by Claudio Faúndez
Claudio (Chile) has served as a church planter in Chile and Ecuador since 2005.
The centre of Ecuador is dominated by the peaks and volcanoes of the Andes. In the Sierra, at 16,480ft above sea level, the Tungurahua volcano overlooks the city of Ambato, nestled 8,000ft below it. Surrounded by snowy peaks in a cool climate, Ambato is a hub for industrial production, transport and tourism. We live in the small town of Cevallos, on the southern edge of Ambato, in the province of Tungurahua.
We do not have much information about the first Brethren missionary to arrive in Ecuador, but we know that one of the first congregations planted was established by the North American missionary Juan Monday, who was in charge of an orphanage. From this assembly, the Emmaus Church in the centre of Quito, brothers left to establish congregations throughout the city and in other areas. There are currently 15 churches in Quito.
In 2008, the Emmaus assembly planted a church in the city of Ambato, in the province of Tungurahua, about two hours from the capital. A group of believers took turns to go each Sunday to share the Word and the Lord’s Supper with a group of approximately ten believers who met there. They prayed for a married couple to take responsibility for the work and that is how, in 2011, my wife, Silvana Acosta, and I were commended as missionaries to the city of Ambato.
Silvana served for 18 years as a missionary in the Ecuadorian jungle, living with the Huaorani tribe, and in other countries. I am Chilean and have served the Lord preaching the Word in Chile and Ecuador since 2005, when I came to live here and married Silvana. We have two beautiful daughters: Amy is ten years old and Julie is six.
Our vision has always been the planting of churches. The centre of the country does not have many Christian churches and there are many places without a Christian congregation that preaches the Word. The few churches that exist do not teach sound doctrine. For this reason, Roman Catholicism predominates in every area. Accepting God’s call, we went to live in the city of Ambato with the assembly in Quito as our commending church. Once we arrived in Ambato, we started to disciple the believers and establish meetings. In 2012 we had our first baptisms. The congregation has grown and today numbers about 60 members with three faithful elders.
To the north of Ambato in the province of Cotopaxi, named for its volcano, among the highest in the world, lies Mulalillo. This small, rural village is a centre for agricultural production and it is where our congregation is helping to plant a new church. From the time we arrived in Ambato, we prayed to be able to plant a church in another area. At the end of 2013, we received a call from the Christian radio BBN and were asked to counsel a listener who lived in Cotopaxi, an hour from Ambato. We went to see Hector Quingaluisa, who took us to his house in a little village called Mulalillo. Hector had been saved in a church in Salcedo. Through his preaching in Mulalillo, a family had come to know the Lord. After a while, Hector became engaged to their daughter.
Everything had been going well until, one day, while returning home from university, the daughter was run over and killed. This deeply affected Hector and he called the radio station looking for spiritual help. We began to visit him weekly and then to visit others through him. This led to us meeting with people from Mulalillo every Sunday afternoon to preach the gospel. In 2015, a congregation was established. We were able to baptise the first believers and start to break bread together. The church has grown and today numbers about 20 people, with two faithful and committed brothers who serve as elders.
We were able to baptise the first believers and start to break bread together.
The work continued to progress and in 2018 we started to work in Riobamba, Chimborazo. We had been praying to be able to visit the family of a sister from Ambato who lived in Riobamba. In the Lord’s timing, we began to visit this family. We had a programme to deliver gift boxes for children and we started to visit Riobamba every Saturday. We met in the home of Elvia, who opened her house so that we could preach the Word. After a year, she and her three children believed in the Lord and were baptised. At the beginning of 2019, we started to break bread together in Riobamba. The work was not easy; people did not show much interest in listening to the Word, we did not have our own transport and it was difficult for us to go there. At the start of 2020, we could no longer visit the believers and so we took them to another congregation. We trust in the Lord’s providence and hope at some point to continue this work.
At the end of 2018, a large family of about 15 people arrived in Ambato from Pelileo, about 20 minutes away. They had been to lots of churches because they longed to find the truth but found that many churches did not stick to the Scriptures. After searching and praying, they arrived at our congregation and said that it was the church they had been looking for. They started to come every Sunday and Wednesday, and we visited them weekly to teach them the gospel and the fundamental truths of the faith. At the beginning of 2019, we had the joy of baptising ten of them. Work is currently under way to establish a church in Pelileo.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to refocus the way we work. We moved to another town, Cevallos, about 20 minutes from Ambato. From here we are taking care of the churches, focusing on the work with families. We thank the Lord that the majority of families are worshipping together. We are transmitting services by YouTube and Zoom, and many believers invite relatives who do not yet know the Lord to their home meetings. I visit families and churches with all the necessary precautions, including the believers in Mulalillo, reinforcing the work that the church leaders are doing there and encouraging those in Pelileo. We hope to start a church in Cevallos soon.
We are working to train new leaders, elders and deacons, as well as equipping a team of women and young people to serve as volunteers. We aim to strengthen the work in Mulalillo and Pelileo. According to our calling, we want to plant churches in other places. These are rural villages where Catholicism dominates and it is necessary to work hard to overcome false ideas by teaching the truth of the gospel. In all our work, we pray that the Lord would always guide us and open the doors. ‘At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the Word, to declare the mystery of Christ’ (Col. 4:3).
- for the churches in Ambato, Cevallos, Mulalillo, Pelileo and Riobamba
- for the church leaders to grow in maturity
- for transport to better mobilise ourselves in visiting the believers
- that the Lord would strengthen us as a family.