Fighting for purity
By César Israel Rodriguez with Rebecka King | Ecuador in South America
SIM Ecuador member Cesar Israel shares about the rising need to resist sexual sins and fight for Christ-like purity.
For years God has been pressing on the hearts of SIM Ecuador team members to enter the battleground of people fighting addiction to pornography and sexual sin. The COVID-19 pandemic in Ecuador brought a complete lockdown and with it came even greater urgency for God’s redemption in this area.
When the lockdown began, we prayed as a team and asked: “God, in what ways can we continue to serve the youth of Loja, even when we cannot see them physically?”
It was then that a dear friend texted me saying, “Israel, I have lapsed again. I need help.” My friend had again fallen prey to the sin of pornography.
During the pandemic, we noticed a serious problem: Isolation was leading many young men like my friend to seek refuge in the destructive lies of sexual sin such as pornography. This led us to start a 31-day Bible challenge called ‘Fighting for Purity,’ which addressed the topic of sexual purity for men. For those 31 days, we meditated on the Word of God, prayed, cried, encouraged and challenged young men to find God’s freedom in the power of Christ to overcome this sin.
Through this initiative, God transformed lives!
After completing the challenge, one young man shared: “Social networks surround us at all times, and with each click you can open very tempting pages. I got to know a lot of things to combat the sin of pornography. I have learned practical tools and how to focus on God who is always with me. This helps me cope with that daily struggle and if I search for him, I will find peace.
Another man said: “I’m so thankful to God for what he did through this ministry. This journey helped me to understand that sin is devastating us. It affected me a lot, and I realised how it was destroying my relationships as well.
“We can’t liberate ourselves alone, and for me, it seemed that I had no way out. But during that challenge, I felt that we are fighting in company. The Lord has provided support through very blessed relationships. And above all, it impacted me to know that Jesus already paid for each of my sins and that his gospel cleanses us and restores our lives through his sacrifice, death and resurrection.”
"Jesus already paid for each of my sins and that his gospel cleanses us and restores our lives through his sacrifice, death and resurrection."
The battle for sexual purity was not finished when the challenge ended. We know that Satan continues to work to deceive us, and therefore, we must not stop fighting. I continue to meet with this group of men once a week to cultivate encouragement, prayer, Bible study, and maintained accountability. It is heartening to see some guys replicate this study with friends from local churches.
Additionally, three female co-workers from the SIM Ecuador team, Rebecka King, Rachel Wilson and Sandry Ludeña, started the same challenge with young ladies throughout Ecuador, meeting virtually and dealing with the struggle women also face in this area. Within just a couple of hours of publicising the women’s study, it was full. Now, there is a waiting list of 40.
The ladies have seen God working in incredible ways too. One woman said: “Every week, my mind and heart are breaking down the obstacles I have that keep me from treasuring and knowing God. Although the topic has been pornography, the study has been helpful in other areas of my life, like my relationship with God, and this has been very good for me.”
We are grateful that God is meeting these spiritual needs during this time. As it says in Matthew 25:35, the Lord welcomes us and helps us in our struggles: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me."
• that God continues to strengthen and encourage all the participants in their sexual purity as they are confronting this stronghold.
• God would use this initiative in the churches to transform more lives.
• for opportunities to reach out to youth through social media.