Transformed by HIS Love in Loja, Ecuador

June 27 2017

About a year ago, I went with another OMS missionary to check on our short-term missionaries working in the province of Loja, Ecuador. It was a trip we made regularly to encourage our short termers. We didn’t know that this visit would be a God-divine appointment.

A short time after arriving at the short termers’ house, we heard a knock at the door. Dario and Isaac, two friends of our short-term missionaries, were welcomed inside. They sat down and began to ask questions about God. They asked us to share more with them, thus beginning their faith journey.

Fast forward 12 months and the roles have shifted. Our team of 8 now lives in Loja. Recently, I was sitting in the home of Dario’s family, listening to him share about the Scriptures. He presented the plan of salvation and led two family members and a neighbor to Christ. Dario is the director of one of the main schools in town and is using his position to spread the Gospel. He has been inviting the students' parents to come together and listen to us (OMS Loja missionaries) share about godly parenting. He is casting a vision for children and youth programming so that all ages can be reached for Christ.

Why such a difference? Shortly after we began regularly meeting with Dario and his wife, Dayana, we learned that she was having trouble getting pregnant. In a culture where family is everything, a couple with no children was considered damaged goods. They shared their hearts with us, and we prayed together. We assured them that they were valued and important to Christ.

A few weeks ago, when our missionaries arrived for the discipleship meeting, Dayana had a sweet smirk on her face. As greetings were passed around, she motioned for her husband to look at the paper on the coffee table. Right there, the team and Dario found out that Dayana was pregnant!

Dayana and Dario did not choose to ask Christ into their lives to get what they wanted. They asked Christ into their lives so that they could be transformed by his love. They went from brokenness to restoration. After giving their all to Christ, they received the desires of their heart.

God is at work in Loja Province. This is just one story of how God is moving in the hearts of his people. Sometimes, the progress is quite slow; sometimes, the progress seems to come in like a rushing river. Please continue to pray for workers to help us reach a province full of hungry people searching for the truth of God’s Word.

By OMS Ecuador missionary, BJ Williamson

Tags: loja, ecuador, short-term missions, discipleship, following god,

​Not Alone: Maria's Story

June 16 2017

Down a steep, one-lane, curvy mountainous dirt road, across a little river, and up the other side sits a little adobe and wooden farm house. There are chickens, ducks, dogs, and kittens running around the yard. A hammock, table, and bench are on the little porch. Our friend Maria is always ready to welcome us.

We met Maria last May when she heard about the medical team that was in Chaguarpamba. On her paper she marked that she would like to receive a visit from us. The first time we went, we weren’t sure how to find her house. After asking around, we were told, “to go down the road and, where you see the big tree, that is where her home is.”

Maria used to live in Guayaquil, but when her parents were sick, Maria moved back to their house to take care of them until they passed, leaving her the farm. One day, she told us about her sisters in Guayaquil and how they were Christians. She shared that she used to enjoy going with them and hearing God’s Word. She prayed with us to dedicate her life to Christ and shared how her heart breaks for others who place their faith in idols that can't help them. She feels alone because no one near her has faith in Christ. I handed her a little card with spaces to be filled with seven names for people God places on her heart to pray for. She was excited to be able to play a part, through prayer, in the lives of people she cares about. Every time we go and share a Bible story with her and ask if we can pray for her she answers, “Sure!”

We loved being a part of bringing the Good News to her, and we hope to eventually plant a church she can invest in.

Maria's generous heart means we rarely leave her place empty handed. Even though she doesn’t have a steady income, she always has something to share, like papayas, oranges, and bananas. She invites us to go with her to pick the fruit that she wants us to take home. It is her way of saying thank you.

We are praying that Maria will have the boldness to generously share Christ like she shares her fruit; that her family, friends, and neighbors will know her by her willingness to share Christ; and that one day, there will be a church out in this little farming community of Achiotes.

By Jennifer Riggs, OMS missionary, Loja, Ecuador

Tags: loja, ecuador, ministry, missions, evangelism, unreached,

​Bread and Fish

June 13 2017

“Jennifer! Jennifer!” I heard my name being shouted. I turned around to see a nine-year-old girl with her New Testament open. “Look, I found the memory verse in my Bible that you taught us last week.” I looked at her New Testament where she had the verse circled in blue ink. She was so excited to show me how she had found it on her own.

During our Christmas program, we gave the kids each a New Testament as a gift, which they proudly bring with them every week to our Bread and Fish kids club.

Jaclyn, one of our Loja Challengers who served for a year, started Bread and Fish a year ago while living in Chaguarpamba. This ministry involved her playing soccer and sharing Bible stories with them. When she left, we took over what she started and kept it going.

We hold the kids club every Saturday in the open-air basketball court. Most of the kids come running or riding their bikes, but some of them are dropped off by their parents. We sing songs, learn Bible stories and verses, make crafts, play games, and have snacks. We also have some special events throughout the year, like a Christmas program and VBS.

The kids are learning and growing in their faith. They come hungry to learn and desire to be loved.

I was teaching the story about how Jesus healed Jairus’ daughter, and my heart was filled with joy as I looked at these kids sitting around me with their open Bibles. I asked for a volunteer to read a verse and was met with a chorus of “pick me, pick me.” They were so eager to read from their Bible’s that they didn’t want anyone else to have a turn.

Most of the kids are between six and ten years old, but there are two older girls who come and enjoy it as much as the younger kids. One of the older girls, a 16-year-old, has a desire to be a leader. So, we invest in coaching her. As she grows in her walk with God and in her ability as a leader, maybe someday she will be leading the next generation of kids.

God is touching the hearts of the young.

By Jennifer Riggs, OMS missionary, serving in Loja, Ecuador

Tags: kids club, ecuador, loja, evangelism, outreach,