The humidity was thick but the joy was palpable as we walked through the doors of the Quevedo church.
Quevedo is one of the most important agricultural centers of Ecuador and is the geographical point where all major roads in the region (including the Pan-American highway) intersect. The area surrounding Quevedo mainly produce bananas, corn, rice, and soybeans. The soils in the region generate excellent harvests year-round. Many banana producers complement their banana plantations with fields that produce corn, soy and rice during the rainy season.
The church in Quevedo if full of friendly faces and dedicated believers. They are firmly planted in the thriving agriculture community. They are a light in a dark place as well. We could not help but notice a large number of brothels and night clubs in the area.
Please pray for our brothers and sisters as they shine the light in the darkness and witness for Christ.
Recently we had the joy of visiting the church of Pisambilla for a baby dedication.
Timothy was invited to dedicate Samara the daughter of Gloria, one of his seminary students. Gloria is also the daughter of Pastor Carlos.
Here is a short podcast about this wonderful experience.
In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 we read: “Listen, Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You must lovethe LORD your God with your whole mind, your whole being, and all your strength. These words I am commanding you today must be kept in mind, and you must teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up. You should tie them as a reminder on your forearm and fasten them as symbols on your forehead. Inscribe them on the door frames of your houses and gates.”
This scripture is very important especially as we think about how to raise a child in a manner dedicated to God.
Deuteronomy teaches us that God is unique, the only one worthy of worship! The scripture teaches us that our attitude toward God is to be one of love. Love through thought (intellect, creativity), Love through body and spirit (our whole being), and Love through work (strength).
This is a Quechua hymn called Cuya Tayta Diolla. We love hearing our brothers and sisters sing in this beautiful language!
The scripture then instructs us that this truth is to be taught to our children. We are to teach our children to love God as we sit in our house.This means that our home must be a home focused on God’s truth. Both naturally and intentionally we raise our kids in an atmosphere of faith at home.
We see Pastor Carlos raising his children in a home filed with faith. We know that Gloria will raise Samara in the same atmosphere.
We are to instruct our children in the ways of faith as we walk along the road. Notice the contrast between the home and the road. At home we are supposed to be protected, safe, and free to be most ourself. The message of faith in the home is unified. The road is different. In the road we encounter the dangers of life, difficult people, and confusing thoughts. The road is where our faith is tested. The Scripture says that we are to teach our children in this challenging atmosphere as well. We are to guide them through the troubles in the life. We are to walk with them on the paths they choose to walk. We are to teach our children in the safety of our homes and also in the vulnerability of the road.
This Scripture then goes on to speak of another instance in which we are to instruct our children in the way of faith. We are to remind our children as we lie down and as we get up. This means that our day is to be spent in a manner that brings our kids into a living relationship with God our Father. In every situation during the day we have a choice, we can either act and react in a way that brings our kids into a deeper relationship with God or in a way that drives our kids away from the loving arms of our Savior. A measured and Christ entered response to life’s daily issues teaches our children the way of faith. We must try to act and react in godly ways to all of life’s problems both extraordinary and mundane.
We often rise to the occasion when the extraordinary occurs but consistency in the mundane is what prepares us for the extraordinary.
This Scripture then goes on to tell us to make physical reminders of the truth. That’s because we are both a physical and spiritual creation. Sometimes we need to make physical reminders of spiritual truths. We should find a physical reminder of our faith. We should connect the spiritual truth that we teach our children with physical reminders of that truth. This is what Jesus did when he taught.
This Scripture concludes with the instruction to write the truth on your door and gate. Door frames and gates are the part of the home that the community sees. What the Bible is teaching is that we are to be a witness to the community. As parents we have a lot of influence on our children the community we live in also shapes our children’s thoughts and actions. This is why we take every opportunity to share our faith with our neighbors. Our witness is to shine inside and outside of our homes, our witness should help shape the spiritual atmosphere in which our children will grow up.
What does your community see from the outside looking in?
Jesus quotes these verses and joins them with Leviticus 19:18 in Matthew 22:37-40.
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”Jesussaid to him, “‘ Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind .’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘ Love your neighbor as yourself .’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Loved ones, the same Jesus Christ who invited The children to come to him invites us to live in Divine love. Allow me to encourage you, love God, love others, live accordingly so that Our Children can see and believe.
Due to the nature of our ministry here we are invited to many special events in the life of the Church. From marriage celebrations, Church Anniversaries, Children’s programs and baptisms we are honored to walk along side our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters.
Recently we had the privilege of participating in the baptism celebration of the Roldos Church. The Roldos neighborhood is perched high on a hill in the northern part of Quito. The neighborhood is densely populated and there is no river flowing through it. So, the Church took a day and visited a river near Nanegalito in the jungle.
Our National President (of the Iglesia de Dios Reformada), Pastor Patricio officiated the baptisms.
One of the ministries we are honored to be a part of is the Children of Promise sponsorship program. We help facilitate the relationship between our Children and their sponsors (padrinos). Currently that is over ninety relationships!
This year we celebrated Christmas with several churches and their Children of Promise. We wish we could have celebrated with all of our COP churches. We represented the padrinos at each celebration. What the kids wanted to say to their supporters, they said to us. It was an honor. We also gave greetings and presents on behalf of the padrinos.
One of the pure joys we experienced this Christmas was the reply to a simple question that we asked each child. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Each child, no matter their age had a goal that they were working toward! What happens when the same question is asked of a child not in our program? The results vary but most kids here do not have a plan, but most kids here don’t have a padrino who mentors and encourages them through their correspondence.
Baptisms are amazing. Not only are they a significant event and act of obedience for the believers involved but they are also a significant testimony for all who witness the public event.
We were honored to be invited to the Mount of Olives’ recent baptism service. They held it at a National Park named Bosque Protector Jerusalem. We met under the shade of some trees near a public swimming pool.
The atmosphere of this service struck us as very appropriate. We sang and heard the Word of God proclaimed to the background noises of families enjoying themselves at the park. From time to time a curious onlooker would stop what they were doing and hear a song, or listen to the preaching. After we worshiped together we turned our attention to the pool which was already quite busy with aquatic activity.
As we entered the refreshing water, families ceased their diversions and watched intently as we baptized six new believers.
Timothy was overjoyed when he was asked to help with the baptisms. Pastor Luis baptized the new believers and Timothy gave each a private word of encouragement.
After the baptisms we lingered in the pool a little longer for prayer.
When we said “Amen” the pool filled up with activity once again!
Those who simply came to the park intending nothing more than a fun day in the sun received something greater. They received the testimony of the new believers who were baptized. They received the Gospel in action. It makes us want to abandon our buildings and hold public worship every week!
With much love, The Downings
We trust in the international community of Christ to pray for, encourage and fund the ministry we have been given. Would you like to join our effort? Click here for our contact info.
During our recent Caring Partners International medical mission trip we had an unexpected connection with one of our visitors. Donna Cox and Timothy graduated from the same rural high school. They had both been educated at Preble Shawnee where the largest social club was the Future Farmers of America followed by 4H. Rural values and rural focus were the norms. It was in that rural crucible that God prepared both of them to help address big city problems. Timothy now lives in the greater Quito, Ecuador metropolis where he helps prepare pastors and church leaders to serve in that significant city and beyond. Donna, a licensed professional counselor with a private counseling practice in Dayton, Ohio spends much of her time in adult entertainment clubs ministering to the entertainers who work there. Far away from 4H presentations at the Preble County fair and the farm smells of the Preble Counthy Pork Festival both Donna and Timothy find themselves drawn to different big cities.
As we ate lunch one day during the CPI trip Donna approached us with an idea. She said: “I have an odd request. Can we tour Quito’s red light district today?” The request was a bit odd. But we soon found out that in addition to her own ministry interest in such places, a Sister from the Comite del Pueblo church has a passion for the same kind of ministry!
It was a pure joy to hear Donna and her Ecuadorian counterpart discuss the particular kind of ministry passion that they share. What an encouragement for our Sister to meet someone involved in the very ministry that God had laid on her heart!
We have a quick question for you in light of the common churchcentric view of ministry that is so prevalent today. Where are you going? Where is your church going? Biblically we really are called to go to all people everywhere not simply to invite some into our churches. Are you going? Your witness is very important in the place you live, in the places you feel comfortable, in the uncomfortable places and even to the ends of the Earth! Where are you going? To whom are you going?
Our encouragement for you today is to follow the incarnational ministry pattern of Jesus. Don’t play it safe, He didn’t. He surrounded himself with some of the most religious people but he also intentionally called people to himself in whom no one would expect the Holy One of God to have interest. Even among His closest followers, His Disciples He welcomed people who were natural enemies, a tax collector and a zealot alike. One thing that every follower of Christ has in common is our Savior the one thing that all people everywhere have in common is a need for our Savior.
If you are a follower of Christ you are privileged to have a godly treasure inside you. You also have a responsibility to give that treasure of God’s grace to those around you who have not yet experienced the love of God as you have. So, no matter if you find yourself in the animal barns of the Preble county fairgrounds in Eaton, Ohio, the dressing room of an adult entertainment club or anywhere in between, go unto all the world and share the Good news of Jesus Christ our Savior with everyone you meet!
Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Right after our Seminary intensive week, we were privileged to participate in a baptism service of a new work. This new work baptized its first six believers. We are honored to be working with believers who are continually taking steps to fulfill the Great Comission.
The Baptism service began in the Tonsupa Church building with worship and a wonderful sermon by Rev. Dr. Eric Newell, interpreted by Missionary Abby Torgeson.
After Worshipping God through song and sermon we traveled a short way to a hotel owned by someone connected to the Church.
Each Baptism participant gave their favorite Scripture, testified and were baptized as the Congregation sang their favorite hymn.
Brother Segundo Ricardo Sislema Ortega testified: “before meeting Jesus I was very unhappy due to alcoholism. I slept in the streets, I had quarrels with my children and mistreated my wife. Today I have decided because of Jesus I will be another person. I am already happy because Jesus in in my life. Amen!”
Sister Marcia Paulina Lluglluna Farinango testified: “Before, I was a person who did not want to love God or do his will. I had very little patience with my son. I had a lot of bitterness in my heart. I was an idolatrous person. I had a bad character. I did not forgive anything and I was spiteful. Since I met God I changed my life. I am a new person. A loving person above all with my son. Now I am a patient person. I can forgive. I want to know God more and do his will every day. But above all, now I know that there is only one God and this is my Lord Jesus Christ!”
Sister Erika Maribel Salgado Rodriguez testified: “I have always had the happiness of having people of great faith who love me and are always praying for me and my family. That always kept me full of blessings and I felt like it also covered my faults before God in some way. I was not missing anything. I thought my life was eternal and that nothing would happen to me. I presumed to have what everyone longs for; health, money and love. I was the black sheep of the family, the ungrateful daughter who only remembered God when I needed him. I had many problems that only the power of God could give strength to my heart. Then I got sick and had to go to the hospital, this taught me that life is short and that time passes so fast. It was time to obey God! Today with all my faith I am baptized knowing that my Christ gave His life for me and that He gives me the opportunity to obey his mandate. And to live under His wings because He has the best for me. Amen!”
Sister Eliana Daniela Chilama Churta testified: “I thank God for allowing me to share my experience. My family and I were Catholics and I had a bad temper that I could not change. At the death of my grandmother there were problems in my family and I thought there was no solution. Then it happened that my mother was invited to a small group in the house of Katia Salgado that was held on Wednesdays. And I went too. It was there I first heard the Word of the Lord. My faith began and I grew until the Lord opened my eyes completely. It was a fact that strengthened my faith. One day I left early in the morning to go to the the bus stop. Two men came out of the shadows to attack me but God protected me. I realized that Christ dwells in me. He is my defender and He is my guarantor of all peace and joy. I am baptized for the love of Christ. Amen!”
Sister Carmen Amanda Zhunio testified: “I want to thank You my God for freeing me. Before I knew You I lived on the path of perdition. I understand that You called me through Your Word. I want to be in Your presence, my God, and leave everything behind and start a new life with You Father of Heaven. You taught me to forgive and feed on Your Word more and more. Amen!”
After being blessed by the baptisms and testimonies we were further blessed with Lunch at Pastor Delia’s home.
We are happy to be part of Christ’s work in Ecuador. We love that you, dear reader, are supporting the ministry here through your prayers and encouragement! Please take some time today and pray for these new believers.
With much love,The Downings
(We are in need of a few more financial supporters to read more about our ministry please click here. Thanks!)
We tried something different and…. it was a success!
Each year the Church of God Seminary in Ecuador offers a week long intensive to help train leaders in the Ecuadorian Church. This year we expanded the reach of the Seminary by offering more class options, moving to a more spacious location, and including more Ecuadorian leadership.
Sister Delia Praying before her Focuse on Tonsupa class.
Veronica sharing during worship.
Pastor Patricio Teaching Evangelism.
Pastor Paula teaching Herminutics.
Pastor Jorge teaching Life Stewardship.
Pastor Luis teaching Homiletics.
Pastor Rodrigo teaching Christian Ethics.
Pastor Pol teaching the Book of John
Last year we had a total of twenty-five participants with one international student. This year we had seventy-six participants with several international students!
Last year we offered five classes for the edification of the students. This year we were able to offer ten classes and a writing seminar!
Last year two Pastors from outside the Church of God and the Missionary taught classes. This year Seven classes were taught by our Ecuadorian Pastors, three were taught by Visiting Professors and the writing seminar was taught by the Missionary!
Last year we held classes at the Seminary building in Quito. (We are blessed to have such a wonderful building but it could not have housed all of our students this year). We were able to hold classes at a campground that could have facilitated double the number of students!
Last year the student surveys evaluated the classes as valuable but somewhat lacking. This year the surveys and comments were overwhelmingly positive.
Perhaps the best indicator that this year was a success is the feedback we have already received about the students from their Pastors. This year the students returned to their Churches excited and willing to employ their newly acquired knowledge in their Churches.
Of course all of the many successes of this year were build on the firm foundation of years past. For many years Missionaries like Jon and Karen Lambert, Gregory and Linda Robertson, Jonny and Paula Snyder, Karvin and Sandy Adams, and Narciso and Udelia Zamora developed the Seminary program. In addition to so many dedicated Missionaries countless visiting Professors have poured their time talent and treasure into developing our Seminary program. It is on the shoulders of so many great leaders that we were able to achieve such a wonderful success this year!
If you donated this year to the Seminary project you where a major part of our success! By faith we planned something bigger than we have ever attempted before, trusting that God would provide the funds through His faithful Church. Your gifts added to the sacrificial giving of the Ecuadorian Church is what funded this vital Ministry! We already have a team working on the next two year’s Seminary intensive weeks and we have already received some much needed prayer and financial support. Will you join us? We need your prayers and your donations to ensure the future success of the Seminary program! We have big plans for the future but we can only reach them with your help. To donate to our Seminary fund please click here!
Since we are already asking for your support could we ask for your help in one more important way? We need you to lend us your voice! Will you please take some time and share this success story with your Pastor and Missions committee? Will you please advocate for your church to get involved in this Great Commission ministry? We need you, your prays, your donations and your voice. Together we can make a significant difference in the lives of our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters!
We love books. We love reading good books. We love writing books. We love giving books away! The right book given to the right person at the right time will not only change the life of the recipient but also the lives of the people whom the recipient connects with.
A little confession: Somewhere in the basement of Cordell and Darlene Downing’s house in Ohio are stacks of boxes filled with books. Books that we could not fit into our suitcases when we moved to Ecuador. Our books take up a full one half of Timothy’s parent’s basement….we also have a full storage building full of books!
We hope one day to reclaim many of those beloved volumes. Especially Timothy’s collection of old Church of God writings.
This year at the Seminary intensive we are delighted to give our students a plethora of good books. We have spent the year collecting books and one Church donated significantly to purchase books that will help our Church leaders in various ways.
Are you a librophile? If you believe in the transformative power of good books like we do, we have a wounderful opportunity for you! Will you please help us be able to continue giving life changing books to our brothers and sisters who are in ministry here in Ecuador? We need you to click here and donate $5, $10, $20 (or more) to our Seminary fund. This will ensure that we can keep doing this worthy ministry!
Friends, we love representing you in your extended ministry to Ecuador. We love being the hands and feet of Christ’s Body here just as you are His hands and feet where you live. Thank you for supporting , praying and encouraging us along the way!