Monday, August 18, 2014

Two Weeks Sharing God's Love with the People of Ecuador

Tracy on both sides of the world.
by Tracy Vazquez

This summer I had the honor and privilege of traveling to Quito, Ecuador for 2 weeks with Go International and Coast to Coast Central for the first part of a multi-year, multi-nation movement called The Justice Tour. The goal of the Justice Tour is to bring justice and God’s love to each continent. Upon our arrival we had a prayer rally at the middle of the world (on the Equator): The Justice Tour kicked off, literally, in the middle of the world.

I had been on mission trips before; I even spent a year living in Mexico as a missionary. I hold nothing against those trips because the Lord had his purpose for them,  but they were all very focused on numbers and outcomes. They wanted statistics and they wanted immediate results. Their strategy for ministry was to walk up to people and recite the basics of the Gospel. I never felt comfortable with this approach and I was always made to feel like I was somehow inadequate or less spiritual because this didn’t come easily for me.  I have always had a heart for people and a heart for missions. After feeling like a failure for a year in Mexico because I couldn’t minster to people in this way, I gave up on working in full-time missions. God was clearly not done with me and this trip has only reignited my passion for sharing God’s love with others.

The Team
From our very first meeting in Miami, there was something different about this trip. Our trip leader, Greg Baca, said that our main purposes in Ecuador were to love people well and to bring light into the dark places. This was so freeing to hear because I could do both of those things. He also said that ministry shouldn’t be complicated or fit into a box. Ministry should simply be meeting peoples needs and bringing God’s light into the dark places. Sometimes we get caught up in doing things a certain way because we have always done them that way, instead ministry should be creative to allow God room to work.  Our God is Creator and we should want to co-create with him.  

Loving people well:
Most of our time was spent in Quito, but we took a few days and went to a town a few hours away, called Latacunga, to help Jessie and her family. Greg met Jessie at a ministry, Casa Mi Sueños ("My Dream House"), which helps women who have come from jail, prostitution and human trafficking, get back on their feet. Greg teaches business classes there and Jessie stood out as one of the most promising students in his class. You would never know it from meeting her but Jessie was in prison. We were never told what she did, but her abject poverty and the fact that she was left alone while both her parents worked, lead her to make some poor decisions. Since being released she has completely turned her life around. She is the oldest of 6 children and is currently in nursing school. Her family’s economic situation hasn’t changed though so Greg wanted to step in and help. The children range in age from 6 months to 18 years old and since Jessie is gone most of the day in school her mom has no one to leave the younger children with. Her mom has always dreamed of having a store in their house so that she can work and still watch the children. So, we put on our painting clothes and went to work. We also stocked the store so that they could get a great start. A portion of the money that we raised for our trip went to fund this project. Jessie and her mom were both so overwhelmed with gratitude that they could barely speak. When her mom did speak she said, “I always thought God was real, but now I know He is.” This family will now be able to have a steady source of income and hopefully break the cycle of poverty.

Bringing light into dark places:
One of the most powerful things we did while we were there was The Night of Refuge. A portion of the money that we raised for our trip went towards the expense of this evening. The heart behind this night was to offer women who work in the sex industry a night of refuge from that life. We reserved a private room in a restaurant and made everything super girly. Some of the girls were invited and other girls we purchased for the evening from the brothels. We wanted these girls to feel loved and appreciated, something they don’t experience everyday. The night consisted of dinner, music, a photo booth and a message from one of the leaders, Christa, on how they were created for freedom.  When she shared about being in chains and how Christ wants to set them free, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. So many of the girls could relate to that analogy. We finished out the night with dancing and gift bags. The girls received a gift with donated toiletries, makeup, necklaces that we made for them and contact information for Casa Mi Sueños. The women said that they have never in their lives been treated so well. That in itself made the whole trip worth it just so they could experience God’s love.

Would you join me in loving people well and bringing light into the dark places right here in Raleigh?
"God is LOVE"


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