Immediately after that, we visited Pastor Xavier del Campo and his wife, Yazmin, at their church in Duran. Pastor Xavier is Multiplication Network’s National Coordinator of Ecuador, and he and his family accompanied us for several days.
During the week, Yazmin and their daughters teach kindergarten to 25 children who were not able to enroll in the public school. We were told that in the educational system there is a shortage of spaces so many children are simply locked inside their homes while their parents work. During this visit to their school, we saw children learning to read, write, and count through Bible stories. Many of them have and will introduce their parents to Jesus. They are using some of the PlantiKids material from Multiplication Network.
We then headed to a squatter’s village in Duran to meet Pastor Maria Chila and many of the children who helped her start a church here called Iglesia y Proyecto Infantil Comunitario.
This church, like many others, is in a violent and dangerous area but Pastor Chila uses her church, literally a converted garage, to provide a safe space for the children. Here, many of the children have introduced their parents to Jesus. Despite a recent heart attack and brain issues, Maria leads with confidence and grace. To begin the service, the children assumed the battle position (on their knees with hands folded and elbows on a bench) as three young girls led us in prayer.
We ended that first day with a visit to the “Centro Misionero” church that Pastor Gamino and his fiancé are planting as a result of attending the School of Mission run by the del Campo family. Pastor Gamino’s father also attended the School of Mission and has also started a daughter church. Pastor Xavier has mentored them and several people from both churches are now preparing to be trained.
On the second day in Guayaquil, we began with a visit to the School of Missions where new church planters are being trained to use the training material of the Multiplication Network.
During this visit, two of the visiting pastors, Rev. Ken Korver and Rev. Greg VanHeukelom had an opportunity to share with the church planters. Ken taught about a pastor’s calling and the importance to read, write, pray, and share Scripture. Greg taught about the importance of a strong marriage around social, sexual, and spiritual contexts. We were asked to pray for the School of Missions, for churches to engage and use the tools taught at the school, and for the resources to do the work God has called them to do.
We then had the opportunity to meet with Carlos and Veronica in the second-floor home of a family member which gave us a good view of a very young church plant. Carlos and Veronica have started two churches, one in a house and one on a soccer field. They asked that we pray for them to keep multiplying so they can reach more people for Jesus, and to see more disciples trained.
We finished the day in Monte Sinai, another squatter’s village, in a church called Monte Sinai Church started by Pastor Joanna Sotomayor. She has started several churches over the past 11 years. This church was started just three years ago.
Joanna says, “I like that this is not something that will go away. There is always a need. Multiplication Network’s material has been a blessing, and we thank God that we’ve continued to grow. This is a very hard part of Ecuador.”
Four years ago, this neighborhood was just an empty mountain site. So, people who had nowhere to go moved in. The government has sent in tractors and torn down or burned down parts of the “village” at least six times. But each time, the people rebuilt. Interestingly enough, on no occasion has the church been harmed. Seeing and worshiping with the joy-filled people of the church were an incredible blessing to us.
We began the third day in Quito after a late flight the previous night. Quito was quite different from Guayaquil in climate and altitude. We moved from weather in the 90's at sea-level to weather in the 50's at almost 10,000 feet above sea-level.
Since it was Sunday morning, we participated in the regular service at the “Centro Bíblico de la Familia Cristiana” Church in Colinas del Norte. We enjoyed very vibrant and enthusiastic worship, and Pastor Ricardo Caballero preached In Spanish while the team listened to the translation via a WhatsApp group call.
This church has a great testimony. It is in a place that was being built originally for a disco, and the building’s owner who attends the church has also donated another floor for use in children’s ministry. All these blessings came after they spent time ministering mainly to children in a nearby park.
The rest of this day was spent at “La Mitad del Mundo” (the Center of the World) because it is an attraction that visitors to Quito should not miss. As we neared the hotel that night, our bus and our belongings were searched because the area was under very tight security. Our hotel was being used by the Ecuadorian government to count the votes from the elections held that day.
The next day, our last in Ecuador, was spent in an informational session about church planting and our operations in Latin America. This briefing was done by Dr. Juan Carlos Melo, our Hub Director for Latin America who attended with two other members of his staff. Dr. Melo also serves as the Global Director of Church Planting for the Assemblies of God Church. In this very informative session, we were given a historical overview of Multiplication Network’s beginning in Latin America, where we are right now, and where we are projected to be in the years to come.