In about a month, the Manta team training here in Quito will officially move to Manta to begin their ministry in planting a Nazarene church. In the meantime, the coast of Ecuador has been crippled by after shocks following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake last month.
This last weekend, I helped lead a ministerial response team to Manta. The streets looked different two weeks after the first visit. People who were able to return to their houses from the street had done so and temporary shelters had been organized for the homeless. Because we were not able to leave until Friday afternoon, we arrived late at night to one of these temporary shelters. This particular shelter was unable to hold enough, so the adjacent street was lined with those who slept outside underneath materials they had scavenged to use as tarp coverings.
We unloaded the bus and started an evangelism event right in the middle of the street. The children were especially happy to have something to do. We gave out around 50 necessity kits, along with many prizes and Bibles. At the end of the program, each family was prayed over by one of our missionaries.
During the day on Saturday we went to do “visits”. The last time we were in Manta, we collected contact information of people who came to our events and were interested in the church. We were then able to visit these families on Saturday. Many of the families asked for necessities such as medication, diapers, baby formula or drinking water. Led by the 40/40 missionaries, we visited each family and even gained new contacts. I watched as one of our young 40/40 missionaries shared the salvation story with about twenty women outside our bus, she prayed with them and collected their contact information so she can meet with them individually when she arrives to Manta next month.
Saturday afternoon was probably the highlight. We went to another temporary camp set up. About thirty tents stood in an empty lot. It was hard to imagine that families had been living in these tents for about a month and will continue to do so. On Saturday, we were joined by youth from the city of Guayaquil. The youth put on an amazing performance with interactive dances and games for the kids. Towards the end of the program, our pastor gave a message of hope and salvation in Christ. Everyone at the event gathered with their families and once again each of us missionaries picked a family to pray with.
Unfortunately, there was no “medical clinic” this time like was planned. Though, a physician and I did visit many families and see a few patients both at the last event and during the visits. In the end, we made many new contacts for the upcoming church plant and were able to provide many people with necessities. Though these are horrific circumstances, I am grateful that we could be there to shine some light on a desperate situation. Please continue to pray as we look into what our relief ministry will look like in the months to come.