We eagerly await the day when all things are made new! Today’s ministry story happened during the first year of our ministry here. We invite you to journey with us through this difficult ministry encounter. Be prepared to be touched by this sad story.
We recently had the joy of attending the graduation dinner for our friend Jonatan.
Jonatan was a Child Of Promise. He grew up in the Santa Clara Church and his family has been active in that ministry for many years. Somewhere we even have an old photograph (non-digital) of a young Timothy and Jonatan’s father taken during one of Timothy’s youthful visits.
Thanks to the love and encouragement of his Family, Church, former missionary and Children of Promise director Karen Lambert and of course his Sponsor he has now earned an engineering degree and has even invented a machine that makes fertilizer pellets!
Jonatan is a sharp young man, a very hard worker and has a bright future ahead of him.
Jonatan’s Children of Promise sponsor is unique because they continued their encouragement and financial support well beyond their original commitment. Sometimes when you connect through COP you make life long friendships!
Angelita and I love how Jonatan’s story has turned out so far and we look forward to walking alongside all of our Children of Promise on whatever adventures may come!
We are always amazed by the generosity of our supporters! We know that many of you are actively looking for opportunities to make a positive difference in this world. Many of you have asked about needs in our ministry here in Ecuador. With that in mind we want to introduce Jean to you.
Jean is one of our Children of Promise kids who are currently waiting for a sponsor. He lives in a small costal town and is an active member of the church there.
Jean is in 7th grade and his favorite subjects are Math and Natural Science. He has one brother and one sister and along with them he lives with his Mom and Dad in a three room house made of cement and zinc roofing. There is water, electricity, and a latrine at the house. Assistance is needed for Jean’s school fees and basic necessities.
Jean has a bright future and we invite you, your family, your Sunday school, your small group or your church to become part of his life.
For just $38 dollars a month you can partner with Jean through Children of Promise and our ministry. You can help mentor him through your letters and your monthly donation will help him succeed educationally.
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.
We see them. We see the gripping photos of children and parents separated from each other on the U.S. southern border. Our hearts are broken. We also hear the political arguments and the unhelpful moral grandstanding.
We see the social media posts, some from truly thoughtful people and some from people who seem highly concerned with this issue until the next election cycle. In the public discourse we see the depths of compassion juxtaposed with the glibness of scoring cheap political points.
We read powerful and often one sided reporting. We hear people who are involved in Christian organizations state that the only Christ-like position on this issue is to oppose this practice and insure that families get to stay together.
We are missionaries with great compassion for those who want nothing more than hope and opportunity for their children. We are serving alongside a movement of believers who have decided that we will be part of the solution to sex slavery and all forms of modern slavery and human trafficking. It is through this lens that we examine the border situation.
We do need to take a stand on this practice of separation but it is an issue that we have found conflicting. It is not simple! We do not want to see parents and children separated. However, if the parents in question are not using a passport or other documents to prove that the children who are with them are indeed theirs, separation seems to be the only safe alternative for the children. Why would we think this, especially when there is a tidal wave of people who are against this practice. Because we are very familiar with the numbers.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports the percentage of child trafficking victims has risen dramatically in the last several years.
Of every three child victims, two are girls and one is a boy.
The gender and age profile of victims globally is 59% Women – 14% Men – 17% Girls and 10% Boys.
600,000 to 800,000 women, children and men are bought and sold across international borders every year and exploited for forced labor or commercial sex according to the U.S. Government.
When internal trafficking victims are added to the estimates, the number of victims annually is in the range of 2 to 4 million.
50% of those victims are estimated to be children.
2 million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade according to UNICEF.
There are 1.5 Million human trafficking victims in the United States.
Revenue from human trafficking has surpassed the illegal sale of drugs. (Drugs are used once and they are gone. Victims of child trafficking can be used and abused repeatedly).
The $32 billion-a-year industry of human trafficking is on the rise and is in all 50 states according to the U.S. Government.
4.5 Million of trafficked persons are sexually exploited.
The average life expectancy of an underaged traffic victim is 4 to 7 horrific years. (The most common means of death for these victims is suicide, abuse and untreated STDs).
These are statistics from 2012, the year we first began to look into this issue.
Modern day slavery is real! The southern border of the United States is a major human trafficking corridor. Perhaps the responsible thing to do on the U.S. border is to separate minors from adults when they enter without documentation until it can be established that the adults are actually parents and the children are not actually victims.
We post these thoughts knowing that the knee-jerk reaction for many will be to filter these things through the lens of their political leanings. We ask that you, dear reader, resist this temptation. We know that this topic is fraught with politics but we have tried to warn about something more important than politics, modern day slavery.
The one political statement we will make is this: Unfortunately, we will have to leave it up to our politicians to come up with a humane way to keep families together while at the same time protecting the nearly unbelievable numbers of victims being trafficked at the borders. Although we have little faith in politicians from either side of the isle to be able to act in the interest of anyone but themselves. The power that we do have it to apply pressure on our elected officials to put aside the hatred that they hold for the opposite party and actually do something to protect the children who are caught up in the dangerous situation at the U.S. border.
Today is June 19. Juneteenth. It is the day that we celebrate the end of the U.S. Civil War and the emancipation of all slaves in the U.S. The end of the stain of America’s original sin of slavery. We work diligently for the end of modern slavery, and we hope to see the end of human trafficking and sex slavery in our lifetime!
What Can You Do?
You can help us fight human trafficking before it begins, ensuring a child has opportunities by becoming a Child of Promise supporter. This is the organization that we are involved with because it goes beyond providing a child with financial support, it gives you the opportunity to speak into the life of a child through letter exchanges. You can be a supporting voice in the life of a deserving child! We also love that this program joins children with the local church, giving them a group of believers to help them along in life. You can click here to check out the Children of Promise website for further details.
This week we had the honor of visiting with our brothers and sisters in the Sucumbios Province. The Sucumbios Province is located in the Oriente and borders both Colombia and Peru. It is a jungle Province. We were delighted to be able to visit both the Lumbaqui and the Amazones Churches.
The Lumbaqui Church.
The Amazones Church.
We loved meeting the Children of Promise in Lumbaqui. (If you would like to support a child here in Ecuador please call the Children of Promise office at 1.765.648.2190 and ask for information about kids in Ecuador).
The purpose of our recent trips is multifaceted. We need to spend quality time with our Pastors and church leaders to get to know them and their families. We also want to meet as many of our Children of Promise kids as possible we want to know them and pray for them. It is important for us to enter into the lives of our new friends on their terms and in their context. During this trip we had a wonderful opportunity to spend much time with the pastor and many of the leaders in the two churches. We were even taken to into the Jungle to experience some fun with our brothers and sisters.
One aspect of our journeys that we should share is the road there. Driving can get mundane but in Ecuador driving requires hyper awareness. You never know when you might encounter a bus passing another bus on a blind mountain curve or a damaged road or a pedestrian. This trip went well we only had to stop at one police check point!
We were blessed beyond measure during our visit to the jungle the hospitality and love we experienced provides for a firm foundation for lasting relationships.
Once again we are proud to be Christ’s hands and feet here in Ecuador. If you would like to learn more about us or join our support team please click here.
We had the privilege of attending the El Carmen church for Father’s Day last Sunday. Pastor Jorge preached an excellent sermon about fatherhood. It was the kind of sermon that spawned further thought throughout the week. It prompted us to think beyond the typical Father’s Day rhetoric to some deep theological truths. We love sermons like that! Part of what made pastor Jorge’s sermon so thought invoking was the context in which it was delivered. A kid enrolled in the Children of Promise sponsorship program in the El Carmen church lost his father two weeks ago. We had spent some time crying with the family in their time of mourning. We had heard how they couldn’t even bury their loved one until they secured enough loans and donations from friends and family to be able to pay for a grave plot. Until enough money was raised this child’s father lay in wait in their living room for several days. It was in light of the pain of loss and conspicuous absence of this father that pastor Jorge’s words invoked in us a sense of peace that there is a Heavenly Father who will never be separated from us by the ghastly spectacle of death.
The two complementary themes of adoption and fatherhood are quite illuminating in Christian theology. The theme of adoption elucidates the position of men and women once adrift in sin, separated from God through actions of our own and of our forefathers, now grafted into God’s family. Through adoption we who were lost and are now found call the Creator God by the most endearing term, “Father.” In fact through the Biblical language of adoption we are encouraged to view God not only in terms of the sometimes generic and distant “father” but in the warm familiar “Abba,” a word that invites closeness and intimacy. Abba is in fact the way that Jesus addressed God in his hour of need in Mark 14:36.
“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will. ~Mark 14:36
The Apostle Paul picks up the Divine Fatherhood and adoption theme in both Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6.
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father. ~Romans 8:15
Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” ~Galatians 4:6
Whereas the theme of adoption illuminates our position before God, the theme of God’s fatherhood illustrates His character. Jesus is reveled in Scripture as the Son of God and through belief, (not mere mental credence but life changing understanding), in him we become children of God as well. We are born “not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” ~John 1:13.
God’s love is fundamentally too grand for us to understand or even imagine. But the love of a father makes God’s care and forgiveness concrete.
In Luke 15:11-32 Jesus tells a story that is esteemed as the best literary work in the western world. It reveals deep truths about God’s love when understood as Jesus’ original audience would have understood it.
A rich man had two sons, his younger son asked the father to divide the expected inheritance between him and his brother. Immediately, this would have horrified Jesus’ original hearers because the son was essentially saying he wished his father would die! The younger son should be disgraced, disowned, even killed for such behavior; the father’s honor should have been restored.
But instead of restoring his honor the father honors the request, and the selfish son abandons the family with his portion of the inheritance. While sojourning in a foreign land, the son squanders his inheritance, becomes poor, ends up taking a job feeding pigs, and even hungers for the food they eat. He finally decides to return home, and ask his father to accept him as a servant because he realizes he is no longer worthy to be a son.
As the son is still a long way off, his father who was apparently watching against all hope for his lost son to return, runs to him. Jesus’ audience would be astonished at this. In the first century culture at that time, it was considered undignified for an elderly man to run, because he would have to tuck his robe into his belt, exposing his legs (and a bit more).
The father is so elated to see his son that he embraces public disgrace and humiliation in order to welcome him home. And all of this for the selfish son who dishonored him and wished him dead! But the father isn’t finished. Before the son can finish reciting his rehearsed repentance speech asking to be made a servant in his father’s household the father orders the immediate restoration of his son and a celebration to be held in his honor. He then puts a ring on his finger giving him not just acceptance but also authority.
The portrait of God as loving father is revolutionary both to Christ’s original audience and to us! How deep the father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He would send His only Son to make a wretch His treasure!
In this lost and broken world good fathers are sometimes hard to find. Thank God for good fathers, and thank Him doubly that He Himself is The Good Father!
If you would like to help support us as we minister in Ecuador please click here and check out our new bio and donation page. We could use your help staying on the field!
The naturalist and poet Alexander Von Humboldt wrote: “Ecuadorians are strange and unique beings: they sleep peacefully surrounded by roaring volcanoes, they live poor among incomparable riches and they become happy listening to sad music.”
Our Calling is drawing us to Quito, Ecuador where we will work with disadvantaged children through the Children of Promise ministry. We will also work with the Church of God Seminary, training leaders and church workers. Quito is a significant city with a population of three million people in the city proper. It is surrounded by five active volcanoes and has crime and poverty rates that are at a critical level. It is a city that looks like a quintessential mission field, filled with people living in peril and looking for answers.
One question that we find ourselves answering on a regular basis is: “Is it safe to move your family to Ecuador?” We always appreciate that question. It is good to know people care. Our answer may not satisfy the questioner but it is both historically and theologically sound. When asked about the safety of being a follower of Christ we can’t help but question the question. It seems that recently in American Christianity the idea that God cares primarily about our safety has replaced the idea that God is willing to risk it all on behalf of a lost and dying world (see Luke Chapter 15).
The prosperity gospel of God wanting nothing but the comfort and safety of His disciples opens itself up for failure as soon as the adherent to such a gospel finds themselves in a difficult situation. A cosmic score card develops in the minds of people who are convinced that God would never call His people into suffering. “God gave me a good parking spot, I must be doing good.” “God let my house be robed, I must have displeased Him.”
Far from the hollow promises of the false gospel of safety we see a true comfort in the face of adversity in the words of Christ. “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Following Christ is not a recipe to avoid hardship but it is a way of facing the difficulties of life with the assurance that we are not alone. Furthermore, by God’s grace, when we walk with Christ in his mission on this side of heaven we will continue to walk with him throughout eternity.
For us the question is not “is it safe” but “is this where Christ is leading us?” Our view is eternal, we are not alone, we are not afraid, we are safe and secure in Christ’s everlasting arms, even if there is an angry giant near by.
A missionary who traveled to Ecuador before us once said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
So, as Mt. Cotopaxi threatens the over 325,000 Ecuadorians who live in its shadow we desire to be among them offering eternal hope!
We are enjoying our last week of missionary training at the Hunger Education and Resource Training school. We are living without our normal internet access. A scary thought for a household of millennials and gen-xers! Next week we will be able to update you on our experience but for now please enjoy the sixth session in the teaching series The Commands of Christ.
We hope the series so far has been a blessing to you. If it has please share it with a friend.
If you would like to contribute to our ministry to “little ones” (the children of promise in Ecuador) please click on the photo below.
Human trafficking is the most prevalent form of modern-day slavery. The U.S. Government estimates that world wide, over 700,000 people are trafficked across borders each year. In our own country between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. yearly (mostly women and children to be used in the sex trade). In fact, human trafficking is now tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world and it is also the fastest growing criminal industry.
So what do we do? Should we pray? Give money? Or find ways to change hearts? We should absolutely pray but major social issues are not solved with prayer alone (God acts through His people). We have seen the both benefit and the ineffectiveness that money brings. It would be regrettable to simply give money to an anti-human trafficking charity and think we have really done our part. This problem is only truly solved by redemption. As Christians we must cast the light of the Gospel onto the hearts of men and women in order to affect true lasting change. Human trafficking can not simply be legislated away like racial slavery, it demands a different kind of abolitionist. In Christ we find the answer not only to this problem but to all problems caused by the unrepentant human heart.