Sharon and I have completed our first ministry trip with Generations International Ministry and are thrilled to be able to report to you that it was a total success. Because the plane fare was paid for by the BBFI mission office, it was our final Mission Office activity. We are grateful to my former boss, Jon Konnerup, for agreeing to cover this expense. Most of the other expenses were covered by our brothers and sisters in Colombia and Ecuador.
The purpose of this trip was to connect with ministry leaders in Colombia and Ecuador, whose ministries could be strengthened through Generations International. We left Springfield on October 28, returning on December 8.
The first leg of the trip was to the Highlands Camp in Colombia where we taught on The Surrendered Life at the School of Christian Training. This school is an intensive 12-week discipleship course developed by Pastor Hugo Mario Rodriguez and missionaries Craig Lingo and Scott Hudgins. Students, ages 19-28, are prayerfully and carefully selected from many applicants and must commit to four months of separation from their homes and completing a mission trip before their training is concluded. While in Colombia, we also spent some time with missionaries Scott Hudgins and Ali Alexander. We were privileged to stay at the camp to observe one of the Día Zero events, during which more than 100 people were personally led to faith in Christ.
We flew directly from Bogotá to Quito, Ecuador where we were met with a full slate of activities and meetings for the next thirty days. We were happy to go on our first day in Ecuador back to the airport to pick up Carla Davis, Sharon’s sister. Carla accompanied us for our first eleven days and was a great blessing to have along!
We began with a Saturday morning meeting of about 200 pastors and ministry leaders hosted at the church we established 33 years ago. After a time of worship, Sharon taught the ladies on the theme of Loving, Trusting, and Serving God while I challenged the men on principles of leadership.
I finished the teaching time with the whole group with the subject, Perseverance in the Ministry. A very generous offering was received for Generations International Ministry!
Our first Sunday in Ecuador, I preached in “our” church. This was our first time back in three years. What a blessing spiritually and emotionally! Lots of hugs! Pastor Fernando has successfully led the church to have three identical worship services on Sunday mornings. What a blessing to see more than 450 people on that morning. I preached from Psalm 145, Generation to Generation. There were seven first-time visitors, one baptism, and one decision to trust Christ as Savior.
One of the key purposes of the trip which was planned many months earlier was the Graduation of the Bible Baptist Institute of Quito. Each graduate is required to write a thesis and then defend it before a council. After successfully completing that step on Thursday and Friday, all seven of the graduates received their diplomas in a formal ceremony on Saturday. As founders of the Bible Institute, which has functioned successfully and continually since 1987, Sharon and I were honored to participate in the festivities.
The three women who graduated are all pastors’ wives and all four of the men are currently in fulltime ministry, three of them as senior pastors. We were greatly encouraged to hear their personal testimonies as to the Lord’s working in their lives and their plans to continue in His service.
On the 20th of November, we were the guests of Iglesia Bíblica Bautista Dulce Refugio in Santa Rita. Pastor Carlos Pullugando and his wife Mónica are sweet-spirited, faithful servants of the Lord who have raised two wonderful daughters. Our time in Santa Rita was great. The church is being blessed of the Lord!
Our third weekend in Ecuador found us in Sangolquí as guests of missionaries Cliff McGhee, Janice Hickey and Jenny Carpenter. Glenn and Sherri McGhee were at the time out of the country dealing with some serious health issues but that didn’t keep them from offering us their home for our weekend in their city. Sharon and I had a great Saturday morning meeting with and speaking to a group of pastors and their wives and ministry leaders from the network of churches in the valley. The McGhee families have been faithful and diligent and the Lord has blessed abundantly. Janice and Jenny have been a great help to the overall ministries. On Sunday, it was my privilege to speak at Iglesia Bíblica Bautista La Victoria in the morning service and then a trip to the south to speak at Iglesia Bíblica Bautista in Machachi, a small city in the shadow of the volcano, Cotopaxi.
We started the next week by visiting our good friends, the Romeros. That evening we met with the Monday night Bible study that we were involved with for many years. We shared our journey and had a sweet time of prayer together with our dear friends. Also that week we were hosted by a group of pastors and wives to celebrate my birthday and I preached at the midweek service in Carapungo. An unexpected blessing was the opportunity to be interviewed by HCJB radio, a Christian radio station, celebrating 85 years of proclaiming the Gospel around the world. The topic that morning was Coping with the Loss of a Child. For those who understand Spanish, you can hear the interview here:
Our final Sunday was joyfully spent at Iglesia Bíblica Bautista El Refugio in La Argelia. Pastor Jorge Navarrete and his sweet wife, Sandra, are being used of God and are a great blessing to this church!
One of the very positive accomplishments was the invitation from our Bible Institute to Sharon and me to return to our roles as professors. So beginning with the April classes, we will both be teaching again. Because of some technical advancements and with the help of some hardware and software which we will soon be purchasing, we will be doing our classes live from wherever we find ourselves on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings.
During our time in Ecuador, we were invited to eat by the following families: Carpenter, Dalgo, Davis, Espinoza, Hickey, Macancela, McGhee, Muñoz, Navarrete, Páez, Pazmiño, Povea, Pullugando, Romero, Saavedra, Salcedo, Sayago, Siguencia, Uribe, Vergel and "the ministry of alapanza." Each meal was accompanied by sweet memories and interesting information on the current state and future plans of these families.
We are happy to report to those churches who supported our ministry ‘way back when’ that fruit continues to be added to your account! In every church and in every meeting and in every home, our hearts rejoiced with the work of God in the lives of some people we have known for decades and others to whom we were just introduced. The words of the Apostle John replayed in my mind over and over again, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
Most of our time in Ecuador, we were hosted by Fernando, Verónica and Ian Páez. We have known and loved Verónica since she was a child. Fernando worked with me on the pastoral staff of the church for seven years and has been the senior pastor for ten. Their personal care and love for us is always evident. Besides comfortable lodging, they provided countless meals.
Sharon and I are grateful that God allowed us to begin our new ministry in Colombia and Ecuador! To be with people whom we have known and loved and with whom we have served was a great encouragement to us. We were busy, speaking a total of 28 times. We are excited to see how the Lord will use Generations International Ministry in 2017.
We solicit your prayers for Generations. Please pray that doors of churches would open for us to present this ministry. Pray that God would raise up the prayer and financial partners that we need. Pray that we would be wise and discerning in accepting the invitations that are presented to us to take our ministry through open doors, internationally.
Generations International was launched in 2016 and is overseen by board members Tim Adrian (Hutchinson, KS), Russell Johnson (Miami, FL), and Jon Slayden (Midland, TX). The primary focus of the ministry is to strengthen national pastors and their wives through mentoring and encouragement in an effort to multiply church-planting efforts around the world. More information is available at www.generations.international.