How on earth did we get here?
As the plane landed in Guayaquil, Andy leaned over to Christine, one of the other staff on our team and asked the question, “How on did we get here?” He wasn’t talking about the flight or the physical journey from Chicago to Ecuador, but the spiritual journey of the Lord bringing our team to Ecuador. Last spring Andy couldn’t locate Ecuador on a map and he’d never heard of Guayaquil, but it was then that God began to work in the hearts of our staff to seek out a new overseas partnership location. We went through a process of pairing down a list of around 100 worldwide locations that were seeking partnership to 4 locations that our students and staff would prayerfully consider and then vote on. In the fall, Guayaquil was convincingly selected as the place we would partner with, and a couple months later Andy was on a plane with 2 other staff and 5 students to check out this place to which God had lead us. What he didn’t know when we landed was that God answering the question of “How did we get here?” in a way that none of them was expecting.
It was evident throughout the week in Guayaquil that God had sent us to there as a response to the prayers of others. Martha Ortiz, the director for the CCC campus ministry in Ecuador met us during our week and shared with us how badly she and the other Ecuadorian staff wanted to see movements raised up on campuses in Guayaquil. They simply did not have enough staff to send. This reality led them to pray that God might raise up a partner to reach students there. But the Campus Crusade staff weren’t the only ones praying. A few days into our trip we met with the staff of a church located just blocks from the gate of the Universidad de Guayaquil, a campus with over 80,000 students. The pastor of the church shared with us that the church was started some time ago with a vision of reaching the campus with the Gospel. The church had since moved away from that vision, but last spring God led them back to their original purpose and they decided to refocus on the campus. They began praying for others who would come to share the Gospel with students. It occur to Andy until he returned to Chicago that it was last Spring when this church started praying and last Spring that our team started to talk about taking on a new partnership. We don’t think that was a coincidence!
Evangelism on Campus
In addition to doing practical things like looking for housing on future trips, touring campuses, and meeting other Christians in the city, we took time to share our faith on campus. The receptivity and openness of the Ecuadorian students to the Gospel was amazing! In just a short week our group saw 19 students indicate a decision for Christ. Most students we talked to were open to hearing the Gospel and a majority of them responded to it. The challenge for our ministry as we start to send people for longer periods of time (for a summer, or even for a year) will be to see these students who respond so favorably to the Gospel become growing, multiplying disciples of Christ.
Prayers for the future of our partnership
This summer we’ll send the first Summer Project there. We may also send a group for a short trip either in August or in May. This is all with an eye toward sending the first one year STINT team there in the fall of 2012. Please pray that God might call students who went on the vision trip in January, as well as students who go on these trips later this year, to be a part of the STINT teams in the future.
With Jesus’ Love,
Andy & Amy