Several years ago, Stephen and Robin Wright visited our church in Manta. They were recent retirees from Missouri, working on their Spanish and getting settled in the community. Steve and Robin said that they were Members on Mission from their home church, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty, MO. Their plan was to lend a hand in churches and ministries, and to be available to assist missionaries however they could. Since then we’ve grown to love and appreciate the Wrights. They have become our friends, and have become part of our church family. The Wrights have assisted Iglesia Bíblica Bautista in Manta to build a relationship with their home church.
Short-term missions with a purpose
During the past few years Pleasant Valley has sent visitors and teams to observe, to pray, to serve, to assist, to evangelize, to train, and to build relationships. Their philosophy for short term mission trips is not to do things “for” the national church. They want to do things “with” the national church. They hope to enable and inspire our IBB Manta church family to reach their community for Christ. Then the church can extend its reach, and do missions as they’ve observed and participated with the Pleasant Valley teams. Cultural barriers erode and bonds fellowship have developed.
In September, PVBC sent a medical team to do outreach with the Manta church in the communities immediately around the church building. Medical professionals form Missouri worked with their colleagues from Manta. The Manta church family took responsibility for evangelism and follow-up of every person who came to seek medical attention. People’s physical needs were cared for, and their spiritual need was addressed too. Several people came to faith in Christ as a result.
First Baptist Church of Friendsville, TN has been one of our key partner churches for the past several years. Pastor Bill Gowder and the whole church family have been true friends in the Gospel. Besides regular support, they have been very generous with annual special offerings for our ministry and have sent 3 short-term teams to serve with the church in Manta, Ecuador. They have built some excellent relationships with the church family there and have made a lasting impact. In August it was our privilege to join several other missionaries from their team for two Sundays and for times of fellowship around the theme of Carrying the Light. We would enjoy serving your church during a missions conference. Let’s make plans for 2020.
From June 22 to July 6 our family made a trip to Ecuador. All of us attended church services at Iglesia Bíblica Bautista in Manta. We spent time with church leaders and encouraged the church family. It was a joy to see the church moving forward and God working in people’s lives. Most of our family possessions were still in our home in Ecuador. We chose some items for the trip home in our suitcases; packed others for shipment; sold furniture, appliances and household goods; and gave away the rest. It was hard work and was emotionally challenging, but it served to provide some closure for all of us. Thank you for your prayers for our family.
Recently we received a large donation for the purpose of making improvements to the church building in Manta. The donor indicated a desire to improve the exterior areas of the building. The project provided improved walkways, new benches, plants, a cook-out area, and a secure garage entrance with a parking area. Now the interior patio of the church building is a comfortable place to gather for fellowship before and after church services, and makes a much more appealing impression than it did before. We are very grateful.
After our river journey, Bruce Rainwater and I went to the Andean Region of Peru, to the beautiful old city of Cuzco. While we were there, we met with a number of CERT‘s ministry partners from the towns and villages outside of the city. We continued to encourage, build relationships, and talk about discipleship.
Two of the partners that we spent time with were Pastor Abel Caceres and his brother Abelardo Caceres. They minister in the town of Poroy and in villages in the mountains outside of Cuzco. We attended the Sunday morning service of their church in Poroy.
Both Bruce and I were asked to speak in the service, and then we had the privilege of hearing one of the young men of the church preach. We saw that people of all ages were attending the church and were being taught to follow Christ. The pastors shared with us about new churches they were starting and took us to visit one of them that now has its own pastor. We were very encouraged by what God has been doing through their ministry.
In March I (Tony) accompanied Bruce Rainwater of Christian Emergency Relief Teams (CERT) to Peru to visit CERT’s ministry partners in remote areas along the Madre de Dios River and then around Cuzco. After visiting Peru, we would visit our church in Manta, Ecuador. The goals for the trip were to encourage the pastors, to build relationships, and to emphasize the importance of discipling men for stronger churches.
After we arrived in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, Pastor Tomás Deza and his wife Norma escorted us up-river several hours by car and then boat to where they serve in Boca Manu. We had the privilege of preaching in the church there, and also in a couple of other locations along the river where they are planting churches. Please pray for these faithful servants who have been laboring for 12 years under very difficult conditions.
In addition to preaching in church services, Bruce and I had opportunities to talk with Pastor Tomás and men in the churches about the importance of discipleship, of carrying out the primary command of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and reproducing by multiplication as the Apostle Paul instructed Timothy (2 Timothy 2:2). We modeled what this kind of discipleship might look like in their setting with individuals and groups.
When we returned to Puerto Maldonado, we visited with some of the missionaries there, including Dan and Ruthie Nagao and their children. We hoped to encourage them, and they certainly encouraged us.
Our church in Manta, Iglesia Bíblica Bautista de Manta, celebrated its 14th anniversary in February 2019. We are thankful to God for the way the church has grown and makes an impact for Christ.
The men and women of the ministry leadership team did a lot of hard work in organizing an anniversary dinner. We are thankful for the faithfulness and spiritual growth of those who serve the church.
Tony recently had the opportunity to take an ESL certification course hosted by Knoxville Internationals Network (KIN). https://www.kin-connect.org/
Carol Waldo of KIN hosted the event, and Susan Bell of Carson-Newman College was our outstanding instructor. KIN offers this course multiple times each year. Many churches offer English instruction to adults as a service to their communities and an opportunity for making disciples of Christ among all peoples.