The third of the ten Luke 10 Exploration Trips in 2022 went out last month (May 30-June 16) with a team of eight to Ecuador! Thank you for praying for this team and EFM’s Luke 10 Initiative as Evangelical Friends discern where to launch new mission fields as part of EFM’s Five-Year Goal! See more information here.
The following is a report from team leader Ken Comfort. The whole team is grateful for your prayers and support!
Who Was on this Trip?
- Ken Comfort, NWYM
- Maria and Edwin Giron, EFM Missionary and FSW
- Jerry and Keri Clarkson, NWYM
- Rebecca Reimer, EFC-MAYM, Future Missionary
- Jael Ayala Corpus, Mexico Yearly Meeting, Future Missionary
- Beatriz Apaza, Bolivia
Where Did We Travel?
We traveled to the Morona-Santiago Province of Ecuador. We were able to visit fourteen Shuar communities, in six general areas, to interact with Shuar people as much as possible. They were: Palora (Tawasap, and Nantar), Macas (Sevilla – in Canton Morona), San Joaquin and Santa Isabel (in Gamboa), Sucua (San Jose Alto – Suni’s church), Tayusaen, Mendez, Puerto Morona, Achunts, and Tiwintza.
What is the Need in the Area?
The Shuar are one of a few jungle tribes living in east Ecuador in the Amazon basin up to and beyond the border of Peru. This tribe is one of the least reached people in Ecuador. The population may be up to 250,000 people in Ecuador and 150,000 in Peru.
Although some evangelical churches are established among the Shuar, at every meeting in every Shuar village, the people expressed the need for pastoral training, leadership training, and discipleship. Many communities are still very remote with little or no contact with the gospel. We were told that along the western side of the province from the Upano river to the Andes, about 10% of the people are Christian adherent. Beyond the river to the next mountain range about 5% of the people are Christian. Through the next valley and range 3% – 5% are Christian. From there to the Morona River 3% – 1% are Christian. Beyond the Morona to Peru less that 1% are Christian. Many have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel because they live in remote villages that still practice tribal ways.
Key Trip Moments
- We sang with the kids before worship time Thursday night in Achunts.
- We felt the work of God everywhere we went—believers were everywhere.
- We blessed Charles Milton, Sr. Rodrigo and wife Yolanda, and Teresa at our hostel in Puerto Morona.
- God accommodated when we weren’t ready.
- The Achunts believers memorized verses and sang songs with us in Spanish, English, Aymara, and Shuar.
- We had many personal conversations in many places, special moments to know new people and how God has worked in their lives.
- We prayed that God would stop the rainstorm and he did, the morning of leaving with the boat.
- We learned, if you pass the tests, the doors will open – become Shuar to the Shuar.
- We encouraged village churches and leaders, especially Achunts.
- Pablo (the musician) was great, asked lots of questions and asked for prayer.
- Many sisters in the faith in Achunts also asked for prayer.
- We received many requests for pastoral and discipleship training, including in Tawasap, Nantar, Sucua,and Achunts.
There is much to share and tell about our time in jungle of Ecuador. Here are two testimonies:
In Achuntz, (the village we traveled to by canoe), we found a village that has a strong evangelical faith. The former Shuar pastor had died a year before and his house was locked up, no one had entered it since. After a lengthy conversation with the town leaders about our beliefs, there was an excited conversation among the people in Shuar language. Jerry, Christina, and I had been told we would join the rest of our team to sleep that night at the school. But soon the daughter of the former pastor came and said, “My father told us you would come to our village. He wanted us to have his house ready to host you!” So they unlocked the door, swept the house out for us, and showed us the books that he was translating. It was a very emotional time for everyone.
Another story is from Friday, June 10. After dinner Jael and Rebecca were singing until church started at 7:00. Lots of people joined us. Since it was dark at 6:00pm, we lit the church with two flashlights. Each of us were given a few minutes to share a short testimony and a scripture passage, and after we sang a few more songs in Shuar and Spanish. As the service was ending, Pablo (our canoe pilot and worship leader) asked if we could all hold hands as a sign that we were all part of God’s family. I asked Edwin Giron to pray the final prayer, but before he could, three ladies, one by one, broke into the center of the circle and asked for prayer that they would walk faithful to God and that the village would forgive them. They wanted to be part of the family of God too. It was a special time blessed by an incredible moving of the Spirit.
Luke 10 Exploration Trips will continue taking place during the remainder of 2022. In November, teams will present detailed reports and recommendations at the national Luke 10 Think Tank.
How Can You Join?
Are you interested in exploring missionary service? Do you know of anyone of any age who might be interested in exploring the idea of serving as a missionary overseas for two or more years?
EFM is currently looking to contact and connect with people about opportunities to explore serving as missionaries with the Friends Church!
We look forward to sharing more news as it becomes available about what we are finding and discerning in EFM’s Luke 10 Initiative as we continue to explore where EFM may launch new mission fields.
Director of Mobilization