Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened this way. While his mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph, her husband to be, was a righteous man, and because he did not want to disgrace her, he intended to send her away privately. When he had contemplated this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
~The Apostle Matthew 1:18-25
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled by his words and began to wonder about the meaning of this greeting. So the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! Listen: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.” Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not had relations with a man?” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God.
~Gabriel and Mary, Luke 1:26-35
After Moses the LORD’s servant died, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant: “Moses my servant is dead. Get ready! Cross the Jordan River! Lead these people into the land which I am ready to hand over to them.
~God, Joshua 1:1-4
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 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.
Yesterday we attended Palm Sunday services. We have always loved this time of year. In the United States typically children would be employed to wave palm branches in the beginning of the service. Here in Ecuador that practice has been outlawed due to environmental concerns.
Sometimes we miss pastoring. Timothy always loved preaching especially during this season of hope! Over the years he has had the opertunity to preach many Palm Sunday messages. One of our favorite Palm Sunday services was held at the Hillside Ave. Chruch of God. Durning the sermon we considered the lowly donkey that carried our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that first Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:1-11). Timothy encouraged the church to “Be The Donkey!”
We want to encourage you today, Be The Doneky! It is commonly known that our job as believers is to be the hands and feet of Christ in this lost and dying world. In other words we are to take Jesus to wherever He wants to go.
As the Donkey of Christ we must understand three important truths.
First, we must always keep in mind that the crowds are not for us. People really do not want to see the Donkey but they desperately do want to see the Savior! Our job is to be the Donkey, not the Savior!
Second, as Donkeys, we are aware that our job is not to speak our own words or do our own ministry but to carry Christ’s words on our lips, to travel His path, and to carry out His ministry. Be the Donkey and carry Jesus to people, don’t offer your own braying!
The third truth that all Donkeys must understand is that Jesus may not want to go where we want to go. He may not want to go to where we feel safe or to where we perfer to spend our time. He may lead us into danger, or into the desert, or even into the furthest parts of the Earth! As Christ’s Donkeys we do not set our own path, we don’t have the right to do something so audacious, we go where He leads us! Be the Donkey and follow Christ’s prodding!
Today and everyday after will you join us in living life in a very specific way? Will you be the Donkey of Christ? We are His Donkey in Ecuador will you be His Donkey in your neighborhood? Will you commit to taking Jesus to where He wants to go? Remember He “Came to seek and to save that which was lost!” On our own we can seek, but we can not save! What we can do is be the Donkey! Carry to the lost and dying world the only one who can save! Let us together be the Donkey of Christ and carry Him to whom He seeks!
Ayer asistimos a los servicios del Domingo de Ramos. Siempre nos ha encantado esta época del año. En los Estados Unidos, por lo general, los niños serían empleados para agitar ramas de palma al comienzo del servicio. Aquí en Ecuador esa práctica ha sido prohibida debido a preocupaciones ambientales.
A veces extrañamos pastorear. ¡Timothy siempre amó predicar especialmente durante esta temporada de esperanza! A lo largo de los años, ha tenido la oportunidad de predicar muchos mensajes del Domingo de Ramos. Uno de nuestros servicios favoritos del Domingo de Ramos tuvo lugar en Hillside Ave. Iglesia de Dios. Durante el sermón, consideramos al humilde burro que llevó a nuestro Señor y Salvador Jesucristo ese primer Domingo de Ramos (Mateo 21: 1-11). Timoteo animó a la iglesia a “¡Sé el burro!”
Queremos alentarte hoy, Sé el Doneky! Se sabe comúnmente que nuestro trabajo como creyentes debe ser las manos y los pies de Cristo en este mundo perdido y agonizante. En otras palabras, debemos llevar a Jesús a donde quiera ir.
Como el burro de Cristo, debemos entender tres verdades importantes.
Primero, debemos tener en cuenta que las multitudes no son para nosotros. ¡La gente realmente no quiere ver al burro pero desesperadamente quiere ver al Salvador! ¡Nuestro trabajo es ser el burro, no el Salvador!
Segundo, como burros, somos conscientes de que nuestro trabajo no es hablar nuestras propias palabras o hacer nuestro propio ministerio, sino llevar las palabras de Cristo en nuestros labios, recorrer su camino y llevar a cabo su ministerio. Sé el Burro y lleva a Jesús a la gente, ¡no ofrezcas tus propios rebuznos!
La tercera verdad que todos los Burros deben entender es que Jesús puede no querer ir a donde queremos ir. Es posible que no quiera ir a donde nos sentimos seguros ni a donde preferimos pasar nuestro tiempo. ¡Él puede llevarnos al peligro, o al desierto, o incluso a las partes más lejanas de la Tierra! Como burros de Cristo no nos marcamos el camino, no tenemos el derecho de hacer algo tan audaz, ¡vamos a donde Él nos guíe! ¡Sé el burro y sigue los consejos de Cristo!
Hoy y todos los días después ¿te unirás a nosotros para vivir la vida de una manera muy específica? ¿Serás el burro de Cristo? Somos su burro en Ecuador ¿serás su burro en tu barrio? ¿Te comprometerás a llevar a Jesús a donde quiere ir? ¡Recuerda que “vino a buscar y salvar lo que se había perdido!” ¡Por nuestra cuenta podemos buscar, pero no podemos salvar! ¡Lo que podemos hacer es ser el burro! ¡Lleva al mundo perdido y moribundo al único que puede salvar! ¡Seamos juntos el burro de Cristo y lo llevemos a quien Él busca!
I (Timothy) just spent five days in Tonsupa to nail down some details for our upcoming Seminary intensive week. As I arrived in Tonsupa I had in mind many problems that needed solutions before I returned to my family in Quito. How will we feed our students? Where will they sleep? What about transportation? Can I really expect my students to focus on classes in such a tropical environment? Where is the nearest hospital? What items will we need from the Seminary building? How will we transport them to the Tonsupa church? What about security? These were just a few of the questions that were swimming around my mind.
I arrived with a plan, a good plan, a plan that had our budget and other constraints in mind. A visionary plan. And God smiled.
As I began explaining my plan to the pastor of the Tonsupa Church she listened and finally asked one simple question. “Have you considered our local Christian campgrounds?” I had not even known about thier local Christian campgrounds. After a few moments of discussion we found ourselves in my car to visit the campgrounds. What we found was a fully equipped and perfect place to house our students and hold our classes. The long list of problems melted away in the tropical heat!
I am very greatful to Brother Patricio, Sister Irma, Sister Deila, and Sister Susana for their help and guidance. Without their input I would have never seen God’s plan becuase my view would have been blocked by the details of my own plan!
I can’t help but smirk at myself and my plans sometimes. Christ is the head of the Church, he makes the plans my job is to listen and then engage His perfect plan.
May you see Christ clearly so that you can follow Him closely,
Esto es en parte parte de la confesión de alabanza.
Yo (Timoteo) acabo de pasar cinco días en Tonsupa para precisar algunos detalles para nuestra próxima semana intensiva de seminario. Cuando llegué a Tonsupa, tenía en mente muchos problemas que necesitaban soluciones antes de regresar a mi familia en Quito. ¿Cómo alimentaremos a nuestros estudiantes? ¿Dónde van a dormir? ¿Qué pasa con el transporte? ¿Realmente puedo esperar que mis alumnos se centren en clases en un ambiente tropical? ¿Dónde está el hospital más cercano? ¿Qué elementos necesitaremos del edificio del Seminario? ¿Cómo los transportaremos a la iglesia Tonsupa? ¿Qué hay de la seguridad? Estas fueron solo algunas de las preguntas que nadaban en mi mente.
Llegué con un plan, un buen plan, un plan que tenía en mente nuestro presupuesto y otras limitaciones. Un plan visionario. Y Dios sonrió.
Cuando comencé a explicar mi plan al pastor de la Iglesia de Tonsupa, ella escuchó y finalmente hizo una pregunta simple. “¿Has considerado nuestros campamentos Cristianos locales?” Ni siquiera había sabido sobre sus campamentos Cristianos locales. Después de unos momentos de discusión, nos encontramos en mi automóvil para visitar los campamentos. Lo que encontramos fue un lugar totalmente equipado y perfecto para alojar a nuestros estudiantes y realizar nuestras clases. ¡La larga lista de problemas se derritió en el calor tropical!
Le agradezco mucho al Hermano Patricio, a la Hermana Irma, a la Hermana Deila y a la Hermana Susana por su ayuda y guía. Sin su aporte, nunca hubiera visto el plan de Dios, porque mi punto de vista habría sido bloqueado por los detalles de mi propio plan.
No puedo evitar sonreírme a mí misma y a mis planes a veces. Cristo es el jefe de la Iglesia, él hace los planes de mi trabajo es escuchar y luego comprometerse con su plan perfecto.
Que veas a Cristo claramente para que puedas seguirlo de cerca,
Para apoyar a nuestros Pastores y Líderes de la Iglesia mediante la donación a nuestro fondo del Seminario, ¡haga clic aquí!