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Left behind

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Mission trip to Ecuador makes lasting impact

By Greg Summers

HEATH SPRINGS – There’s a little piece of Lancaster in Tena, Ecuador, right now.

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If you don’t believe it, just ask someone from Flint Ridge Baptist Church.  That piece is there, all right – on the edge of the Amazon rain forest, and it’s there to stay.

That little piece of Lancaster?

It’s their hearts. They were left behind in a Bible that Peter Wing left with a 10-year-old boy named Jimmy after the two became friends.

“It didn’t take long for Zack Hinson to realize that playing soccer with youngsters in 6 inches of mud was where God wanted him to be.

“It changed me forever,” he said. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. They don’t have anything, but they are the happiest kids in the world. I knew I was meant to be there.”

In late July, Peter and Zack were among the 33 members of Flint Ridge Baptist Church, who, along with eight others from Kershaw First Baptist, Kershaw Second Baptist, Springdell Baptist and Pineview Baptist churches, saw their lives changed forever during a Global Expeditions mission trip to Tena. 

For some, it was their second visit to see Pastor Pablo Tayupanda, and his wife, Marcella.

Those who couldn’t go on the mission trip helped raise money so others could. Those who couldn’t help, prayed, said Michael Anderson, youth and children’s minister at Flint Ridge. 

“This has definitely become a God thing,” Anderson said. “He gets all the credit for any fruit that was planted by a group that did this to fulfill the ‘Great Commission.’”   

Fulfilling that command isn’t easy and it isn’t optional.

“God has given us a mandate to spread his love everywhere,” Anderson said. 

The average cost of the trip was $1,750 per person. However, Anderson, said it would have been more than that if Sunshine Rentals hadn’t provided a bus and driver free of charge to Miami.

Getting to Tena, was just one piece of the puzzle. Once they got there, the team quickly realized that “teaching all the nations in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost” was a bit daunting.

“God is definitely working in Ecuador,” said Kelli Cobb. “You are way outside your comfort zone.”

It’s especially daunting when it takes two translators to teach Vacation Bible School to more than 100 children who have never seen the end of the dirt road that runs through their town.

The mission field can be downright frightening when you are trying to reach others with a down and dirty hut-to-hut ministry that centers around cutting grass with machetes and doing dishes as a second team did. 

“We washed some nasty clothes in the name of Jesus,” said Greta Hinson. “But they came to VBS with their eyes wide open and I praise the Lord for that.”

Performing Christian dramas on outdoor volleyball courts in the midst of widespread gambling and drinking can be downright harrying, especially when it brings local commerce to a standstill.

“They didn’t know Jesus Christ, but they saw a picture of what it can be,” said Scottie Phillips.    

Seeing the basic needs the Tayupandas try to meet on a daily basis is an eye-opener, said Kami Fletcher

“Until this, I was in my own little world,” she said Fletcher. “But God took me out of it. The only regret is I have is waiting until the age of 41 to go on a mission trip. We live in our own little world with our own little perspective and we need to go.”   

Anderson said this won’t be the last time that a group from Flint Ridge will minister in Tena.

He compares it to the “Whale Wars” television series, whose crews leave their families and jobs behind for creatures without souls. 

“I think to myself how much more should we be willing to die to ourselves to carry God’s work to the ends of the earth,” Anderson said.

“It’s not about Flint Ridge or any other church. It’s not about Ecuador, either. It’s about going where God sends us to go and having faith to know he will equip us to do what he wants us to do.”