Alvaro sees the truth of Jesus
By Priscilla d'Varga and Carlos Ruiz | Ecuador in South America
Medical brigade workers help find glasses for Ecuadorian patients
Alvaro* had been an alcoholic for more than half of his life when he met Jesus for the first time.
He had known the mission workers for years, even renting them a building to start a small church, but had never really engaged with the gospel.
They had prayed consistently for Alvaro, who is in his 60s, but it was only when the medical brigade turned up in his remote Ecuadorian village that things began to change.
Carlos Ruiz, an SIM worker, explains: “The day of the brigade Álvaro came to ask for a pair of glasses because he couldn't see. After the check-up, in a place for prayers, I asked him if there was anything he wanted prayer for. He answered yes – "I want to stop drinking...I've been an alcoholic all my life...I've already tried everything".
“I asked him: ‘Would you like Jesus to help you quit alcohol?’ With great emotion Alvaro answered: "Yes, I want". In that moment Álvaro recognized his sins before God, repented and asked Jesus to come into his heart. That day Álvaro got saved.”
It is stories like that which inspire the work of Priscilla and Andy D’Varga, US workers in the Loja province of Ecuador. They work independently, but are in contact with SIM colleagues in the same region, and started the church which meets in Alvaro’s building.
But the path to that church beginning has never been smooth.
Priscilla says: “We are the first North Americans to live in our small town, where there has never been an evangelical congregation. To say that this area is closed to the gospel would be a very big understatement - there is not only resistance, but aggression to the presentation of the gospel.
“It took at least four of the last six years for people to accept us in the community and be friendly with us! After all these years of active evangelism and loving people, we finally have a small congregation in our town, but it is still very new, and there is still a lot of persecution!
“When we were presented with the opportunity to work with the medical brigade from the USA, we thought it would be a great opportunity to reach people who normally would not want interaction with us, and that is exactly what we witnessed.
“It was wonderful to work with fellow missionaries familiar with our local culture, but from other missions like SIM, who understood the challenges of reaching the people of Loja province. Several people who we had been reaching out to for years, and praying for all that time, made decisions for Christ while praying with these missionaries and with volunteers from the United States.”
In the five Loja villages visited by the medical brigade many people experienced Jesus in a special way, just as Alvaro did. God used this event to reach people who would not normally have contact with Christian workers.
Carlos said: “Álvaro came that day for glasses, so he could see. But his blindness was also spiritual. He found the light that is Jesus and that really gives sight to the spiritually blind.
“Working together as a team with people from different organisations and places made all this possible. It was beautiful, when we can see the body of Christ working together, across cultures and across organizations, to do exactly what Jesus called us to do: to share the good news with those who have never heard it!
“Alone we can do a little, but together we can turn the whole world upside down.”
* name changed
Thank God for the open doors to share the gospel with so many people in the different villages of Loja Province.
For the follow-up with the people who have heard the gospel and responded to it. May the Holy Spirit continue to work in their hearts and that the seeds would flourish to grow in a personal relationship with Jesus.
For the workers in Loja Province, who are visiting and connecting to the people who showed interest in studying the Bible and knowing God more. Pray too for their protection and guidance as they experience spiritual darkness and attacks.