Taking the leap

20 Aug, 2015 | Ecuador
OM International
"From the moment I began planning my life-altering move to the mission field of Ecuador, I already had it in my mind that at some point during my time on the field, my home church would send a short-term team to work alongside me and my teammates in our ministry,” expressed OM Ecuador team member Jessica Wojcik, a native of Connecticut, US.

In July, Jessica’s vision came true when a team from NewLife Christian Fellowship in Wethersfield, Connecticut, joined OM Ecuador from 19-25 July to host a week-long Vacation Bible School (VBS) for about 90 children in the small community of Oñakapak.

"Before moving, I didn’t know how it would all work out,” she remembered. “I just knew the importance of having my supporters come and be a part of what they were supporting, and how that experience would touch not only those who would come, but also the other members of my sending church. So I left home, started working in my field, and trusted God for the rest."

To the mission field

Jessica has served with OM Ecuador for the last year and a half, and says her experience has not gone as she has expected it would. “I thought I knew what God was up to when I moved to Ecuador, but clearly He had better plans,” she said.

After eight months in Ecuador, she moved from the populated city of Guayaquil almost 200 miles south to the rural community of Saraguro. She and the team of four other members anchored themselves in prayer and looked around for where God might have them serve. Within a few weeks, they started a weekly children’s outreach in the smaller village of Oñakapak.

Beginning with just a handful of kids—to whom they taught memory verses and Bible stories—the programme quickly grew from to 30, to 60 to ultimately well over 100 children. 

After nearly a year of building a strong foundation in the Bible for the children through lessons from the Old Testament, the team decided to begin the summer with a new series on the life of Jesus. 

“Just as God would have it, in the midst of this series, He opened the door for the team that I’ve been dreaming of from my home church to come down and help us out,” said Jessica.

Life-changing week

The week of VBS, hosted in partnership with the group from Jessica’s sending church, centred on the concept of who God is. 

“Through this time, not only did the children in Oñakapak receive the love and attention that they all so desperately long for, but also they learnt that our God is all-powerful; He is our protector, our healer, our provider and, ultimately, He is our Saviour!” Jessica exclaimed. “Forty-six of those children ended the week having made a life-changing, personal commitment to follow Jesus Christ.

"For my teammates and I, this was such a rewarding experience! It felt as if all we had been working toward this year paid off in each of those 46 decisions. As for my home church, they will forever be connected with the hearts and lives of these children, whose destinies they changed through coming, sending and/or praying for this VBS!"

Additionally, the team impacted the churches and community of Saraguro. For three afternoons, the team painted a meeting room in the local church, Amada de Dios, where Sunday school classes are held. The room also hosts a joint programme between the church and Compassion International.

On two additional afternoons, the team did crafts with children in the Sunday school class of another Christian church in town, Buen Pastor, as well as with a few of the neighbourhood kids.

“The churches were so appreciative of what the team was able to accomplish in such a short amount of time and expressed what a blessing it was for each congregation," Jessica reflected.

Impact of short-term missions

"Often times, at least in my home country, people wonder if short-term missions does more harm than good,” said Jessica. “People would rather send money than come themselves because they don’t know for sure what kind of impact they will have. I believe that short-term missions works when it is connected in a personal way to the ministry which the group is going to support.

“Having my home church come to Ecuador to serve alongside my teammates and I not only encouraged me in my mission, but it gave God the chance to work in their hearts and through their lives.

“Each member of this team, and the communities of Oñakapak and Saraguro, will forever be changed for the better because of the willingness of this team to say yes to God and come to Ecuador to serve Him!"

Praise God for the lives of the children that God changed through the love shown by the OM and short-term teams. Pray that those who participated in the VBS outreach from OM and the short-term team will be advocates for impacting communities for Christ.

Credit: OM International · © 2015 OM International This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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