Chicago HBF (Illinois, USA)
July 30, 2012
This summer, God opened a door for a team of students to go on a short term mission’s trip to Quito, Ecuador. For this short term mission’s trip, UBF partnered up with Youth World, a non- profit organization that connects teams from all over the world to serve local churches in Ecuador. For eleven days from July 8 to July 18, a team of eleven high school students and three team leaders packed up our bags in Chicago, got on a plane, and flew off to Ecuador to serve churches in the name of Christ. Theeleven high school students include: Angelo Mendoza, Esther Ahn, Faith Hong, Faith Koh, Grace Mederich, John Mederich, John Ward, Joseph Wang, Marlene Lenthang, Paul Albright, and Timothy Fernandez. The three team leaders includemyself as well as the High School Bible Fellowship Coordinators, Sam Toh and Francis Choi.
After a shaky plane landing, we stepped out onto the cool grey concrete to meet our Youth World hosts, Ruth Eygenraam and Diego Candela. Our mission to serve: For our maximum Growth, for others maximum Good, and ultimately God’s maximum Glory. To do this, our team set out on a quest to serve two different local church ministries in Ecuador.
We served at our first ministry site in an indigenous community. Starting at the city of Quito, our team traveled north for two hours to a town called Otavalo. We started each day around 6:30 a.m. with daily devotionals and breakfast. Then, our taxi truckwould come to pick up the team and drive twenty minutes to a small rural indigenous village called Gualsaqui. Here in Gualsaqui, we met and served the Keichua people at a church called IglesiadelNazareno.During our time there, our team planned and led a sports ministry with the 30 to 40 kids, ranging from ages five to eleven. We played several games of soccer, volleyball, and even taught the kids how to play with the Frisbee. Two of our team members, Faith Hong and Marlene Lenthang, led a Vacation Bible School Activity based off of Genesis 1: God’s Creation. Team members supported their activity with an exciting skit demonstrating the movement and beauty of each creature that God created. In addition, our team helped the Keichua family construct a multipurpose building next to the church. This space would eventually serve the church and community’s many needs- ranging from praise and worship practice, Vacation Bible School with the kids, and a meeting space for Bible Study with adults. We had many different roles in the construction process. Some of us scooped sand and rocks into the gas powered cement machine, wheeled the cement from the machine to the foundation of the building with a wheelbarrow, and some were ready with our cement tools to maneuver the thick and chunky cement into the 3 feet hole in the ground. Many of us quickly moved large and small rocks and oversized bricks from one place to another in an efficient assembly line.
During the middle of the week, our Keichua family invited us to an evening church service for adults. The HBF team prepared and performed two special songs for the 30 attendants. Two members from the HBF team, Angelo Mendoza and Timothy Fernandez, gave a testimony about how they met Christ at the service. I was moved to see God’s transformative power in each of their illustrative stories.
It was also truly a blessing for all of us to witness the power of Christ in the village of Gualsaqui. As the girls swayed back and forth in their traditional Keichua dresses and the echo of the banging drums jumped off the cement walls, the people of the community praised God with a fervent passion. Shouting the words “Cristo!”while lifting their hands up to the ceiling, we witnessed their zeal and enthusiasm for Christ despite our first impressions of their quiet and meek nature. The most powerful thing we learned from our Keichua brothers and sisters is importance of sacrifice. The Pastor’s testimony moved our hearts as he shared with us.
Pastor Louis met Christ through his Aunt, and he developed a strong desire to spread the Gospel. The opportunity arose for Pastor Louis to build a church in his community, but the idea was met with deep resentment from people in his community. Nevertheless, God opened up the door for Pastor Louis to physically build a church from the ground up. Shortly after the construction of the church building, people threatened to kill him and burn the church straight into the ground. So every day for many nights, Pastor Louis slept outside of his church to defend his faith and protect the building. Eventually, the community saw that he had something deep in his heart to share with others- the love of Christ. Many people saw his genuine faith, and gave their lives to the Gospel. As Pastor Louis prayed in Spanish, it was so evident that God was moving in the small village of Gualsaqui. His passion for the Gospel reminded us of how important it is to live not for ourselves, but to live for the glory of God. His testimony reminded us that we must hold firmly to the words of truth that give us life. He reminded us of the love of God for all people, and that each of us is a masterpiece created by our Father in heaven. While the Keichua people did not have much, they radiated pure joy and excitement because of the presence of Jesus Christ in their life. It was a blessing to see God’s hands in their lives, and how each one of them ultimately lived to bring glory to God.
After saying our goodbyes to the Keichua community, our team headed up to a retreat site called El Refugio. Here, we had a group bible study on Ephesians 2 and spent time with the Lord in nature. Then, we traveled back to the city of Quito to serve at our second ministry site. Our team partnered up with a local church called Miscion Cristiana Dios es Amor. At this ministry site, we gave a special song offering at their Sunday worship service- one song in English and one song in Spanish. After climbing up a 45 degree street incline, our team participated in a sports ministry with the street kids. We danced to dance aerobics, played competitive street soccer, and shot hoops into the handmade basketball hoop. At Dios es Amor, the HBF team assisted in the church’s nutritional talk for mothers in the community, painted classrooms for the children’s rooms, and helped construct a performing arts building for the church. We spent many hours doing arts and crafts activities with the kids- making a handmade piggybank with foam, stringing together beads to make bracelets, designing our own foam crosses, and drawing on faces with facepaint.Our team was so blessed by Pastor Fernando and Dios es Amor church. Each night, a different family from the church invited us into their homes for a delicious, home cooked Ecuadorian meal. We are so very thankful for the fellowship with our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters at Dios es Amor!
God taught me many things as well. At our retreat site, I climbed up the mountain and was astonished to see God’s beautiful and perfect creation. I was reminded of his holiness and his divine presence. Inspired by our host’s description of the life of a butterfly, I shall share this story with you. A butterfly only has 4 days to live. They only have 4 days to reflect the glory and beauty of the Lord. During their 4 days, they spread their wings and reflect the beauty of God’s workmanship. I want to be that butterfly. I desire to reflect the beauty and the glory of the Lord in my heart. This brings us back to our key verse; Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to”. I know I am God’s workmanship. I know that we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works. And we know that God prepared us in advance to do them. We pray that we reflect the glory of the Lord in each of our lives.
As a team, we are so very thankful to all our supporters. We are so thankful to God for providing us this wonderful opportunity to serve and reflect his glory. If you have a chance, please pray Pastor Louis to build an office space to meet with people in the Gualsaqui community- it would really mean a lot to him. Thanks be to God!
By Roxana Ng