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Our Legacy in Latin America

October 1, 2018
by Steve Harling

Ecuador map with red stick pin near the capital city of QuitoA few months ago, Becky and I caught a flight into the Amazon jungle and then slogged our way on a muddy path to a small village hidden in the endless green. Our Reach Beyond team had recently installed a clean water system in the community. Just as we arrived, a wild pig inadvertently wandered into the village. Someone yelled. Immediately, men with guns and spears materialized out of nowhere and rushed headlong into the bush. While the men hunted for the pig, our team visited with the chief and a handful of his tribal elders. They gave us a tour of the spring, the water pump and the elevated tank. It was impressive. The elders went on to explain that having access to clean water has transformed the health and well-being of the community. In a private meeting, the chief confessed that he had recently become a believer in Jesus because of the witness of the missionaries that had installed the pumping system. He was looking forward to the day when a church would be planted in his village.

An hour later, as we enjoyed a plate of freshly butchered pork, a man and his wife clambered up the slippery path to the community center where we were eating. When we asked them to introduce themselves, they said that they were “evangelists” and were on a three-day trek to share the Good News with a distant tribe. As they talked, I was once again amazed at how the gospel had made significant in-roads into the least likely of places.

When Clarence Jones arrived in Ecuador 87 years ago, there were hardly any evangelical believers. Today, there are millions. They live all over the country. From the Amazon basin to the Pacific Coast. In the remote villages to the thriving and chaotic cities.

In the city of Quito, HCJB Radio recently sponsored a missions conference where I was invited to speak. Hundreds of people showed up. A dozen Latin American countries were represented in the crowd. At the end of the conference, an invitation was given. Dozens of young men and women came forward to dedicate their lives to missionary service.

It’s amazing to see how the gospel has taken root in Ecuador through the faithful witness of missionaries and indigenous leaders! Admittedly, there is still much disciple-making that needs to be done. But in Latin America, there is now a strong Church with enormous potential for unleashing the kingdom of Jesus.

Over the last few years, the role of Reach Beyond in Ecuador has been undergoing a significant shift. Where once we were pioneers in evangelism, medical care and community development, we are now focused on equipping and empowering the Ecuadorian Church to take the voice and hands of Jesus to the nations. Through ministries like Corrientes and Apoyo, we are helping to unleash an army of kingdom workers.

As I write these words, I am very mindful that many of you have played a key role in the growth and maturation of the Latin Church by giving of your time, treasure and talent. Some of you have served as vocational missionaries or as working visitors. Others have made sacrifices so that you can financially support the work of others. Many have prayed. The long and faithful commitment of our gospel investors has resulted in amazing fruit for the kingdom!