I realize that it has been well over a year since I updated our blog. It isn’t that we have abandoned our ministry in Ecuador, only that we are really busy maintaining ministries here in the States and also in Ecuador. I can’t believe it has been two years now since we sensed the Lord telling us to move back to Tennessee to resume ministry while maintaining our ministry in Ecuador. Just to update you on our current situation, Cathy is working fulltime managing a pharmacy in Adamsville. Eli is enjoying his first year of college at Middle Tennessee State University and Olivia is a senior at Adamsville High School. I am blessed to be the pastor of Carmel Heights Baptist Church in Crump, TN. God is so good and has been so faithful, and we have seen Him continue to bless the ministry in Ecuador, as we’ve been able to coordinate and support the work through my ministry partner, Sixto Salcedo.
It has been incredible what God has done in Ecuador this year. I believe we have seen Him do more through Sixto’s fulltime work (since graduating from the Bible Institute last October) and short-term groups than we could do when we were living there fulltime. I had the privilege of leading two short-term groups back to Ecuador this summer. God continues to open doors of opportunity, as we were able to work in four different locations.
In June Bro. Chuck Castles and a group from Clear Creek Baptist Church in Selmer, TN ministered in Ecuador for the second year in a row. We were blessed to be able to work at three ministry sites this time, one of which was not in our original plans. We did VBS and other ministry at the mission in Guadalupe and at a small church in San Vicente, both in the area near the new airport in Tababela, east of Quito. It was especially exciting to witness the excavation for the foundation of the new church building at Guadalupe following the purchase of property by the folks at the mission. However, God surprised us with the third ministry location, in Tababela, as He revealed to us His answer to years of prayer. I am very excited about what God is doing in Tababela and am amazed at how He started it! Let me explain.
Our group was staying in a hotel in Tababela due to its proximity to the new airport and also to our ministry sites. (My family and I had been praying about starting a Bible study and hopefully a church there, even before we had moved to a nearby town back in 2010. Since we never had a contact in Tababela, beginning work there was never possible before we moved from Ecuador.) As we walked through Tababela one morning, one of the group, Nicole Stoppa, handed a gospel tract to one of the residents. I was soon drawn into a conversation with Nicole and the local lady, a pharmacist named Siberia. She was very interested in our group and had a lot of questions about our presence in her town. When I told her where we were working and what we were doing, she responded with a question that really challenged and convicted me. She asked, “Why are you not working here in Tababela?” I felt as if the Lord Himself had asked me the question through her. As a result, I challenged the group to alter our schedule somewhat to make time to do some ministry there later in the week.
Space will not permit a detailed account of what happened in Tababela that week, but God was definitely in the details, setting things up and showing His power and glory as only He can! To make a long story short, we received permission from the mayor to have a VBS-type event in the Tababela city park and with the help of the local school director, had over 250 children in attendance for the event. Not only did the children enjoy fun activities and a Bible story presentation, over 100 adult on-lookers received gospel tracts. We were in awe of how God had given us the contacts we needed and had opened doors of opportunity for ministry in Tababela. And it had all been the result of the obedience of one person handing a tract to a stranger on the street! I returned home to the States with that first group praying and wondering about just what the Lord had in store in Tababela.
I returned to Ecuador in July with Bro. Darrell Sullivan and a group from FBC Wellston, OK, excited about the possibilities. We again stayed in the hotel in Tababela, and in addition to working at three other ministry sites, we scheduled another VBS-type event in the city park. By this time the local children were out of school for summer vacation, but we took advantage of the summer school program, with over 100 children meeting daily in the municipal building adjacent to the park. The children enjoyed lots of fun activities, including the acting out of a Bible story. Following this presentation, I was approached by a lady, Isabel, who professed to be a Christian who believed in the power of prayer. She requested that some of our group come to her home and pray for her husband, who was almost totally paralyzed as the result of a stroke. Bro. Darrell, Sixto, and I went to her home and prayed and talked to her. We learned that she was indeed an evangelical Christian who often attended a church in another town. Through tears she lamented the fact that there was no evangelical church in Tababela and offered to open the doors of her home to a Bible study with the hope of starting a church!
I stand in awe of how God worked through two short-term missions teams and a series of new contacts, step by step, in His own way and time, to place us in the home of perhaps the only evangelical Christian in Tababela, who opened her door to ministry in her town! I am delighted to report that three people are now meeting weekly in Isabel’s home for a Bible study led by Sixto. That number may seem insignificant to you, but to me it is huge and it is glory to God. Please pray that the Tababela Bible study will grow into a mission preaching point and eventually into a church.
Although I am most excited about Tababela, God did some awesome work through the groups and continues to work through Sixto in the other ministry sites, too. He continues to open doors of opportunity. Please pray that God will provide co-laborers to help Sixto in these locations. We appreciate all of you who continue to support our ministry with your prayers and donations. We praise the Lord for what He is doing in Ecuador and that we and you, our partners in the ministry, can be a part of it. We already have two short-term trips scheduled for next June and I am discussing possibilities with several other pastors. We plan to continue reaching out to the children through VBS and to the adults through service projects like the FBC Wellston eyeglass project, which allow us the opportunity to share the gospel. In the coming year we plan to incorporate Bible training for pastors and church leaders.
If you are interested in financially supporting either our ministry in Ecuador in general, or the construction of the church building in Guadalupe specifically, you may send tax-deductible donations to Global Outreach International, P.O. Box 1, Tupelo, MS 38802 with a note saying it is for the Prather family. May God richly bless you!