"They called us insane!"
The harvest is ripe in the rural area of Loja province. Read more about a couple in a small village finding freedom in Christ and about the challenges they face in their community.

By Christian Waidelich, Ecuador in South America

“How on earth can I find the way to heaven?” This was the crucial question driving Anibal and Josefina, an elderly couple, their whole life, marking it with spiritual restlessness. Their home village is deeply committed to the Roman Catholic traditions, which are mixed with lots of syncretistic (mixed with other non-Christian) beliefs. People visit Mass several times a week to confess, participate in rituals we don't consider biblical, and just hope it’s enough to please God. Especially Josefina, who went on a regular basis to the local church building, feeling closer to God and praying, “God, just show me the way to heaven” – obviously not knowing it. And she never got an answer there.

But step by step, God started working out His plan for this couple. First, He answered through their son who lives hundreds of kilometers away in the capital city. He met Jesus and told his parents. The couple started to ask themselves, "What is this Jesus all about?"

At this point, I want to introduce to you a lady called Alba. It has been several months since we started visiting her and her family, who are the only believers in her village of 2,000 people. We meet with them for a weekly Bible study and training time in discipleship and church planting. We pray together for an awakening in that village, and together we long to see people getting to know Christ and a church planted. Alba literally knows every soul in the village, and everybody knows that she and her family are believers. She felt that Aníbal and Josefina were searching for truth in their lives, and when Alba visited their grocery store right in the centre of the village, their conversations directed more and more to the core issue – Jesus Christ. One time when she visited Aníbal’s and Josefina’s store, Alba recognized that both had given their lives to Christ.

Just recently we met all together at Alba’s home. Aníbal and Josefina were full of peace and joy about their present and future hope, and they had heaps of questions. They’re feeling the freedom of a personal relationship with Christ instead of being captive in a religious system. During our first meeting, they would talk and talk and talk. No more worshiping statues and icons, no more working their way up to God and not knowing whether it’s enough at the end. No more dependency on human beings. More than ever they study vigorously God’s Word. We show them about our calling to be disciples making disciples and that now their lives exist to honor God instead of human made things. Let’s pray their little store will be a point of hope for many locals, because of their transformed lives.

But their decision had immediate consequences. “They call us insane! Some just pass by telling us that they are full of hate because we turned to Jesus!” said Josefina. There is religious freedom in Ecuador, but especially in rural areas of Loja Province, one doesn’t sense that. Turning their backs to the traditional Catholic church is equated to betrayal, leaving family behind, It's also perceived as arrogance if anyone questions the church's authority. This is an area where many lonely believers in rural parts need encouragement and support to stand on firm foundations. Once someone becomes a Christian, they face wrong doctrines and sects fishing among evangelicals. Let’s continue to give all the glory to God with our lives and with love towards our neighbor, but never ashamed of the true Gospel. The harvest is ripe, but there are few workers - so share the gospel boldly with everbody!