The second trip of the second round of Luke 10 Exploration Trips went out from June 5- August 2 to Ecuador. We had a team of four in Ecuador for two months and they were joined by four others who stayed for a shorter period.
Ten exploration teams made trips to ten different destinations and peoples between April 2022 and March 2023. These trips were the first round of exploration in discerning potential new fields for EFM to launch as part of EFM’s Five-Year Goal. It was determined that eight of those destinations require a second trip for further, deeper, exploration, plus as of July 2023 plans are being made by FSW to explore starting a new work among unreached people groups in Cambodia and surrounding areas. Further exploration will help EFM to begin making decisions about where to make commitments in November 2023 to send North American households to launch new fields. See more information here.
The following is a report written by trip leader Jerry Clarkson.
|Who Was on this Trip & Where Did We Travel?
Edwin and Maria Giron (EFM), Jael Ayala (Coahuila YM Future Missionary), and Jose Olivas (Mexico YM Missionary Candidate) met in Mexico City and traveled to Quito, Ecuador arriving on June 6. Grace Anderson, (NWYM Future Missionary) and Jerry Clarkson (NWYM) traveled from the U.S. and landed in Quito the same day. The Girons were able to stay with the team until June 15. Jan and Meghan Cammack (NWYM) joined the team on July 6. The team remained in Ecuador until August 2.
After three days in Quito, our team traveled to Macas, Morona-Santiago Province in southeast Ecuador. Morona-Santiago, Zamora-Chinchipe, and the southern edge of Pastaza Provinces are the home of the Shuar tribes. We used a hostel in Macas as a base camp and traveled to several cantons (counties) of Morona-Santiago, as well as to Zamora-Chinchipe to investigate evangelism and the lack of evangelism among the Shuar. We stayed four to seven each in the towns of Palora, Taisha, San Jose de Morona, Santiago de Tiwintza, Gualquiza, and Zamora. Our team also traveled on day trips to Santiago de Mendez and Limon Indanza, as well as to Huamboya and Pablo Sexto. From these central towns, we visited Shuar in as many surrounding villages as possible. We were not yet able to travel beyond the ends of the roads, but we heard about many villages accessible only by rivers or trails and talked with some people from those remote locations.
|What was our experience traveling here? How did the Lord meet us?
The Shuar are asking for Bibles, Bible training, pastors and pastoral training, and the establishment of churches. Many of the towns and villages have had Catholic influence and most of the larger central towns have two-four evangelical churches or other sects (though some of these do not seem to be well accepted in the village).
By visiting Shuar in many villages and hearing reports from surrounding villages we were able to identify many places without any evangelical presence that have an interest in hearing the gospel. Some places once had mission influence but the people from these places were not discipled sufficiently to have sustainable congregations. The younger generations from these places are unreached or under-reached. Some villages have never had churches but have heard the basis of the gospel at some time in the past. Many of these villages are asking for biblical training. Some areas were once well evangelized but now have no spiritual support contact outside of their own villages or areas. These areas are asking for continued discipleship and training in order to become sustainable congregations and networks of churches. Jesus seemed to direct our paths, open doors, and call us time and again to return to work in Ecuador as soon as possible.
|Two Trip Highlights
Jerry, Grace, and Jose traveled to Taisha and then to Panki at the edge of the road-accessible jungle. During an outdoor community meeting, Jerry and Jose had the opportunity to visit at length with Tomás and Patricio. Tomás’ house had burned two nights before. Tomas said to Jerry, “I went to my fields this morning and was praying while doing my chores. ‘God, why did my house burn down?’ I had no answer. Now that you have come I know that if my house had not burned you would not have stayed, We would have been in the fields and not been here to talk with you. We are Catholic. We have no priest, we have no church building, we have no Bibles. Can you come to teach us to pray and teach us about God? Come back as soon as possible…”. We heard similar stories in many towns and villages. We are called to be with the Shuar to show them Jesus.
In south-east Canton Palora we were invited by contacts from last year to teach pastors and leaders from existing churches. We lived with the Shuar in Nantar village for a week. Jerry taught a series for five nights on spiritualism and animism. Jose and Jael alternately taught each night in response to topics and questions suggested by the people. Pastors and leaders (of other denominations) came from six surrounding villages up to an hour’s walk away. These leaders report that they no longer have contact with supporting organizations. These leaders asked for continued deeper training like what we provided for the week. This could be a secondary purpose of the mission in Ecuador. The town’s people also shared Shaur culture and language with us including hunting techniques and village history.
|How Can You Pray for Next Steps in this Country?
Our hope is to see the eventual establishment of discipleship centers in Taisha, San Jose de Morona, and possibly Palora in order to reach into Taisha and Mucuma areas, Tiwintza, San Jose, and south Taisha areas, and Palora, Huamboya, and north Upano valley areas. EFM has the possibility of partnering with AMEE to obtain visas and navigate other logistics. Jose Olivas has made plans made plans with Mexico Yearly Meeting to return to Ecuador in November and will be working for one year in the Upano Central Valley while learning more about the Shuar culture.
Several others on the team envision a possibility of missionary service in Ecuador with EFM if EFM approves a commitment to launching a new field. Please pray for Grace Anderson, Jael Ayala, and Jerry and Kerry Clarkson as they consider what it might mean to be faithful to the Lord of the Harvest as missionaries, with Ecuador heavy in their minds and hearts. Please pray for NWYM Board of Global Outreach as they discern with EFM and the Luke 10 Team’s vision and ideas for next steps in Ecuador. There is a growing vision for the possibility of EFM starting a new mission field in Ecuador!
|What’s Next?The second round of Luke 10 Exploration Trips continues through October 2023. The EFM National Luke 10 Think Tank will meet on November 8, 2023 to look at which fields meet EFM’s CAN GO Criteria for launching new fields and begin making the first decisions as to where EFM will commit to deploying missionaries by the end of 2025.
Are you Feeling Called to Join EFM?
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.
Director of Mobilization