afternoon time. Since they had only accepted Christ the day before I led them through step one in our discipleship program which guides them through what it means to be saved. Having seen a Bible but never reading one, we had a good time explaining how to get around in the Bible and find books, chapters and verses. They were very eager to please in rapidly finding the verses we were discussing. They had many good questions and enjoyed answering the questions about the verses. In closing, I prayed for them and challenged them to get involved in the young church there and learn everything they can from the pastor as they continue to grow in Christ.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Found the man of peace

Our team sailed for one and a half hours through early morning of February 28th, as the brilliant and vivid sunrise shouted God’s glory. Waking before dawn is not one of my strong suits, but watching light break into darkness as God gently coaxed the sun over the black horizon of the South Pacific left me speechless and made the effort worthwhile. It was a quiet, wind swept time to pray and meditate, preparing ourselves and our hearts for what only God could accomplish on the Galapagos Island of Floreanna. The journey, and His display of grandeur left no doubt in my mind that His light would break forth as powerfully on this previously unchurched island as it had that morning.

Floreanna has two hundred residents who live within a governmentally protected national park. People are not allowed to move onto the island without special permission and as such it is fairly isolated. Soon after we dispersed into the community and began sharing the gospel, we met the president of the island. This man, after hearing the gospel, became our “man of peace.” Through the power and persuasion of the Holy Spirit, this leader in the community provided us free transportation, approved the request for a pastor from the mother church of Santa Cruz to relocate with his family to the island, and gave permission for an existing building to be used for future church services. We know that the angels in heaven rejoice over each new believer. That day in heaven must have been glorious as we had the privilege of welcoming 36 new brothers and sisters into the family of God and from that body of believers a new church was born.

Heading back to Santa Cruz against the current was a mighty bumpy ride but was made bearable when the Lord blessed us this a school, pack, herd, whatever…of dolphins swimming and jumping alongside our boat. It was fantastic.

Made it!

Two flights to LA, a red eye to Panama, another flight to the mainland of Ecuador. The next day the final flight to the islands. A bus ride, then a canal crossing by ferry, then another even longer bus ride till we finally made it our base for the first two nights. Wow, God must really love these people to get this team all the way out here. Thank you for praying for our safe travel.