January 25, 2009

Missouri Teens Minister to 150 Shuar in Ecuadorian Jungle

The crowd was so thick when the van first pulled in, the team had a hard time getting out of the van!  The woman in this photo is Pastor Deb Laws, former missionary to Spain, who was the Bible teacher and song leader for the group.

This is the Shuar group that welcomed the team with a traditional dance and song.  The beads around their waists and ankles made percussion sounds when they moved.

The crowds were big both days!

Facepainting....

Puppets ... missionary kid Mary Hall also served as translator, led songs, read from the Bible or the puppet script, whatever was needed.

*****

For two days in the jungle of Ecuador, 150 children and their parents, many of whom walked 1-to-2 hours from their homes, descended upon Centro Yuu, an indigenous Shuar village.  As the Work & Witness team vans drove into the village, joyful children running alongside immediately surrounded the vans.  In fact, the team had a hard time exiting their vans because of the crowd!

On Dec. 29 & 30, a group of teens from the Eldon, Missouri, church along with their adult leaders traveled to the Shuar village for a two-day kids ministry event complete with clowns, face-painting, balloons, puppets, games, and Bible stories.  Pastor Deb Laws (former missionary to Spain) and youth pastor Mike Edinger led the activities along with Mary Hall, daughter of missionaries Stan & Sherri Hall, who also served as translator.

The Nazarene church is the only evangelical church serving in this jungle area.  Several villagers kicked off the event with singing and an indigenous dance to welcome the ministry team.

While the teens pray that their messages influenced these children and their families, several commented that their lives would never be the same again.  Kristi Mueller shares how God expanded her faith:  “We were running out of bread and Coke to share, and I prayed there would be enough, that no one would be left out.  By the time we got through, everyone had gotten some, and there was some left.  It reminded me of the story of Jesus and the bread and fishes.  He did it again!"

The teens distributed over 175 health/toiletry kits to everyone in attendance.  In addition, another 50 family kits were left with the Shuar pastor to distribute to families in the future.  Another teen, Erin Vernon, conveyed the impact of this trip:  "We have so much in this country, and they don't even have their needs met.  And yet, they are still happy with what they have.  I have realized that I am spoiled, but I am changing.”

Work & Witness Team Ministers to Several People Groups

The entire 34-member team from Eldon, Missouri.

This is a picture of the key leader of the Shuar mission church and his family with their "house" in the background.

Here the team is bending rebar to make frames for the columns.

Because they were pouring the 4th floor, the concrete was mixed on ground level and then hoisted up...bucket by bucket.  We were thankful for a sunny morning to complete the pour.

Job complete . . . and drying in the afternoon rain!
*****

The Missouri team that recently worked in Shell, Ecuador, came with a big mission—to seek as many ways as possible to impact the community with the love of Jesus Christ.  God answered their prayers as they ministered to several people groups in and around this jungle town:  the Mestizo, the Shuar and the Waoroni.

Part of the team included 9 teens and their leaders who held a two-day kids’ event in Centro Yuu, a Shuar village.  They shared the gospel with over 150 children and their parents.  The rest of the team constructed and poured the fourth floor of the school building for the Shell Church of the Nazarene.  The school children are from the nations of Shuar, Waoroni, Ashuar, and Cofan.  The team also brought and distributed clothing, toiletry kits and school supplies to the church and its community.

The team attended a Sunday service in the Shuar village.  This mission church is an offspring of the Shell Church of the Nazarene and is the only evangelical presence in the area.  It was a night of two cultures sharing together.  Rev. Angel Lemache, pastor of the Shell church, and Rev. Jerry Frye, pastor of the Eldon, MO, church, each shared with missionary Stan Hall translating.  The Shuar church sung in both Shuar and Spanish, followed by the team singing in English.

When the team asked Pastor Angel how they could further the work in Centro Yuu, he mentioned two projects:  water purification and discipleship.  The water source is a small dirty pool of water from which people bathe, wash their clothes and drink.  Regarding discipleship, the pastor wants to see people baptized and to have their own Bibles and notebooks for teaching.  The team left with a burden to help in some way in the future.  Ray Pinzke said, “I complain if the water is not hot enough, and now I’m just thankful for pure water.”

Shell, Ecuador, is steeped in missionary history, as it was the headquarters for the five missionaries who were killed by the Auca tribe in the 1950s.  The Aucas are now called Waoroni.  Several team members met and prayed with Omari, the female leader of the Waoroni.  This people group consists of 35 communities, 10 of which have a strong Christian influence and 25 that are without Christ and still live violent lives.  Omari’s sister and brother-in-law were speared to death trying to reach one of these communities for Christ.  Yet, Omari is committed to going back into that community and she requested prayer from the group.  Although Pastor Angel hadn’t met Omari, he plans to follow up with her.   Team member Kay Webery shared, "I was moved by her [Omari’s] commitment to sharing the gospel.  She was willing to risk everything to share the Gospel."

Another way the team contributed was to rent a hostel serviced by the local Nazarene church.  The hostel employs several local church members along with raising funds for the salary of the school’s teachers.  In addition, team members donated their own personal funds to pay for a cornea transplant operation for the pastor’s wife who is going blind.  Although we don’t know the full results of their generous spirits, we know the God will continue to bless the seeds sown in these different communities.