Baños, Ecuador: 9 Months In
We’ve now been living in Baños, Ecuador for 9 months. It has been very difficult - more difficult than anticipated. We were head-knowledge prepared for ‘difficult’ due to close friends in the mission field…but the reality is always much different. The spiritual warfare is unlike anything we could have prepared for. It’s been a constant oppression; it's difficult to convey. It's a land where sorcery, witchcraft, demonic possession, and the oppressive anti-Gospel of the mystical Catholic church has flourished for years. The powers and principalities of darkness that reign here are doing everything they can to make us quit, make us question God, and block our witness & impact.
In the past, I'm afraid this kind of overwhelming darkness might have crushed us. However, it has made us dig deeper into the scriptures than ever before. In an even greater way, it's made us want to know scripture and proper theology & doctrine so that we can defend our faith and share the Gospel with an unbelieving, dark world. It's made our love for Jesus deeper. It's accomplished the exact opposite of what the enemy wanted to accomplish.
It has been ugly and hard. Never has the sin and the darkness of our own hearts been so exposed. Never have we seen such a deep need for Jesus and such a desperate need for a Savior. Never have we been so thankful for a Savior who loves us and has sealed us with the Holy Spirit. Never have we understood the need for the truth of scripture, the truth of the Gospel, and the fact that every word of scripture is God-breathed and all-encompassing truth.
That’s pretty strong language. ‘Why’ you may ask? For much of our time in Ecuador we have felt abandoned. We have felt like God doesn't see us. We have felt like He doesn't hear our prayers. In other words, we haven't 'felt' the Lord. We have experienced the presence of God but in small, brief moments. This is why we MUST NOT put our faith in feelings and experience or even what our heart might tell us (because it's a liar). We must put our faith in the Jesus and in His Word. That is the only truth that we can rely on. Never have we understood this more.
I was recently reading about why God chooses to hide Himself sometimes. It hit home. With brevity in mind, here are 5 reasons why God may choose to hide Himself:
- To try our faith
- To test our love
- To test the strength of our principles
- To test our confidence in His arrangements
- In order that we may seek Him
Nothing will expose you more than being yanked from your home culture and comforts and not being in control of your life. Of course God is always in control (we simply live under the illusion that we’re in control), but living in a culture where your previous ‘successes’ relied heavily on gifts and talents put to use in the business world…that doesn’t help you at all. In Ecuador, we’re at the mercy of a culture that doesn’t move quickly and relies much less on one’s will ‘to get things done’.
ALL of our missionary friends told us ‘don’t even consider ministry for a year…it takes a year to settle into culture and work-through the hardships of a new life’. ‘Nah, we’re different’, we thought. Purdy family meet Mr. Humbleness.
God obviously knows what He is doing. As of month 9, we still don’t have a hostel. As all of you know, we are dependent upon a business to live here and support ourselves. But in His wisdom, He knows that there would have been literally no way to own and run a hostel while traversing the difficulties. No way!
The hostel that we had anticipated renting did not work out for a variety of reasons. This was a bit surprising based on multiple, previous communications and conversations. We’ve looked at about a ½ dozen hostels but all were either too expensive and/or required too much restoration. Please pray for favor but not at the expense of God’s will for us. If He doesn’t want us in it, we are praying doors will not open and/or will be slam shut. This way of prayerfully approaching the hostel has certainly tested our faith & confidence in His arrangements.
A Reality Check
God calls us to deny self, to love truth and hate folly, to please God instead of others or ourselves—no matter what the cost in this life. (Hunt, Dave. Seeking and Finding God)
When you are in the midst of trials, being beat up by dark powers, and simply trying to survive it makes ministry incredibly difficult. How can we share the Gospel and offer hope and joy when we are struggling to have hope and joy? This has been a reality. We’ve discovered how much our circumstances determine our joy, not the Lord. This is not easy to admit. We’ve discovered how circumstances and cultural comforts of home can actually determine our joy although we often mistake it as joy in Jesus. This is a humbling reality that we have had to honestly assess.
Good News: Ministry
Only by the grace of God and even without the hostel we have had opportunity for ministry. We’ve shared the Gospel, engaged in hard conversations, and prayed with backpackers of all backgrounds and numerous countries. Israeli Jews to New Zealand atheists and South American New Agers. Atheists, agnostics, gnostics, Christians, practicing Jews, those who consider themselves ‘Christian’ but think any religion gives you access to God…we’ve encountered them all.
We’ve also spent a lot of time with both local believers and non-believers. Our love for cooking and gift of hospitality has allowed us to have close to 50 people from all walks of life and countries of origin into our home.
During the months of February and March, we were able to host 20 World Racers from the US, Central America, Europe and South Africa. We had multiple meals with as many 25 people. It was a lot of work but a lot of fun to bless them with home-cooked meals. One World Race team stayed with us for 3+ weeks and another team for 2+ weeks. It was exhausting but such a blessing to serve and bless them (in Donna’s words ‘the best kind of exhausted’). They also blessed us with community, encouragement and a team built us a much needed loft bed. We enjoyed large meals, fellowship, and worship. It was an enormous and much needed blessing for the kids. Isabella was even able to join them in Quito for a 3-day time of fellowship, learning, sharing, and worshiping with 3 World Race squads (approximately 200 people).
As most of you know, God gave us the enormous gift of our friend, William Morales. We would not have made it without William. We first met William on our initial pilgrimage to Baños in December 2016.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; Galatians 5:22-23
The fruits of the Spirit describe William. He has continually served us and loved us as he has served us as chauffer, bargainer, personal shopper, apartment finder, listener, prayer warrior, meal provider, and encourager. Literally everything that we possess, drive, or live in…William had a hand in helping us. Most of all, He loves The Lord with all his heart. It’s amazing that a short 15 months ago we had no idea of the existence of one another and now he is one of our dearest friends.
Months 1-4 were exceptionally difficult. Months 5-6 were hard as well, but with lightened burdens. Months 7-9 have been a steady improvement. God has been refining us and working during these first 9 months. Having been to mission school, William is getting to see first-hand the things he learned would happen when one embarks on a journey into the foreign mission field. We are thankful to be in a season of reprieve, at the moment, while still seeking a hostel and revenue for living.
We love the culture of Ecuador and particularly Baños. Our friends have told us, ‘you are the perfect family for living here…it’s like you are Ecuadorian’. Living much of our lives in South Louisiana prepared us for the culture here. The pace of life is much slower than America. You can see someone in town and end up spending 2 hours over a coffee. We enjoy this.
Necesitamos Sus Oraciones
- Pray that The Lord will continue to provide for us spiritually and financially.
- Pray that we will find the perfect hostel with a fair and ethical owner.
- Pray for our marriage and our kids. Pray that we will continue to love one another in the easier and more difficult times.
- Pray that the Lord will prepare people’s hearts for the Gospel and that we will hear His leading and obey.
- Pray for Caleb & Emily (our eldest & his fiancé) as they prepare for marriage on May 19.
Want more info? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grace & Peace