The Story of Hope brings joy to rural Ecuador
By Karine Woldhuis | Ecuador in South America
The Bible is the Word of God, but we could easily call it the "book of hope." Through the many stories in the Bible we see God at work and his plan of salvation through Jesus Christ unfolding across its pages. As a result of SIM Ecuador's "Story of Hope" ministry in rural Loja, Christian believers participated in a special biblical training presentation that introduced important concepts in new and unforgettable ways.
The moment to present the certificates for the "Story of Hope" training had arrived. In true Latin style, everyone at the closing ceremony showed great enthusiasm and excitement. People smiled as leaders handed out certificates of completion, and they shook hands in congratulations before a time of fellowship.
Tomas Diaz, an SIM missionary to Ecuador, tells of a participant named Maria who approached him with her own powerful story about using the material.
"The week I was supposed to practice presenting a part of The Story of Hope, I decided to share about the fall of mankind in Genesis 3," Maria told Diaz. "It's the story of Adam and Eve's sin after the serpent tempted them. I approached a brother in Christ to present the story, remembering it as best as I could, and then told him the whole story like we'd practiced in the 'Story of Hope' training. As I finished, I was astounded to see that he had tears running down his face as he understood the great tragedy of sin first entering the world. He really got it, and it amazed me to see how powerful God’s Word is."
Maria says that learning those lessons from The Story of Hope is a great way to remember God’s plan of salvation from beginning to end, and she looks forward to sharing the stories she's learned with others even more.
"The Story of Hope" is an overview of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, that presents the salvation message in a special way. The material contains forty strategic Bible events, half taken from the New Testament and half from the Old Testament, all presented in such a way that they focus on major "life-and-death" truths found in the Bible. Because the stories can be presented visually, many "Story of Hope" participants appreciate its simple approach to communicating important biblical concepts in an easy-to-understand way--regardless of the listener's familiarity with the Bible or educational background--as opposed to more complex systems of Bible study.
"The Story of Hope" offers a systematic way of working through the Bible which is appealing both to believers wishing to grow their faith, and non-believers who don't know much about the Bible at all or who have misconceptions about who God is.
And that's exactly why SIM Ecuador introduced the "Stories of Hope" training in the rural town of Cariamanga, where the few evangelical churches and pastors sometimes struggle with discouragement. Like Maria, participants in the "Stories of Hope" training learned how to share the gospel in new ways with their friends and family members, many of whom know little about the Bible, and they also got the chance to see the gospel with fresh eyes. And sometimes, as in the case of Maria's "Genesis 3" friend, that new glimpse of truth was overwhelmingly beautiful.
Murray Greenwood, an SIM missionary to Ecuador who helped offer the presentation in Cariamanga, loved seeing local believers re-tell the Bible stories in their own words as they practiced with each other and really grasp big concepts of God's salvation story.
“It is so key for believers in this part of southern Ecuador to have a solid understanding of what they believe so that they can stand firm when confronted with false teachings of Unitarians, Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses," says Greenwood. "When they grasp God’s truth, it will outshine any falsehood.”
Pray for Loja
Would you pray for the rural areas of Loja Province, and for believers there to truly understand and courageously share the powerful truths found in the "Story of Hope"?
• Pray for believers who feel very isolated in this area with few evangelical churches.
• Pray for unity and encouragement among pastors and churches.
• Pray for more missionaries to serve in this part of the country.
If you feel like God could use you to pray more specifically for the people of Ecuador, donate to ministries like "The Story of Hope" to encourage small-town congregations, or serve along missionaries like Diaz and Greenwood to share the gospel in places like Ecuador, contact SIM.