Tag: Global Strategy

Christmas Devotions: The Voice

A man came, sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that everyone might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. But to all who have received him – those who believe in his name – he has given the right to become God’s children – children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God.
~The Apostle John, John 1:6-13

A deep Christian thinker once said: “preach the Gospel always, use words when necessary.” I am sure the intention of this thinker was Continue reading “Christmas Devotions: The Voice”

Success!

We tried something different and…. it was a success!35F815A9-755D-42C2-A278-F22816FA7E29

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.

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Pastor Rodrigo teaching Christian Ethics.
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Pastor Luis teaching Homiletics.
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Pastor Jorge teaching Life Stewardship.
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Pastor Paula teaching Hermeneutics.
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Pastor Patricio Teaching Evangelism.
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Pastor Pol teaching the Book of John
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Pastor Katita Preaching.
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Sister (future Pastor?) Veronica sharing during worship.
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Pastor Delia Praying before her Focus on Tonsupa class.

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!

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Our students this year!

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!

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Pastor Jorge Palacio from Pennsylvania helped expand our class options by teaching Leadership Development.

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!

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This year we were blessed to host visiting Missionary Abby Torgeson teaching Biblical Sexuality.

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!

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Doctor Eric and Doctor Bonnie Newell helping attract new students by co-teaching Christian Education.

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.

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The students are eager to employ their new 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!

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Pastor Paula and Pastor Delia both taught and studied in this year at the Seminary intensive!

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!

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Young Church leaders preparing for Christian service!

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 prayers, your donations and your voice. Together we can make a significant difference in the lives of our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters!

With much love,4DDAB047-130A-45DD-8E15-8CA9B1EE26D6    The Downings,

(also pictured, Bonnie and Eric Newell, and Abby Torgeson)

Heart Broken

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. 

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Our hearts break for families separated!

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. 

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Tweets can be somewhat simplistic.

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.

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We call on people seeking asylum in the U.S. to do so at a legal point of entry so that their kids will not be separated from them!

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. 

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Illegal immigration detention center with families separated under President Obama’s administration.

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. 

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Illegal immigration detention center with families separated under President Trump’s administration.
  • 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 

With much love,604EB03F-B078-43A5-B884-D0129A13D6BBThe Downings

Going Down to The River

This week we had the privilege of visiting with our Brothers and Sisters in Tonsupa. There are two works of the Church of God near Tonsupa. One is the Church whose building was destroyed during a very large earthquake in 2016. We had the honor of joining them for a baptism service. The following video gives a good look at the temporary Church building and the Church in a bus waiting to go to the Esmeraldas river for a baptism service.

The other work is a Children’s outreach in nearby Piedra Fina (fine rocks). We taught the youth group on their Saturday meeting at Piedra Fina. We spoke about the Baptism of Jesus. We muddled our way through our Spanish language lesson but we were blessed for having the opportunity. (Are you looking for a way to pray for us specifically? You can pray for our language learning. We need to speak better Spanish).

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After our class time with the young people at Piedra Fina we had the opportunity to spend some good quality time with Pastor Deila and Sister Susana. Pastor Deila is a dear Sister in Christ whom we have admired over the years from afar. We are now very excited to admire her from up close!IMG_1671 Later on Saturday we drove to the beachfront in nearby Atacames to find a place to eat dinner. Many people have asked us about driving in Ecuador so here is a video of a short typical city drive. The highways are better but have different obstacles. We will post some more diving videos in future updates for those who are interested.    The next day we met the Church at their temporary building and traveled to the Esmeraldas river for a Baptism service. Timothy was asked to officiate the Baptisms because the Brothers being Baptized were too big for Pastor Deila to handle. The Baptism day lasted around four hours and included a worship service, much prayer, Baptisms, fun, food, and friends.

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The worship service was beautiful in every way. One of Timothy’s Seminary students preached and she gave a fantastic sermon!

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The Church gave us tunics and invited us to the river.

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The Baptism of Marco Sr.

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The Baptism of Marco Jr. This year Marco Jr. will attend his first year of Seminary.

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The Baptism of Abraham. You might recognize him from earlier pictures at Piedra Fina.

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Hugs all around!
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Thinking about the significance of what just happened.
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In Ecuador once you are Baptized you are expected be use your gifts and talents in the context of the Church. We welcome the newly Baptized leaders in the Tonsupa Church.
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Pastor Deila answering questions from our cowboy visitor after the Baptism.

After the Baptisms the Church began to play together!

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Then we ate together!

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A Church that plays together stays together!

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Friends, as always we want to communicate to you how joyful we are to be an extension of your ministry in Ecuador. We know that some of you who are avid readers of our updates will someday visit us, but for those who will not have that opportunity we are blessed to be your hands and feet here in Ecuador. If you are already a prayer supporter and you keep up with our posts and you would like to help us financially please click here. We just received our updated budget from Global Strategy and we need several additional supporters to keep us on the field. Would you please consider supporting us at $15, $25, $50 or $75 per month? Your help is greatly needed and appreciated.

Love,dsc04854The Downings

Involvement

What is your involvement in missions?  What do you do to make sure that God’s redemption is known to all who need it?  Below is a short devotion taken from our forthcoming devotional book.  We sincerely hope it gives you encouragement today.

 

Not every believer has the missionary gift, but every Christian is called to some kind of involvement in missions. We are called to advance the gospel in some way and to participate in the fulfilling of God’s purposes in our generation.
-David Shibley

In Acts Chapter One Jesus tells his original disciples that upon the advent of the Holy Spirit, they will be witnesses of his resurrection in four spheres of their lives.  They were to bare witness in Jerusalem, the place they lived, Judea, the place they felt most comfortable, Samaria, where they would be uncomfortable and forced to deal the their own prejudices, and to the ends of the Earth, a place that would require increasing effort to reach.  These same spheres of witness exist for us- the current generation of Christ’s disciples.  We are responsible to ensure that the message of Christ’s resurrection is proclaimed in all four spheres.  Jesus did not come to make bad people good or sick people well, although he does do that, ultimately Jesus makes dead people live!  

May the message of the resurrection ever be on our lips and may we never neglect the spheres of witness that we have been granted.  

In His grip,

The Downings

(To financially support or join our ministry please click here.  Thanks!)

Change And Fluidity

We are all in a constant state of flux, some of us know it.

Our family is currently traveling back home after two months on the road.  We eagerly  await the familiar surroundings of home.  Even though our concept of home is dramatically changing as we wrote about Here.  Our lives right now, by necessity, are rather fluid.  That state of flux which we all share is a little more focused for us since early spring when we started traveling full time.

Change always entails a mixture of loss and opportunity.  We choose to focus more on the opportunity than the loss.  Our family is experiencing a new sense of both as we found out last week that we have reached 86% of our living link budget.  Somehow that mile marker has both energized and terrified us.  Change is coming.  Soon we will be buying plane tickets and finalizing housing arrangements, enrolling in language school, packing up our belongings and saying our final goodbyes.  Exciting.  Terrifying.  Happy.  Sad.  Full of hope.  Full of uncertainty.  -Change.

We are ready to embrace the significant change that comes with leaving our homeland and starting anew in an unfamiliar culture.  We are also embracing the changes that are happening at home.  Our sending organization the Church of God with headquarters in Anderson, Indiana is going through some major changes.  Here is a video explaining some of them.

What great opportunity to connect your passion with the hands and feet of Christ.

If you would like to connect your passions with ours just click on the family picture below and you can become a living link partner with us.  Together we can do much more than we could alone.

In in His Grip,

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The Downings