HAYDEN FIRST BAPTIST TEAM GOES TO ECUADOR
One team member shares reflections on the work.
By Larry Sloan
Often we see things or are part of things that we do not completely understand. This is the case many times when we are serving God. We may be where we believe God wants us to be and doing just what we feel He wants us to do, but just don't understand why things are as they are. Recently on a Happy Feet trip to Ecuador the team that I was with experienced this “not completely understanding”. But God in His timing gave us the understanding of why we were where He wanted us to be, ministering to the people we were ministering to.
On this trip to Ecuador we were staying in Quito, traveling each day several hours to the small communities where we would set up and minister to the people. On Monday and Tuesday we went north from Quito to Otavalo and then several miles more to a couple of very small villages. In both villages we set up Happy Feet in small churches. We were met and welcomed by large numbers of people from the area. They were so grateful for the shoes and attention we gave to them and their children. They were very open to the Gospel, and we saw somewhere around 300 pray to receive Christ as their personal Savior these two days. God was truly working in this area. Even with seeing the great harvest for the Kingdom we had seen these two days, there was something we just “did not completely understand”.
You see, while these villages were very poor by our standards. Both had churches, with pastors. The children all had shoes, some better than what we gave them. There were even villagers with video cameras taking pictures as we were washing the children's feet and putting their shoes on them. I had to remind myself of something that I have said many times before when a comment has been made about “a village not being in the most remote location,” or “that these children already have shoes.” My response is “that we are ministering where the Lord wants us, to the ones He wants.” I believe this with all my heart, but from time to time, I have to remind myself of it.
On Wednesday we went in another direction out of Quito, we only traveled about an hour to a farming community where we set up at a church with a small school. Again the people were very warm and welcomed us with open arms. We were again allowed to see the Lord working, some 130 prayed to receive Jesus. Knowing we were going to be back early, I had asked Steve Herrman (the missionary we work with in Ecuador) if he would spend some time when we got back to his house, telling the team about various religious beliefs in Ecuador, such as paganism, the different idols we see along the roadside, etc. Little did I know at the time but we would soon be seeing this first hand.
Thursday morning we were up early and after a great breakfast on our way. Today we were heading north to the same general area we had been in on Monday and Tuesday. This would be our last day of actually doing Happy Feet this trip, while everyone was excited about what the Lord would do today, we were still a little sad that the trip would be over very soon. If you have ever been on a Happy Feet trip you know exactly what I am talking about.
The bus made the turn off the main highway onto a very small dirt road, and headed toward our final but most memorable place of service this trip. As we drove down the road we saw the little church we would be setting up in, across the dirt road from the church was a large soccer field. In the middle of the soccer field there were several grass huts forming a large circle with large yellow flags flying above each one. There was a large number of people at the event and we could see many of them dancing and moving around at the huts. We didn't know what was going on but thought it might be something set up for the people of the village as part of our coming to minister to them. We met with the pastor of the church and went in to set up to begin our work. There was a large number of adults here with their children, and with the limited space inside we decided to have the “Spiritual clinic” outside on the grass at the edge of the soccer field. Everything was going along very smoothly, the team as usual was jumping in doing whatever needed to be done. I had not washed any little feet all week and had just got started washing my second child when Micki, Steve Herrman's wife, came up to me and told me she had found out what the “festival” was about. She said that it was a group that was traveling around Ecuador telling the indigenous people that they should return to their ancestral worship of the “sun god and moon god”. Micki said the pastors told her there were many people who had been attending the churches in the area, that had left them and followed this idea of the sun and moon gods. That this was a problem they were having getting people to come to their churches and stay. When she told me this, all I could do was pray! I told Micki to get someone to take my place I was going to find a place to pray for a while. I didn't want to interrupt what was going on with the children and adults who we were ministering to, so I didn't say anything just went out and started praying. I decided to go for a prayer walk around the festival. I cant really describe the feeling I had walking around this area, I know the Lord was with me, but I could feel the evil that was being told to these people. After I got back to the church I got the pastors that were there and Katty, our interpreter, and together we went out onto the field and prayed together asking God to end this evil, and bring the people to His church and open their hearts to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
After we had prayed I went back inside the church, the team had finished the majority of the children that had been promised shoes. There was about twenty more scheduled to be there shortly after they got out of school. I told the team what the “festival” was all about, and we all got together and prayed. When I say we prayed, I don't know if any of us has ever been in a place where we have prayed any harder, or been as specific. But we all knew we were right there on the “battleground”. We prayed that this evil would end, and the people come to the Lord! After this we opened the doors to the church and started getting every child we could possible fit with a pair of shoes in. Washing their feet, loving on them and then sharing the gospel. As we got started again, someone looked out and said that it had started raining, we gave thanks, and kept on working. Within an hour or so they had started taking down the “huts” and leaving. The people who had been at the festival were at the church. In all some 190 prayed to receive the Lord that day.
While we didn't understand at the beginning of the week why we were in this area, the Lord showed us why He had us in this place, with these people. Thank you Lord for allowing us to be a part of your work.