Joy in sharing the story of hope
The Bible is the Word of God, but we could also easily call it the "Book of Hope." We can see God at work and His plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ being unfolded throughout its pages. This is what many believers are understanding in a rural town of Loja. Read along to hear a testimony of the power of God’s Word in the hearts of his people, equipping them to better share the hope that is in them.

By By Karine Woldhuis and the ministry team "Equipping Church Leaders", Ecuador in South America

The moment to present the certificates had come. In true Latin style, everyone was excited to be at this closing ceremony. People smiled as leaders handed out certificates of completion, and they shook hands in congratulations before a time of fellowship.

“Maria approached me, coffee in hand,” said Tomas, an SIM missionary. "Her face was full of excitement as she shared her experience of ‘The Story of Hope’ training that we had recently completed.”

“Tomas," Maria said, “I needed to tell you that the week I had to practice presenting a part of The Story of Hope, I decided to share about the fall of mankind in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve sinned and the serpent tempted them. I approached a brother in Christ, remembering the story as best as I could, and told it to him. As I finished, I was astounded to see that my friend 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. Learning these lessons from the Story of Hope is a great way to remember God’s plan of salvation from beginning to end. I look forward to sharing the stories I've learned with others even more.”

After sharing this with Tomas, Maria asked for more tools to help her continue in this path of sharing with others.

A part of SIM Ecuador’s team has been focusing on supporting the small churches in the rural town of Cariamanga. Cariamanga offers a number of small evangelical churches in this town, but there have been problems of disunity and discouragement amongst the pastors.

As we talked with the pastors about how they would like us to support them, they requested that we help them with discipleship, so we gave them some ideas. Using the material ‘The Story of Hope’ - an overview of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation that presents the story of Salvation sharing the hope that we have in Christ - our team travelled in pairs over a period of three months to share these lessons with a group of believers from different churches there. We collaborated with local believers, teaching and helping train up others in their ability to share the gospel.

Murray, one of the SIM missionaries who was involved, shared how exciting it was to see these local believers really grasp these big concepts of God’s story of salvation and hear them re-tell the story in their own words as they practiced with each other. “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. When they grasp God’s truth, it will outshine any falsehood.”

- Pray for believers in rural areas of Loja Province that feel very isolated.
- Pray for unity between the pastors and churches in this area.
- Pray for more missionaries in rural areas of Loja Province.