My three-week trip to train pastors and church leaders in Ecuador this past November and December proved to be a very special time with four different groups of men and women hungry to grow in their skills handling the Word of God in the WordPartners training program.
If I had to describe the trip in one word, I would choose GROWTH; growth and expansion of our ministry in Ecuador, and personal growth in nearly every area imaginable (growth as a preacher, trainer, shepherd, and Spanish-speaker 😉 ).
This post will share a series of photos that highlight how God worked on our trip. Each caption will give you a glimpse into a portion of our trip and the fruit God is bearing through His Word as a result of our training.
Below is a video where two trainees share how God has used WordPartners training in their lives and ministries:
Group One: Studying Ruth with Preachers and Church Leaders at Iglesia Cristiana Vida Nueva, Portoviejo, Ecuador
The first of four training groups took place in Portoviejo, Ecuador at Iglesia Cristiana Vida Nueva, and was a “Taste and See” training event to give people new to our ministry a glimpse into what our training is like.
This group included Vida Nueva (New Life)’s preaching team and small group leaders, an excited group of mainly young people who were eager to receive training in the Scriptures and learn how the book of Ruth fit in the Bible’s glorious storyline. I was also happy to meet an American missionary who attends Vida Nueva and was eager to continue training and apply what we taught in his ministry.
Although we prefer 15-20 participants in our workshops, this group had over 50(!), and we expect the majority of them to enroll in at least two more years of training.
Their only critique at the end of three days together? We didn’t have enough time with you!
Group Two: Training in Jonah for Pastors and Leaders in Portoviejo, Ecuador
The second group studied the book of Jonah. This group was started by Alexander and Oscar Paul, two pastors we have trained before, with the goal of spreading faithful expository ministry to other churches in their city.
Read more about this group on The Gospel Coalition: Moving Toward Christ-Centered Preaching in Ecuador.
Patricio, my boss, and I were invited to lead several sessions on Jonah and help Alexander and Oscar Paul shepherd this group. Jonah challenged them to approach their ministries and their enemies with the compassionate heart of God, and also exposed areas of disobedience.
This group of leaders from several different denominations demonstrated a sweet unity in Christ as we studied Jonah. After hearing a sample sermon I preached on Jonah 4, one pastor said that, “the only way we can reach this community for Christ is by working together.”
This group is fired up to continue receiving training and to see the impact the Word of God clearly taught will have on their congregations and communities.
Below, Alexander is teaching about the genre of Jonah (narrative and poetry) and why understanding genre is vital for faithfully interpreting the Scriptures.
Here’s a close-up of this group from Portoviejo.
Group Three: Pastors from Missionary Alliance Churches in Portoviejo, Ecuador
Our third group is almost done with our four-year training program. We spent three days studying the Psalms and learning how to see the book of Psalms as a whole. One of the main comments we heard after the workshop was that they never saw the shape of the Psalms—how it begins with a promise of blessing, and Christ leads us through difficulty toward praise in Christ.
Two men were so encouraged after the training that they both decided to teach the Psalms on two separate retreats with their church.
The first photo below is of one of our “Dig & Discover” sessions where we practice using a hermeneutical principle and present our findings to the group for discussion, critique, and application.
Here’s a group shot of these beloved brothers. One thing I really love about this group is their sense of humor: they all have known each other for years and can poke fun at each other like nobody’s business. This closeness also allows them to open up and share how God is challenging and encouraging them through His Word.
Below is a photo of my favorite food from Portoviejo: Encebollado. That’s fresh fish soup, seasoned with onion and served with banana chips.
Perhaps my favorite point of this trip was responding to the Lord in song after three days in the Psalms. Watch the video below.
The only way to end an expository preaching workshop on the Psalms: worship!
(Or in this case, ¡alabanza!) @LRI_News pic.twitter.com/Cnz3tsgZ5i
— Kevin Halloran (@kp_halloran) December 8, 2015
I enjoyed preaching at three different churches on three different Sundays while in Ecuador. I preached on God’s Transforming Grace from Titus 2:11-14. God rocked my world with that passage during 2014-2015, and it was exciting to see many people touched by God’s Word as a result of this sermon.
This first photo is when I ‘accidentally’ preached at one church’s 103 year anniversary. (Long story!)
One of the churches (where I am preaching below) used to be a nightclub. A man named Jaime and his wife prayed for this Quito nightclub to close for years—and now Jaime pastors a large congregation there. Glory be to God!
Group Four: Training in Habakkuk with Pastors and Leaders in Quito, Ecuador
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
Our fourth group studied Habakkuk in Quito. This group of pastors and leaders from the Covenant Churches in north and northwest Ecuador are really fun and committed to study.
You may think three days in the tiny book of Habakkuk that only consists of three chapters and 56 verses might be dry, but our experience (as always) proved enriching as we grappled with the text and how to rejoice in God during difficult times.
I had the privilege of preaching Habakkuk, which is the pinnacle of the book’s message, expressing confident trust and joy in our God of justice who will be faithful to save those who look to Him in faith.
A funny moment from this training was when a stray cat wandered into our training and jumped up on the table—right before someone walked over, grabbed the scruff of the cat, and escorted it out.
The woman below with her finger raised is a missionary who was sent several years ago from the church that hosted the training. She arrived at the training very discouraged, considering quitting her ministry because she doesn’t see how God is working. She works with an indigenous group in the mountains of Ecuador. At the close of our training, she said through tears how Habakkuk’s message changed her:
“Now I see the sovereignty of God in my work with the young people I am serving—and it encourages me. God has a purpose for me and He will do something through His word in my ministry.”
Below is a group shot after our training. Technically, this is the “silly” version, but not everyone got the memo!
Scroll back to the top for the video of Amparo and Moises sharing how God has used this training in their lives or see a snippet below:
“I love God’s Word a lot, but realized I needed to be trained. These courses have transformed my way of studying the Bible, of understanding the Scriptures, and has also shown me the great responsibility to give the Word to others… [Those I have trained] have been blessed, they understand the Scriptures better, and it has created a new hunger for them to learn the Word of God.” —Amparo
“[LRI’s ministry] has radically transformed the way I see the Scriptures and teach the Scriptures. I have done youth ministry here in Quito since I was 17, and it has given me a love for the Word. It has been very useful to share this material with youth in small groups and give them mini-trainings as well. This work has not been in vain!” —Moises
Friends, thank you so much for your prayers and support!
Looking ahead, we hope growth continues toward a self-sustaining movement of men and women we have trained passing the training on to others in their church, their community, and all over the world.
Oscar Paul and Alexander, the two gifted pastors I mentioned from group #2, are now “co-workers” of mine, and will travel to Costa Rica this fall to train more pastors. It’s a beautiful thing to say that my organization doesn’t need me because of the crop of faithful men we have trained.
“and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2
In addition to Ecuador and Costa Rica, LRI will be in the following Latin American countries: Honduras, Colombia, Cuba, and Guatemala.
Pray with us:
- Pray with us that God continues to equip and encourage many pastors toward a faithful and fruitful ministry of the Word.
- Pray that God would raise up future leaders and trainers to continue our work in Ecuador. Pray particularly for a gifted and passionate man named William who we think has great potential as a trainer.
- Pray that our funding for Latin America would keep up with the increasing demand we have for training.
- Pray that we can grow the Latin America training team.
- Pray that I would continue to grow in wisdom and grace in training others.
To God be the glory!