Update from Jim - Manta Faith In Action newsletter, Jan/Feb 2018
Jim - Manta Faith In Action newsletter, Jan/Feb 2018: As we write this letter, we find it hard to believe that the first month of 2018 has come and gone. How we appreciated all your Christmas cards and letters. We always enjoy and savor the family news many of you send. We thought of and prayed for those of you who lost loved ones this year and others of you who are going through difficult trials.
We were blessed in late November to visit Ecuador. How we enjoyed attending the annual national assembly of the church association with whom we partner. We were inspired by their faithfulness and perseverance and their deep desire to see God grow His church.
"I will walk by faith even when I cannot see." 2 Corinthians 5:7
Unshakeable Faith in Uncertain Times
As we pondered the unshakeable faith we saw in many of our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters who have endured years of ministry in difficult places and circumstances... poverty, sickness, unstable governments, earthquakes and even forms of persecutions. And yet, many have not only persevered but are flourishing as they pastor and shepherd others.
We think our brothers and sisters who persevere there and around the world have found the key... setting their minds on His kingdom and seeking it first.
We live in a very uncertain world no matter where we live. Our world seems to be spinning out of control morally, socially, and culturally.
Isaiah 33:6 "Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times." often reminds us to stop and examine our dependency on God.
Godly wisdom and knowledge give us an unshakeable faith even in the hardest of times. And, it gives us the confidence that there is an unshakeable kingdom reserved for us in heaven.
May this new year find us sharing the Good News with those who have yet to know that they, too, can have unshakeable faith in the midst of trials and uncertain times.
"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." Galatians 5:6
Though the Earth Shakes
Men, women and children living on the west coast of Ecuador will never forget where they were April 16, 2016 at 6:58 p.m. That is when a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook the ground beneath them. At least 673 people died, and more than 16,600 suffered injuries. And there were strong aftershocks above 6.0 for days, weeks and months.
Relief efforts came from all over the world in the months that followed. Desiring to help in those efforts, One Mission Society raised funds to assist those who were suffering so much. Many lost everything, and even those with homes were fearful of returning to unstable structures. OMS missionaries in Ecuador partnered with the church in Manta to feed and temporarily shelter many and minister to those who were fearful and hurting so deeply.
Life has resumed a normal pace in Manta, but many homes and churches still have not been rebuilt or repaired. OMS desires to help in the rebuilding process, but it has been a slow process due to meeting government requirements and prioritizing need.
Working with the church in Manta, we now have a list of 86 applications for restoring home and church structures. Four MFM teams have already helped with the rebuilding process. The church in Manta and pastor Julio have had a crucial role in helping those in need. Like the Early Church, people can look at them and say, "Look how they love others as they share with those in need and minister to their still aching hearts."
God who is rich in mercy is working through His Church and opening doors of opportunity to make His name known.
"The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian Service." Billy Graham
An Open Door
The doors are now open for OMS to help in rebuilding homes and lives. Men For Missions has approved the Manta Faith in Action project to assist OMS-Ecuador in the rebuilding of homes and churches in Manta. Nine work teams have been scheduled for 2018.
However, this presents a problem for the Ecuador field. Teams require assistance from missionaries on the field to work alongside them. For that reason, site coordinators were sought to help with the project. And, we were asked to be those on site coordinators.
Darryl Chambers, Field Leader for Ecuador, writes: "For the Ecuador field, we are very excited to have Jim and Sue Smith join us for the Manta building project. We have had many setbacks in our efforts to rebuild and help the people after the earthquake of April 2016. Jim and Sue as on-site coordinators will allow us to proceed with the plans we have developed. This is a great opportunity to have missionaries in Manta to help with the logistics and to be able to communicate with the local officials in doing the project within the regulations set by the local government. It will also take a great burden off the missionaries here in Ecuador to not have to leave growing and thriving ministries to lead groups that are coming to Manta. Jim and Sue spent years in Ecuador in the past and they are knowledgeable of both the language and the culture. This will be a great blessing as they lead teams. It has been a long and difficult process to go forward with the project, but with Jim and Sue here, the future is exciting in Manta."
We feel both blessed and honored to be a part of rebuilding Manta. Beyond all the reconstruction, there is also a great hope to grow the influence and outreach of the Gospel in the Manta region.
Jim just led a work team there in January. The team consisted of Canadians, Ecuadorians and Americans. They did repair work on a church that sustained wall damage from the quake. The pastor of the church had an ankle fracture and was in a wheelchair. The pastor and the church were so appreciative of the help.
We are scheduled to lead six more teams in 2018. These will be in April, July and October and will consist of two teams in each of the months. We will not be living in Ecuador but will be traveling to Ecuador when there are work teams scheduled. All of this is contingent on our having sufficient funds to cover our travel costs for these three trips. If you would like to give to our travel project you can designate your gift to: Jim and Sue Travel #407992 and give online here >>
“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Martin Luther King
But The Workers Are Few
Teams are scheduled but we lack people to fill those teams. We are praying God will call people to leave their comfort zones and go to Manta to give people the hope and love of Jesus as they use their hands to serve.
Is God calling you to be one of those people? Do you know others you can share this need with? Would a group from your church be interested in going? If so, please contact us >>
We are so thankful for your prayers that sustained us through another year and will sustain us in the year ahead as we step out into new paths of service for him.
Jim & Sue
Jim Smith, Teams & Follow-Up Leader
Men for Missions United States
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