Posted by: calloftheandes | June 21, 2022

A Fierce Tribe and Fierce Love by a Missionary Educator

by Sheila Leech

My friend, Pat, arrived home on February 21, 2021.

Her journey took some years. It took her to some interesting places – from Canada, her birthplace, to the United States and then to the Ecuadorian rainforest where she lived for many years serving the Waodani people whom she loved deeply and fiercely.

The final years of her journey, she spent serving in the best way she knew – loving and supporting the Waodani from afar and visiting them to give encouragement when able.

I met Pat in 1980 at the dedication of the newly translated New Testament in Tsafiqui, a language spoken by the Tsachila, an indigenous tribe in western Ecuador. Pat came with a bunch of Waodani believers and they sang in their distinctive three notes and brought greetings and warm wishes for the Tsachila who now would have “God’s new carvings” in their own language. They encouraged the Tsachila to continue to walk God’s trails as they themselves were now doing. Pat translated from their language into Spanish so we could understand.

I was fascinated by this white North American who was so at ease among the Waodani — these people who were once described as savages and members of “the most murderous tribe on the planet.” Over the years that followed, I got a closer look at Pat’s life and work and we became friends. She was an educator – passionate about facilitating learning amongst the Waodani in every and any way she could- through reading and songs and producing material and inspiring creativity.

I was privileged to travel deep into the heart of Waodani territory with her. To share monkey meat dinners, swinging in hammocks around smoky fires. To drink more than my share of the famous chicha (Pat didn’t like it so I often drank hers too). To sleep on the floor of palm-thatched huts. To walk muddy trails, to learn the names of Amazonian birds and plants, and to watch – and learn – from Pat Kelley and the way she lived her life.

I learned what faithfulness looks like.
I learned what simplicity looks like.
I learned what service, dedication and commitment look like.
I learned what humility looks like.
I learned what sacrifice looks like.
I learned about laughter and fun.
I learned about love and loss.
Pat (Cawo) Kelly never looked for anything for herself.
It was all about others.
Always. I learned from Cawo a bit more about what Jesus is like.

She was a legend .

by Ralph Kurtenbach

Arriving as a missionary nurse in Ecuador in late 1964, Sara Risser found and donned many additional hats during a missions career that spanned over five decades. She died in Lancaster, PA, on Sept. 25 after a two-month battle with leukemia. She was 84.

Born on Dec. 31, 1935, Risser had just turned 20 when, in 1956, an event occurred thousands of miles away that would shake the evangelical world and trace a trail before her. Five missionaries were speared to death while attempting to share the gospel with an unreached tribe in the Ecuadorian rainforest.

She felt called to mission work after listening to two of the missionaries’ widows at a church in Lancaster near her home in Bellaire. In 1957 she earned a nursing degree from Lancaster General Hospital School of Nursing and the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She later attained an administration and education degree from Bob Jones University.

Accepted as a missionary with Reach Beyond, Risser traveled to Costa Rica in mid-1964 to learn Spanish. Later that same year she arrived in Ecuador to work as a registered nurse at Hospital Vozandes-Quito (HVQ), soon rising to the position of nursing director and eventually healthcare director.

Risser sought to enact new programs and innovations in efforts that were not always met with approval. She also launched a prison ministry. “We developed a program for kids of inmates at the big men’s prison,” she told The Christian Post in a 2003 interview. “We had close to a hundred kids every Sunday, and we taught them God’s Word.” Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | December 2, 2020

Missionary Used Music, Media and Art to Share Christ

By Harold Goerzen

Born at home on Sept. 18, 1927, in Bazette, Texas, Travis Gowan died on June 11, 2020, after years of declining health, surrounded by his loving family in Atwater, Calif. He was 92.

Travis Gowan
(1927 – 2020)

Gowan was known as a “gentle, kind man, loved and respected by all who knew him.” He grew up in Arizona, graduating from Yuma High School in 1948. He married his high school sweetheart, Margaret Smith, in 1949, 71 years ago.

From the age of 19 he was active in ministry, serving as a youth evangelist, pastor and then a missionary with Reach Beyond in Quito and the U.S. Travis attended Rockmont College in Denver, Colo., later earning his bachelor’s degree from Northwest Nazarene College in Nampa, Idaho, and his master’s degree from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Ore.

Travis and Margaret Gowan

Travis used his creative gifts through music, radio, television and chalk painting. After 10 years in Quito, the couple returned to the U.S. to serve as mission representatives across North America. They moved to Malakoff, Texas, where they later retired and spent many years in their lake house on Cedar Creek Reservoir. Travis enjoyed fishing, long walks, taking care of his mother and the family property, supporting the church and other ministries along with working on his art. Some of his final art projects included etched and painted wooden plaques featuring buildings from across the East Texas countryside.

The Gowans were active members of First Baptist Church in Athens, Texas, for many years until they moved to Atwater, Calif., in 2008 to be closer to family. After a decade of simple living, they moved in with their daughter and son-in-law where Travis was surrounded by family. His son, John, and his wife, Sharon, continue to serve as Reach Beyond missionaries, preparing to move back to Quito after serving in Guatemala in recent years.

“There is no grieving here, just joy and rejoicing that he’s at home with our Savior,” said Margaret in an email message the day after her husband’s death. “I’ve been trying to imagine what he’s doing today after bowing in worship at the feet of Jesus— maybe picking up his walking stick and taking a stroll around heaven, looking it over! He was a very observant man, often picking up on things I didn’t see. And how he loved to walk!” A celebration of life service was held at First Baptist Church of Athens on Saturday, Oct. 24. “This was really a family reunion,” Margaret said. “Almost all my family was there from all over the country. It was wonderful also that Jim Allen drove from Dallas to take part in the service.”

Travis Gowan with his chalk talk art.

By Harold Goerzen

 Electricians may excel at solving technical problems rather than settling interpersonal disputes, but Dan Fluker proved to be an expert at both during his nine-year tenure with Reach Beyond.

“We first became friends with the Flukers in Quito,” wrote Canadian missionary Ian Leaver. “Dan was directing the Engineering Department, and I was assistant field director. We spent hours in meetings together, working through various ministry, administrative and department plans, challenges and differences. Ministry in a foreign country is a lot more complicated and difficult than it appears to those on the outside…. Yet even in the most challenging situations, Dan was always ready to work together to move ministry forward in the most God-honoring way possible.”

After 10 years of declining health, Daniel J. Fluker Sr. died on Aug. 12, 2020, at Turning Brook, an assisted living facility in Alpena, MI, with his family by his side. He was 74. Born in Detroit on June 12, 1946, Dan became a journeyman electrician and finished an associate degree in industrial management. He married Linda on March 5, 1971, and they had two children, Dan Jr. and Susan. He was working as an electrical superintendent at a hard board plant in Alpena when God called Dan and Linda to missions. After six months of Spanish language study in Costa Rica, the family arrived in Quito in mid-1983.

“Dan spent a lot of time in Papallacta overseeing the power generation plant,” Linda explained. “He also had a part in providing hot water to that little community from the hot springs and doing other outreach there. As part of his leadership role in the Engineering Department, he interacted with representatives from the country’s electrical company. One of those men later wrote Dan and Bill Wright, letting them know he received Christ.” Dan also drove the medical van occasionally and helped distribute Bibles as a Gideon. Linda served in the English Language Service, answering correspondence from listeners and preparing reels for programming. Read More…

Betty Van Engen, at right, helps pack up groceries and supplies to be delivered to people in Quito, Ecuador. On lockdown since mid-March, Ecuador has endured much loss of life to COVID-19. Pictured left to right: Geoff Kooistra (HCJB), Jennifer Pinho (Alliance Academy International), Holly Haskins, Samuel Blanco (Pan de Vida), Juan Carlos Blanco (Pan de Vida), Betty Van Engen (HCJB), Pete Emery (Extreme Response)

 By Ralph Kurtenbach

She is behind a surgical mask, but stands a head taller than other volunteers helping prepare grocery bags for those who need food during a nationwide lockdown in Ecuador. She is recognizable to those who know her. Nearing retirement, Betty Van Engen could face a tough case of the dread COVID-19 should she contract it—a fact not lost on her. She is, after all, a missionary nurse.

Her volunteer work at Pan de Vida (Bread of Life) in Ecuador goes on nonetheless, not without risk but without thought to self. She hadn’t been a regular volunteer at the neighboring outreach to Quito’s poor, but when a lockdown was imposed, she saw a need. Able-bodied and willing, she takes the necessary precautions and goes to lend a hand.

If you’d mention to her that she’s no spring chicken, she’d receive it in good humor, agreeing she’s no longer a pollito (little chick). Soon enough the Spanish would begin to flow—flawlessly spoken as she learned it as a child of missionaries in Chiapas, Mexico— and before long she’d lapse into laughter. It is a contagious laugh so robust that her eyes water and she needs to catch her breath.

Other than teenage boarding school years followed by college in Illinois and a few career years in the Chicago suburbs, Van Engen has spent her life in Latin America. She has served with Reach Beyond for four decades, now on loan to HCJB-Ecuador.

Betty Van Engen

“At the age of nine years old in a service when my father was preaching, I sensed God saying, ‘Someday you will be like your father.’” Van Engen recounted, adding that her involvement in Christian work continued as she matured. “Then in nursing school I was involved with two short-term mission assignments. During and after these experiences I sensed that God continued to affirm the message I received at the age of nine, saying, ‘I want you to serve me as a nurse giving back to others the great love that I have given you in your heart and life.’”

“When I joined World Radio Missionary Fellowship (Reach Beyond) in February 1980, I signed on for a three-year period,” Van Engen related. “As a young person, even that seemed very long. She requested the organization’s approval to visit family in the U.S. mid-term. “At the end of that three-year period, I realized God still had a place for me to serve here in Ecuador. So, I signed up for three more years, and that has repeated itself and now it is 40 years.”

Her earliest assignment was at Hospital Vozandes Quito (HVQ) in Ecuador. Asked about specific challenges, she recalled a period of relationship stress with work colleagues. Discouraged, she reached a point at which she thought of resigning her assignment. “One of my co-workers allowed me to share my struggles and gave me some valuable insight, and recommended I wait with my decision,” Van Engen said. “I found myself seeking help, and some months later things changed for the better.” Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | May 16, 2019

God’s Call to the Yanomamö Indians in the Amazonas

by Jeff Thompson. Used with Permission of ASSIST News Service

Michael Dawson is a missionary to the Yanomamö Indians in the Amazonas region of Venezuela. Michael was born in the middle of the Amazon jungle at TamaTama, a small mission base hacked out of the rainforest on the banks of the Orinoco river. He is the fifth of 10 children born to Joe and Millie Dawson who were among the first missionaries to the Yanomamo tribe. His first language was Yanomamö and he learned English when he was seven years old.

After graduating high school he worked for two years on the upper Orinoco river system, taking portions of the New Testament to remote villages. The Yanomamö language contains many dialects and his purpose was to determine which regions could understand the dialect of the Bible translation.

He returned to the US for Bible School training in 1976 and finished missionary training three years later. He then spent a year in flight training. Michael married Renée Pintor in September, 1980 and they left for Venezuela in January of 1981. They made disciples among the new Yanomamö believers, traveling with them to different villages showing them how to evangelize their own people. They have three boys, Joshua, Ryan, and Stephen.

In June of 1992, Renée went to be with the Lord after an attack of cerebral malaria. Michael was also stricken at the same time. They were both evacuated to Caracas, but Renée did not recover. She is buried in the base village of Coshilowäteli. On her headstone are the words “She lives in our hearts as a penetrating reminder that not only is Christ worth living for, He is worth dying for.” Read More…

Soldiers, missionaries and guides entered the Ecuadorian jungle in early 1956 after contact was lost with five missionaries who had gone in to encounter a tribal group.

by R.V. Kurtenbach

In early 1956 Bub Borman faced a decision. Word earlier that day in Ecuador had said communication was lost between his missionary friends deep in the jungle and their base station at Shell in Pastaza province.

Pilot Nate Saint had flown fellow missionaries Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully and Roger Youderian to a river sandbar in territory of the notoriously hostile Waorani people, then known by the Quichua language term Auca, which means “savage.”

Bub Borman, a member of the 1956 search party that found and buried missionaries speared to death in the jungle of Ecuador.

The Search Or Safety? Family or His Friends?

With a search team forming, would Bub go along? “I was scared, to be honest,” Borman wrote years later. “The Aucas had evidently killed five personal friends of mine.”  He could cite an Old Testament exemption from military service for the newly married as adequate rationale for staying back. Just months earlier, Bub and his wife, Bobbie, had become parents to a son, Randy.

He continued wrestling with the question as he rode with his family to Shell. Then later, he found himself on a plane to a missionary outpost at Arajuno. “Whether I’d said ‘yes’ in my heart or not,” he later told, “I’d brought my .38 pistol and my .22 rifle along.”

Bub Borman (right) and other missionaries of the search party that entered the Ecuadorian jungle in January 1956.

“Well, I’d forgotten to bring a hat!” he continued. “However, [McCully’s wife] Mary Lou loaned me one of her old straw hats, rather feminine with round crown and attached straw flower. I took off the flower and rolled the brim to disguise the looks of the hat and started off down the Arajuno airstrip with Don Johnson and Dee Short.” The missionaries were accompanied by 13 Ecuadorian soldiers—who had volunteered—and eight Quichua Indian guides. *

They spent the first night in the jungle, coming to the ravaged airplane the following day on the shore of the Curaray River. Missionary physician Art Johnston checked for identification the missionaries’ bodies they found, making notes on jewelry and other items to take to the men’s widows.

“Between his [Jim Elliot’s] body and the shore, Nate’s Rolleiflex camera was found,” Borman wrote, adding that although partially damaged, the film proved useful in telling of the men’s deaths. Some of Saint’s photos appeared in a LIFE magazine story of the men’s deaths while trying to reach the Waorani with the gospel.

Signatures of Bub Borman and Don Johnson on photo at the right. The photos by LIFE photographer were published in the book Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot, whose husband was one of the men speared to death.

Burying the Dead Buried As A Storm Blows In

Using as litters the tin roofing Saint had flown in to construct rustic shelters, Borman and the others slid the dead into a grave. “Rain began to fall from the dark sky as dirt was pushed in and Frank Drown began a short service and prayer,” he wrote.

“The wind blew, and gave the impression of Satan seeking to make one last assault,” he continued. “We heard a noise and saw the helicopter come in low over the beach, drop a passenger and turn tail running out ahead of the dark storm front. The passenger proved to be LIFE photographer Cornell Capa.”

After Colonel Nurnburg’s departure via helicopter the following morning, security slackened among the searchers during their walk to the mission station at Arajuno. “The Aucas could have picked us off one at a time like in a shooting gallery,” Borman recounted.

“I found myself alone once and then heard a stick break somewhere back in the jungle,” he said. “No Auca would have done that, however, and as I waited in the shadow of a tree, I saw Jack Shalenko climb down off an old Shell Oil Company bridge abutment and come toward me on the trail. I stepped out and joined him and we went on to Arajuno together.” Read More…

Bub Borman and his wife, Bobbie, learned to hear, speak and write the Cofan language during 36 years of translation work in Ecuador near the border with Colombia.

by R.V. Kurtenbach

As the float plane’s pilot passed over Dureno in northern Ecuador, Bub Borman cast a his first view on a village of Cofán Indians in 1955. After they landed, he had an amiable conversation with the village chief, Guillermo.

For Bub and his wife, Bobbie, what followed in the next several decades was a profound understanding of the language and culture of the Cofáns, as well as insights into people’s lives, their families and aspirations, their hopes and sorrows. After learning the language, the Bormans established an alphabet of its sounds. Literacy among the Cofán followed. Then with help from tribe members trained as translators, Bub assembled the Cofán New Testament as well as the abridged Old Testament.

He applied himself to these task with the same devotion and diligence that he had manifested since his childhood in St. Charles, Ill. Born to Elmer and Lavina Borman on May 2, 1926, he was called Marlytte. Family lore cites his paternal grandfather as reacting to the name with, “Poor little guy, who gets such an awful name.” Called “Bub” in childhood, he made it his legal middle name later in life.

Accompanying his father to job sites, Borman learned house construction. He developed practical outdoor skills and had a knack for fishing and shooting. After taking his kit-made kayak out for a test run, he returned home sad to have been alone on the water. His younger sister, Lynn, was easily convinced to buy his kayak, allowing him to order and assemble another kayak. The two siblings enjoyed being outdoors together, whether it was fishing, exploring or kayaking.

Bub Borman with his sister, Lynn.

As a teenager, Borman found forgiveness of sin and direction for his life through a relationship with Jesus Christ. He joined Chapelstreet Church (formerly called First Baptist of Geneva) in Geneva, Ill. During these years, he also developed a passion for airplanes and aeronautics. He built models of warplanes for use in military identification classes.

Borman graduated in 1944 at the top of his high school class.  After joining the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF), he was trained in radio operations. Upon his discharge, Borman’s GI Bill benefits funded his education at Columbia International University (formerly Columbia Bible College) in Columbia, S.C. He also continued to take flying lessons.

While in college, he struggled through classes in Greek, even as he found Spanish a challenge during high school (where he attained straight A’s nonetheless.)  Guiding Borman and giving him success was his belief that upon undertaking an endeavor, he would determine to do his best and carry through on the commitment.

Following Bible school, he sensed God’s prompting to serve in overseas missions. The newly formed Jungle Aviation and Radio Service (JAARS) of Wycliffe Bible Translators attracted Borman, whose skills included airplane flight and mechanics, radio operations and Bible. He accepted a JAARS assignment in Peru. He lacked flight hours possessed by other pilots, but enthusiastically embraced such flight-related jobs as co-pilot, radio operator and plane mechanic. Read More…

By Ralph Kurtenbach

The melodic voice of Ruthie Jordan captivated shortwave enthusiasts over the years, even as her listening ear captured the hearts of fellow missionaries and staff at Radio HCJB in Ecuador.

“She was an excellent listener and quietly asked you questions about yourself and whatever you were trying to process or tell her about,” said Mary Gardeen, a longtime missionary serving in Ecuador. “I think that was a real gift she gave to many people. She listened very well.”

“She encouraged me many times,” said Reach Beyond retiree Denise Zambrano, replying to Genie Jordan’s Facebook announcement of his mother’s September 3 death. “I loved working with her in the English Language Service [of HCJB]. She always had great advice.”

Ruth Wilma Stam—“Ruthie” to friends and family, was born in Paterson, New Jersey to Peter and Margaret Stam on May 7, 1924. The family moved to Narberth, Penn., near Philadelphia, where Peter Stam assisted Philip Howard in publishing the Sunday School Times.

Ruthie Jordan spent her childhood in Narberth, Penn. and Wheaton, Ill.

She grew up with a strong influence of evangelism and missions. To Ruthie, the 1934 killings in Anhui Province, China of missionaries John and Betty Stam were the loss of “Uncle John and Aunt Betty.” Her four-month-old cousin, Helen Stam, was found alive and rescued by Chinese Christians.

When Peter Stam became a Wheaton College dean, the family moved to Wheaton, Ill. Ruthie later reminisced about rolling and mailing Sword of the Lord newspapers published there by her father’s friend, John R. Rice, an evangelist and preacher. The newspaper’s circulation grew from 30,000 in 1940 to 50,000 in 1946 and continued upwards. After high school, she studied anthropology at Wheaton College, where she sang with the women’s glee club.

Ruthie Jordan as a student at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill.

“A fun story that her friends heard many times,” said daughter Peggy Hage, “is that Mom met Dad on the train in Chicago. He was humming a Christian song; they started talking and as they say, the rest is history.” Even as Gene and Ruthie became aware of each other, they learned from HCJB co-founder Reuben Larson about the Ecuador-based Christian shortwave radio station. Working at at Moody Radio in Chicago, Gene was also performing music for Youth for Christ and Billy Graham evangelistic events, according to Genie, who serves with Mission Aviation Fellowship in Nampa, Idaho.

“Billy Graham bought my mom’s wedding band and engagement ring for my dad in Holland,” Genie Jordan said, explaining that Gene provided music at Graham’s 1947 campaign in the Netherlands. “Billy ‘knew a guy’; Dad gave him the money.”

The Jordans travelled in 1951 to Ecuador, where the mission’s co-founder and president, Clarence Jones, informed them where they’d be living and what hours they’d be on the air at the radio station. “She said you really didn’t bargain or try to change his mind,” said Reach Beyond International Ministries Vice President Curt Cole.

Several years after the Jordans’ arrival in Quito, five U.S. missionaries were speared to death in the Ecuadorian rainforest in an effort to evangelize a group known to outsiders as “Aucas”, which means savages. (The tribe referred to themselves as “Waorani”, which means “the people”.)

Ruthie’s friendship with one of the widows, Elisabeth (Howard) Elliot went back to Philadelphia when their fathers worked at the Sunday School Times. Elliot’s book, Through Gates of Splendor, recounted the lead-up to the 1956 killings of her husband and the other men. Read More…

by Ralph Kurtenbach

Watching from the opposite shore of the Curaray River, Dawä witnessed the fatal spearings of five young missionaries by six Waorani, including her husband, Kimo Yeti (also spelled Kemo or Quemo). In the aftermath of the 1956 attack in Ecuador’s rainforest —the plane’s canvas wings shredded, one victim face down, partially submerged in the river—also lay the body of missionary pilot Nate Saint.

Dawa in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador (Photo by Brian Reed, I-TEC. Used with permission.)

The announcement decades later of Dawä’s own death came from Saint’s son, Steve. His weblog entry affectionately remembers the Waorani woman as “Dawä, My Tribal Grandmother.” He said her July 15 death had resulted from complications of gall bladder surgery in a Puyo hospital, at the edge of Ecuador’s Amazon region.

Decades on, people take varied perspectives on the efforts by Saint’s father, along with Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully and Roger Youderian to contact the indigenous group then known as savages, or Aucas. However, at the heart of matter lies an undeniable—and to many unexplainable—fact: forgiveness of the killers by the missionaries’ surviving family members.

“The prayers of the widows themselves,” wrote Elisabeth Elliot in the 1957 book, Through Gates of Splendor, “are for the Aucas. We look forward to the day when these savages will join us in Christian praise.”

Dawä was born in about 1935. Her world carried a constant threat of attack or reprisals by other Waorani. At eight years old or so, she survived one such killing spree that left many of her immediate family dead. Kimo, who helped to carry out the raid, then took her as a child bride.

In the 1956 missionary killings, Dawä had hidden in the jungle, later relating her helplessness to end the massacre. In the skirmish, a missionary’s weapon discharged, injuring her wrist, according to one account. She later considered it a warning shot not intended for her, since she was well concealed.

Two years later a Waorani runaway, Dayömæ “Dayuma” Cænto, returned to the tribe. She was accompanied by Nate Saint’s sister, Rachel Saint, and Elisabeth Elliot. Read More…

By Ralph Kurtenbach

The strings of the guitar have stilled, vibrating no more. The hands that had held it were those of Daniel Dossmann, who died on Aug. 8 in Fairfield Glade, Tenn. He was 77.

Françoise and Daniel Dossmann

Born in Nazi-occupied France in 1941, Dossmann spent his childhood in the Paris arrondissement (district) No. 3. During the mid-1960s as a young conscript in France’s army, he was among the troops sent to quell armed revolts by the Front de Libération Nationale (National Liberation Front or FLN) in Algeria.

He would say later that he made a poor soldier. However, his deployment to the North Africa desert lent opportunity to consider life’s bigger questions. Beneath a starry sky, he asked himself why he was made and what his purpose on the Earth was. It was for him, the beginning of a search for God.

“I met Daniel when I was 16 years old in a guitar class in a music school in Paris,” Dossmann’s widow, Françoise said. They were married on April 6, 1968, and began life as a couple in arrondissement  No. 10. In 1969, Dossmann and several other men formed Les Ménestriers (The Minstrels), a pioneering French medieval folk band. He played two stringed instruments, the pandura and the cittern, which has a shallow, pear-shaped body and an asymmetrical neck. Les Ménestriers recorded three albums during Dossmann’s tenure with them.

The Dossmanns’ search for God led them to yoga and a short visit in 1972 to India with Oliver to study Eastern mysticism. “When I first met him, when we dated, when we got married and two years later when [our son] Oliver was born, Daniel smiled very little,” Françoise said. “There was a very deep sadness in him and searching for God was the main goal of our lives. Everything changed when we became Christians at the end of 1973, five years after we were married.”

All the works of Johann Sebastian Bach —in particular the St Matthew Passion— moved Daniel, whose conversion to Christianity followed his acceptance of the Bible’s veracity. “There was no influence from anybody,” Françoise said. “It was only God who revealed himself to us through the reading of the Bible, discovering the gospel message and what Jesus Christ had done for us.” A few years later, Daniel wrote a book, Le Yoga Face à la Bible, (Yoga Face to Face with the Bible) to document their pilgrimage to God’s grace and forgiveness. Read More…

Dave Landers, left, visits with his cousin and fellow Reach Beyond missionary retiree, Marty Erickson, at a mid-2009 mission reunion in Colorado Springs, Colo.

By Ralph Kurtenbach

What was needed for—in a school administrator’s assessment—the most poorly behaved class in the history of Alliance Academy International (AAI) in Ecuador? Why, one of the best of course—a young California teacher named Dave Landers.

Others had tried to rein in the young people. They had faced off in a setting where “the girls were bright and beautiful but were generally under-appreciated and overwhelmed in a classroom dominated by strong male personalities,” according to Tim Erdel, an AAI alumnus who was one of them.

Beleaguered teachers had abandoned the homeroom (one of them at semester break) and left the school; some even left the teaching profession altogether. Gang activity had surfaced  in the dorms for children of missionaries. It was the 1960s and To Sir With Love was yet to hit the screen. But a plot line paralleling that of the popular movie played out within the tightly-knit evangelical missionary community in Quito, Ecuador.

“When Uncle Dave arrived and took charge. . . both he and we thrived,” continued Erdel, interviewed via email after Landers’ death of heart and renal failure. In answering about Landers, he alternately used the honorific “mister” and the familiar “uncle” then customary in the Ecuador expat missionary community.

“All sorts of things were possible with Uncle Dave around,” Erdel said. His fellow seventh graders—despite height disadvantages—beat those of eighth grade in basketball. Landers’ encouragement motivated middle school kids to defeat high schoolers in a skating competition. An eighth grade Student Council candidate won an upset victory over an opponent who went on to be recognized as Outstanding Senior and as valedictorian at graduation.

David Landers 1933 – 2018

Erdel, now a college professor in Indiana, was enrolled with Steve Saint, whose father, Nate Saint, had been speared to death with four other missionaries in Ecuador’s Amazon region in 1956. These deaths motivated many evangelicals to volunteer for career missionary work. Other students were the children of missionaries, businessmen and embassy workers.

Born February 26, 1933, Landers lived with his parents and a younger brother for a time on the Samoan Islands in the Pacific. His mother was a cousin to Nate Saint’s wife, Marj. The family was in Hawaii in 1941 when Pearl Harbor came under attack.

After high school, he studied at the University of California-Berkeley and later received a degree in Bible from the San Francisco Baptist College.

Nate [Saint] took Dave and me on plane rides in the Piper Family Cruiser on separate occasions in the early ’50s,” said Landers’ cousin, Marty Erickson. “It was a direct result of that encounter and Marj’s frequent letters that influenced Dave to go to Ecuador with [his wife] Kay and son, Jay in 1958. My wife and I followed that influence years later in 1969.” Read More…

With a quiet demeanor and steady devotion accompanying her skilled hands, Darlene Peters served God as a mission worker for more than 50 years.

Across the decades, it became evident to those around her that Darlene had fixed her focus on a distant horizon. Amid the life’s rhythms of her daily work, she kept an eye to the things eternal. As she served others in practical ways, she served Christ, whom she had received as Savior as a little girl growing up in Michigan.

Darlene Peters (1938 – 2018) with her husband, Doug Peters.

On March 29, 2018, Darlene succumbed to the colon cancer she had been diagnosed with several months earlier.  “Though she was hopeful of getting better at first,” a friend, Karen Miller said, “following surgery she was very realistic about her status—soon to be with her Savior. Her faith was strong, which gave her perfect peace.”

Born on September 17, 1938 to Darwin and Lillian Kimmer, she grew up on the outskirts of Albion, Mich., where Darwin worked as a city fireman. She busied herself on the family’s farm, picking and selling strawberries in the summer and helping her father trim Christmas trees in the winter. Capable and bright, she taught herself to play the piano without the advantage of an instructor.

Her decision to follow Jesus at a young age served to guide her career later in life. After completing high school in 1956, she studied at Northwestern College (now the University of Northwestern St. Paul, Minn.), completing her education in 1958. She married Doug Peters on August 20, 1960. As missionaries with Reach Beyond (then known as HCJB – The Voice of the Andes) they learned Spanish in Costa Rica. They began work in Quito, Ecuador in December 1962.

Darlene quickly learned to get along without the modern conveniences that she had known in the United States. She and Doug often opened their home to other missionaries and to visitors from abroad.

Her mission work in HCJB’s English Language Service saw her reading, routing and helping respond to letters sent by shortwave radio listeners around the world. She also auditioned recorded programs that ministries sent for airing on the station and sang in the mission’s choir.

Karen Miller and her husband were visiting missionaries in Shell, Ecuador in 1974 when the Peterses volunteered to show them the hospital—where Doug worked in administration—and the Nate Saint Memorial School. “Hospitable must have been their middle names,” Miller observed, “as we were made to feel comfortable and welcome, including a lovely meal in their home.” Sufficiently impressed by Doug and Darlene’s approach to their Savior, their work and guests, the Millers began giving mission support to the mission and to the Peters family. Read More…

Members of the first class of a chaplaincy specialization program are photographed and interviewed before their graduation ceremony in February 2018.

When a need arises for medical attention requiring a hospital stay, there are ways to make the time pass more pleasantly and even to one’s benefit. In Ecuador’s capital city of Quito, participants in a new chaplaincy program hope to optimize a patient’s experience.

Twenty-five adult education students are learning how a chaplain’s involvement may contribute toward a patient’s wellbeing and recovery. The start of their training in March represents a second group of chaplaincy aspirants, following the February graduation of the inaugural class of students.

Two entities, Hospital Vozandes Quito (HVQ) and Seminario Sudamericano (South American Seminary or SEMISUD) collaborated on designing and implementing the course. HVQ chaplains assist adjunct instructors in the teaching.

The chaplaincy program designed for pastors and lay leaders who want to better integrate spiritual with a patient’s medical care. Additionally, the concerns and needs of a patient’s family are also considered. Hospitalization represents an opportunity for people to hear and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The only such curriculum in Ecuador, it is a for-credit, specialized program that costs participants $1,000. The course includes 10 three-day modules and covers such topics as “Intervention during a Crisis,” “Ministry during a Terminal Illness,” and “Caring for the Caregiver.”

L-R: Chaplains Alexis Astudillo, Galo Carrión and Jorge Rea with Gary Gardeen at their devotional time.

Alexis Astudillo, a pastor and clinical family counselor, is heading up the chaplaincy learning initiative, according to Reach Beyond missionary Gary Gardeen. (Reach Beyond is the parent organization to HVQ, which first began tending to patient needs in October 1955.) Gardeen and his wife, Mary, returned to Ecuador and HVQ upon Gary’s retirement as executive director of a continuing care retirement community in their home state of Minnesota. Prior to that work in the United States, they had served as missionaries in Quito, where Gary was the hospital’s administrator.

As word spreads about the HVQ/SEMISUD chaplaincy specialization program, those enrolled in the second training class include people from Brazil, Cuba, Switzerland and Honduras, along with Ecuadorians, according to Gardeen, adding that there is a waiting list to take the course.

Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | March 28, 2018

Even Losses Gave Marian Houghton Victorious Missions Career

Upon departing her country of service, a missionary woman leaves behind a bit of herself—a bed of flowers, a brightly-painted kitchen, or most likely, the friends found in that distant land.

Marian Houghton left more. A longtime missionary to Ecuador, she left her own flesh and blood. Two of the Houghton children, Barbara and David, died on the mission field.

“We have two babies buried in Colta,” she later recounted, putting the loss in a positive light because it drew her closer to those she served. If Marian faced Job-like questions, she never yielded to such obstacles. Trust in God was not obscured; the path of obedience to Him, though arduous, was not obstructed.

In a career that culminated in a 1995 retirement in Silverdale, Washington, she and her husband, Stan, served God by serving the indigenous—first the Shuar and then the Quichua people. If there remained any vestiges of doubt about God’s dealings with her, these were erased on February 13, 2018. She died at age 90, outliving Stan by just 45 days. They were married for over 65 years.

Marian Houghton 1927 – 2018

Marian Grace Loewen was born to John D. and Anna Loewen on December 25, 1927 in Steinbach, Manitoba. The family lived in Steinbach and for a few years, in St. Anne. In her adolescent years, she referred to her group of Christian young people as “the gang”. Upon completing high school, she attended Steinbach Bible School, and then taught school for a year near Gypsumville, Manitoba.

Commissioned for mission work at age 22 by the Evangelical Mennonite Conference (EMC)-Steinbach, she arrived as a single missionary in Ecuador in 1950. Upon reaching the highlands province of Chimborazo, she witnessed women clad in layers of clothing to protect from the cold. She was thankful for not being stationed there, and said so in a prayer to God.
“I was heading for the jungle to do pioneer missionary work,” she later wrote. “Little did I realize that less than two years later I would be back in this cold area to spend many happy years.”

Her first assignment with Avant (then Gospel Missionary Union) placed her with another single woman, Dorothy Walker, at Macuma. At one point, the industrious and innovative women had built themselves a shower, based on missionary pilot Nate Saint’s instructions over the radio. According to the book, Jungle Pilot, they informed Saint of the shower’s malfunction. It was only then that Saint said they would need to ream out the fiber joints of a bamboo shaft that served as a drainpipe.

In the Ecuadorian rainforest, Marian became acquainted with the physical devastation and suffering of leishmaniasis, a tropical disease from a fly bite. It can eat away the cartilage of the nose and mouth. In addition to dispensing medicine to fight this malady, she also supervised food distribution at a mission boys’ school.

Stan and Marian Houghton

Marian and Stan married on May 18, 1952 in Shell, at the edge of the Ecuadorian rain forest. They moved to Caliata, a small mountain village, where they studied the Quichua language and tended to a small clinic. Their first child, Barbara Fay, lived just seven months.

A few years later while on home ministry assignment in North America, they learned that Saint was among five missionary men speared to death by the then unreached Waorani of Ecuador. Of the five, Marian wrote, “We knew all of them. How could we grasp that they were gone?”

Back in Ecuador, Stan’s construction skills took them to Pulucate, a mission outreach station to the highland Quichua. Single women had served there, followed by a family. As with decades of earlier evangelism among this people group, the work showed little progress and the family left. “Within a year after the foreigners moved out,” Marian recounted, “there were four churches in that valley, with more than 400 Christians.” Read More…

Note: Clean drinking water changes lives, but the numbers of those still living without it—more than 663 million according to UN statistics—is still far too high. However, with every new system offering people safe water, the statistic edges a fraction lower. Three Reach Beyond missionaries, Wim de Groen, Vinicio Salazar and Hermann Schirmacher, joined the people of Iwia, Ecuador on March 1 to inaugurate the village’s new clean water system. Here is how they helped to celebrate a community landmark.

Reach Beyond missionaries, Wim de Groen, Vinicio Salazar and Hermann Schirmacher, with the residents of Iwia, Ecuador

Make no mistake about it; children represent the biggest age group in the village of Iwia deep within the rainforest of Ecuador. To inaugurate the community’s clean water system, the children’s families and Reach Beyond missionaries celebrated. This was done with speeches, drama, dance, eating and drinking chicha—a slightly fermented beverage made by combining water and yucca that women have chewed.

Photos of the joyful event show dozens of dark-haired girls and boys. One youngster is drinking water from a faucet. “The water flows now by gravity into the community, without any pumps,” said Hermann Schirmacher, the mission’s associate regional director in Latin America. “Every house has a spigot in the backyard with clean, fresh water.”

“We are happy that Iwia has a water system,” added Wim de Groen, who directs the mission’s community development department, “and even more joyful for the water’s daily example of Jesus as living water to a thirsty soul.” Not only clear as it gushes from the faucet, the water is also safe. In contrast, dirty water brings diarrhea, a fluid-depleting malady that weakens the body and can even cause death. Children are especially vulnerable once their balance of electrolytes is compromised. The biggest beneficiaries of Iwia’s clean water system are the village’s smallest—the children.

Worldwide, diarrhea caused by dirty water and poor toilets kills a child under age five every two minutes, according to WASHWatch, a data site for several organizations including the World Health Organization and the United Nations. For some people, clean water means life itself and for others, it comes in the benefits offered by an adequate education. Around the world as many as 443 million school days are lost annually because of water-related illnesses, according to a report in 2006 by Human Development Report.

“Modern medical treatment and drugs, provided primarily by missionaries, reduced mortality rates, especially among infants,” wrote New Mexico historian Allen Gerlach in the book, Indians, Oil and Politics. In his speech to launch the water system, Jorge Karinkia, an Iwia community leader, described the community’s advances. “Our ancestors probably would never believe if we could tell them today about the many changes we have seen during the last 50 to 70 years,” he said. Read More…

Luis Santillan of Radio HCJB talks to Quichua listeners of Ecuador

As radio sharathons go, Radio HCJB’s Mision Compartida (Sharing the Mission) stands apart from other broadcast fundraisers. It occurs each year in the Ecuadorian cities of Quito and Guayaquil.

In the wee hours, Luis Santillan opens the microphone. After talking of Quichua-language music he has played, he looks at his smartphone and reads out some greetings. Many listeners prefer messaging on WhatsApp, a social media application. He shares their comments over the air before ending his programming to make way for Spanish-language broadcasts.

Meanwhile several hours earlier on the lawn outside, Santillan and his corps of volunteers had shut down their tent after receiving donations throughout the day. In-kind gifts have been a unique aspect of the Ecuador sharathon since it first began —eggs, honey, grains, farm animals, even a vehicle. Of more than a dozen indigenous groups in Ecuador, the majority are Quichua who live in the highlands and in the valleys of the Sierra region.

Anabella Cabezas

The station’s director is an Ecuadorian, Anabella Cabezas. She recounted how an elderly Quichua had brought in a radio, thinking it was broken. The staff had to say that no, it was not the radio. Instead, HCJB had left the AM band in late 2016.
“What we do through Mision Compartida for the Quichua listeners,” Cabezas explained, “is give them mp3 players with programming in Quichua.” The audio files offer both music and Bible readings. Asked if these players go to the youth as well, she replied, “No they are listening to us by our [station’s] app.”

The goal, according to Cabezas, is to converge the station’s various means of communicating into a “radio web.” It will require of the media outlet, a higher Internet profile and “not only our programming in audio but. . .more and more content that can be used in any way the listener or people on the web can decide to use it,” she said. Specifically, young people gravitate toward viewing videos.

Prayer makes up a vital component of Mision Compartida as well, initially in the months leading up to the event and also during the open house on the grounds. “When they come here to the radio station,” Cabezas said, “we ask them if they have a prayer request and would like to pray with a counselor or with a pastor. When they call to make a pledge, we pray with them on the phone.” Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | March 7, 2018

Evangelist Luis Palau Honored by National Religious Broadcasters

By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service

International evangelist Luis Palau, who recently announced he has lung cancer, was honored with the prestigious 2018 NRB Hall of Fame Award on Tuesday, February 27, at Proclaim 18, the NRB International Christian Media convention in Nashville, TN.

“Luis Palau is a model Christian evangelist and gospel broadcaster who has had a monumental impact on the world for Christ,” said Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, president & CEO of National Religious Broadcasters. “Honoring Luis with this prestigious award is especially poignant coming in the very week of the funeral of Billy Graham, the world-renown evangelist with whom Luis has so often been compared.”

Johnson added, “NRB loves Luis Palau and we pray fervently that the Lord will grant him healing, even while we praise God for how He continues to use Luis through this illness to advance the gospel.”

The National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame stands as a witness for current communicators, a showcase of warriors for Christ who live exemplary lives of valor and compassion, blazing trails and leaving paths for succeeding generations to follow. NRB’s most prestigious award is presented to an individual NRB member for invaluable contribution to the field of Christian communications, exhibition of the highest standards, and evidence of faithfulness in Christ. Palau was one of two individuals selected to receive this year’s award.

The Hall of Fame Award was one of 26 awards presented during Proclaim 18, which took place February 27-March 2, 2018, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. Also honored with the Hall of Fame Award this year was Dr. Billy Kim, Emeritus Pastor of Central Baptist Church in Suwon, South Korea, and longtime Christian broadcasting pioneer.

Palau and his ministry have shared the Good News of Jesus Christ with tens of millions of people through evangelistic events and media over the past six decades. He has spoken in 75 countries with more than one million registered decisions for Jesus Christ. He has authored close to 50 books, contributed articles on issues of faith to countless publications, and counseled business leaders, political leaders, and heads of state around the world. Read More…

Billy Graham on HCJB TV channel 2 in Quito Ecuador in early 1962.(Reach Beyond Archive Photo)

As technology offered communications opportunities in the latter half of the 20th century, Billy Graham seized upon them with a singular purpose in mind—to preach salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. It was his driving passion during a lifetime that spanned nearly a century. He died on February 21 at his home in Montreat, N.C.

Under a tin-roofed tabernacle built for a series of revival meetings in 1934 at his native North Carolina, Graham came to Christ as a teenager. Some nine years later as a recent graduate of Wheaton College, he pastored in the Chicago suburb of Western Springs when the church’s board agreed to fund a weekly radio production, Songs in the Night.

Despite challenges of the early broadcasts—from Chicago and later from Western Springs in early 1944—letters soon began arriving from listeners. First there were a few, growing to hundreds each month and providing the young Graham a glimpse of sharing the gospel via media.

In 1948 Songs in the Night expanded to an international reach with the church’s regular mailings of transcription recordings (on disks larger than long play records) for airing on international shortwave by missionary radio station HCJB in Ecuador. Concurrent with this expansion, Graham’s evangelism with Youth for Christ called on him to speak to servicemen at rallies across the U.S. and Europe. His message filled stadiums and arenas as people came to hear him tell of the importance of making a personal decision to receive God’s forgiveness offered in Christ.

Billy Graham was welcomed by Abe Van Der Puy of Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB World Radio) upon Graham’s arrival at Mariscal Sucre Airport in Quito. (Reach Beyond Archive Photo)

The following year, the Billy Graham Crusade began drawing crowds who filled large tents known as the “Canvas Cathedral.” His three-week Los Angeles evangelism meetings stretched into eight weeks—a fact some attribute in part to a directive by newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst, to his editors: “puff Graham.”

Meanwhile, His own Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) launched the weekly Hour of Decision radio program, carried across the United States on the American Broadcasting Company network. In faraway Argentina, a teenaged Luis Palau heard Graham on a radio broadcast emanating from Portland, Oregon and drew inspiration from him. Palau later worked for Graham, interpreting his messages into Spanish as well as serving as an evangelist in his own right. Then in 1970, Palau began his own ministry, modeled after Graham’s and with seed money from the U.S. evangelist.

Graham’s sermons in 1957 in New York City filled Madison Square Garden for 16 consecutive weeks. Among his guests on the dais were Rachel Saint, missionary to the Waorani of Ecuador, and Dayuma, one of the tribe’s first converts to Christianity. The high attendance at Graham’s New York City services caught the attention of ABC News, which produced a television special on him.

Graham also accepted invitations to appear on mainstream TV talk shows, making numerous appearances on “The Tonight Show” when Jack Paar hosted and four visits during Johnny Carson’s reign. In 1960, he appeared as the “mystery guest” on the weekly series, “What’s My Line.”

On one televised appearance, talk show host David Frost asked Graham how he would like to be remembered. “As a person who had integrity, and who was faithful to his calling, and who loved God with all his heart, mind, and soul,” Graham answered. Integrity was important to Graham, who pledged early in his career not to be alone in a room with a woman other than his wife, Ruth Bell Graham. As to finances, he received a fixed salary from his organization, the BGEA. He also helped establish the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), which operates yet today. The ministries that affiliate with ECFA do so voluntarily. Read More…

Ron E. Johnson 1948 – 2017

For many young Central American students, the face of the United States was represented by Ron Johnson—a man sitting across the desk in a small university office at a Christian college in Arkansas.

At John Brown University (JBU) in Siloam Springs, Johnson directed the Walton International Scholarship Program (WISP), which granted young people from several countries an opportunity to attend college. Sam and Helen Walton established WISP in the 1980s to counter Soviet influence after learning of many Central American young people attending Russian universities on scholarships.

“The goal of the Walton Scholarship,” states the JBU website, “is to provide the leadership necessary to strengthen democracy and improve living conditions throughout Mexico and Central America.” Sam Walton, now deceased, was the founder of Walmart, a chain of mega-retail stores.

Ron Johnson directed the WISP at John Brown University from 1996 until his death in 2017. This meant frequent trips to the Tulsa airport to greet the students coming from such places as Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama.

The Walton scholars often came from financially disadvantaged homes. Many were leaving their country for the first time; some were the first in their families to attend college. Johnson had already met many during recruitment trips to Central America in which he and the WISP directors from two other Arkansas-based institutions (Harding University and the University of the Ozarks) had interviewed prospective students.

As Johnson chronicled in his 2012 book, Our Story: The JBU Walton International Scholarship Program, the students’ orientation to life in the U.S. required much of both sides. Scholarship recipients were expected to, among other things, keep their grades up and not change their marital status. Most were single; others were already married upon approval into WISP. In addition, the Waltons had deemed it essential that upon graduation, the students would return to their home countries to use their education to strive for change and the betterment of their respective societies.

For his part, Johnson introduced the Walton scholars to the town of Siloam Springs. He had arranged for host families from area churches to welcome the young people for an evening, a weekend or a holiday break. The décor in his office reminded the students of home—a colorful place, according to Jenny Castro, a Walton scholar from Honduras assigned a work-study position with Johnson.

“It was a place full of people,” she said, “Everyone wanted to come and see Mr. Johnson, who was always ready with un abrazo (a hug). Many students came seeking advice, company or just a good time at the Walton office.”

“He was totally selfless, with endless administrative tasks to do for them and with them,” said Bob Smith of the JBU engineering department. He and Johnson had served with Reach Beyond (then HCJB World Radio) together in Quito, Ecuador some 15 years earlier. Read More…

A pre-2008 photograph of property recently acquired from Reach Beyond in Shell, Ecuador. The long, low structure housed a hospital from the 1950s to the mid-80s. Most of it was demolished in 2008. (Archive photo)

A patch of land set apart decades ago for evangelistic outreach has changed hands in eastern Ecuador, with ministry to people of the nearby rainforest continuing to guide its future use.

Neither ceremony nor fanfare surrounded the transaction. In a short exchange that included photographs, the CENTA foundation of missionaries Chet and Katie Williams acquired the property from Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB Global).

The Williamses formed CENTA to establish longevity for their vision of bringing culturally relevant instruction and interchange to the indigenous of Ecuador’s Amazon region. With the purchase, they receive property that carries a storied past spanning decades. In the 1950s, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) pilot Nate Saint bought the property—and adjacent land—for use in ministry to the jungle dwellers. One of the earliest structures on the 10-acre plot served as the Epp Memorial Hospital (Hospital Vozandes Oriente or HVO), a long wooden structure set on concrete pylons and with broad awnings for the area’s heavy rains.

On a pickup tailgate, Katie Williams adds her signature to paperwork on land that will now be owned by CENTA, a foundation begun by Katie and her husband, Chet Williams.

Saint’s friends from other mission agencies helped build the hospital. In a black and white photo, Frank Drown, a missionary of Avant (then known as Gospel Missionary Union), is shown on a ladder nailing

Avant missionary Frank Drown at work on the Epp Memorial Hospital sometime in 1955. (Archive photo)

on roofing. Jim Elliot, a Brethren missionary, who was a capable craftsman, evangelist and linguist, also helped in the effort. On January 8, 1956, Saint, Youderian, Elliot, and two other Brethren missionaries, Ed McCully and Pete Fleming, were speared to death in efforts to reach out to the Waorani of the jungle. Waorani means “the people” but they were then known by the pejorative term, Auca, which means “savage” in Quichua.

After the killings, Reach Beyond acquired the hospital and its surrounding compound on two sides of the Motolo River, which runs through Shell. In the 1980s, staff vacated the wooden hospital as HVO moved to a new cinder block facility on the opposite side of the river. Missionary nurse and hospital administrator Eleanor Boyes would later term the long suspension bridge linking the properties, Bridge to the Rain Forest, in her book by that name. The old hospital then became a guesthouse and served in that way until its demolition in 2008. The acreage (known as the Rio Motolo south property) that CENTA purchased also includes the buildings of the now-closed Nate Saint Memorial School, a water tower, a two-story guesthouse, and other remaining structures.

Read More…

By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service

Frank Drown 1922 – 2018


Veteran American missionary, Frank Drown, who passed away on Monday, January 22, at the age of 95, made worldwide history back in January 1956, when he found the body of his Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) pilot friend Nate Saint.

Choking back the tears, Drown told me during an interview I did with him and his wife, Marie, some time back, “He had a spear in his head, and a big cut on his face.”

The couple had agreed to talk about the terrible yet life-changing events that took place on January 8, 1956, when Jim Eliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint and Roger Youderian ventured into the eastern rainforests of Ecuador, where they made contact with the Waodani, people, also known as the Aucas. With a homicide rate of 60 percent, the tribe’s behavior placed them on the verge of self-annihilation.

The missionaries’ story was made famous in the pages of Life Magazine, but during the extraordinary interview, the Drowns were able to give more insight into what occurred all those years ago.

Frank Drown and his wife, Marie, served the Shuar and Atshuar people of Ecuador’s rainforest region for decades. Once mortal enemies, the two groups learned of reconciliation when Christianity was introduced to them.

“We were in Ecuador ten years before they were and then Nate came in and he became our pilot,” said Frank Drown. “He flew us all over the jungle, and we did lots of things together. Before he came, we would walk for many hours on the land, and so it was such a blessing to have him as our pilot. One minute in a plane is worth an hour on the ground.”

Marie then entered the conversation. “All of the missionaries that were killed were our good friends,” she said. “Marj Saint [Nate’s wife] was also a good friend of ours. Before we ever met her, she sent in with Nate, a tray of ice cubes, and we hadn’t had ice cubes for years. We made lemonade, and it tasted like something we’d never known before. It was so different with ice cubes in it.

“I remember another time when Nate came. He and Marj were expecting their first child, and we had a son Ross Drown, who was born in 1948, and a year later in early 1949 their first baby was born. When Nate was with us, he saw Ross and Frank playing with a ball, and Ross would repeat, ‘Figh!’ and daddy would say, ‘Throw the ball way up high!’ and he’d say ‘Figh!’ and they’d throw the ball back and forth. Nate said, “I can’t wait until ours is born.”

Now Ross and Kathy, the daughter of Nate Saint, are husband and wife.

Frank said that he had given Nate a radio to go into the jungle, but as the missionaries wanted to keep their mission a secret, they spoke in code. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | January 26, 2018

Quake Zone to War Zone and A Woman’s Role in Christian Missions

Sheila Leech

Tackling the topic of “Women in Missions” at a conference can be tough. But it paled in comparison to the personal anecdotes of Reach Beyond Global Hands Coordinator Sheila Leech. Talking to some 300 conferees in Quito, Ecuador, she recounted events just a short year apart. By experience however, the events displayed a broad gamut for women in missions.

Her message implored those gathered to share the love of Christ with Muslim women—nearly a billion of them worldwide, Leech estimated. Since 2005, she has become personally acquainted with many while tending to their injuries and illnesses and hearing their stories.

Leech told her own saga of managing personnel and logistics, and then leading an Ecuador-based medical team to meet the needs of earthquake victims in Pakistan in late 2005. In the Islamabad airport, they entered the immigration room to be summoned with, “‘Gentlemen, come, sit down’ as the men were invited to sit, while immigration paperwork was processed.”

Meanwhile, Leech continued, “we women waited in a corner—our heads inclined and covered—as if we did not exist. . . my first visit to an Islamic republic.” Herself a nurse, Leech traveled with female companions, both of whom are physicians.

“I realized that there are many advantages to being a woman in missions, but sometimes there are disadvantages too,” she said adding, “Don’t be discouraged.”

Leech’s admonition to encouragement finds support in research. Latin American families who have left their home countries to minister in cross-cultural settings demonstrated to Dr. Carlos Pinto that “the woman-wife-mother is the one who adapts more easily to the new culture, as opposed to the man-husband-father.” Pinto, a missionary psychologist, serves in Ecuador with Reach Beyond. A consultant in member care, he teaches on this topic with the Latin America-based mission alliance, COMIBAM International.

“The woman is the one who ends up assuming a leading role in the process of facilitating healthy cultural adaptation, due to her ability to be more flexible, socially outgoing, prone to risk-taking, and her more humble ability to assume the role as learner of a new lifestyle,” wrote Pinto. His article The Latin America Missionary Family: Challenges and Blessings appeared in the October 2017 edition of the online journal, Evangelical Missions Quarterly. He cited the males researched as tending to be “more rigid and proud, and to look for spaces [roles] of power instead of service.”

Leech’s health care team—once on the ground in Pakistan’s quake zone—were afforded ample military escort to remote areas where they filled gaps left by some 1,000 quake-ruined hospitals. She found the soldiers cordial and accommodating, while the villagers treated for injuries were shy toward outsiders yet warm and appreciative. Read More…

by Ralph Kurtenbach and Harold Goerzen

A crisis is to some people a stumbling block; to others it’s a building block. Stan Houghton showed himself to be of the latter group, becoming better through testing and trial. His 91 years in three different countries are highlighted by a 40-year career in evangelical missions.

He was born to a U.S. Navy sailor and a professional pianist on Aug. 7, 1926, near a shipyard in Bremerton, Wash. His happy childhood of baseball pitching, piano practice and chemistry projects took a turn for the worse when Stan’s parents said they would divorce. Upset and disheartened, Houghton took to knitting to calm himself. Soon he had made himself a sweater.

Bolstered by prayers for his adjustment, 15-year-old Stan soon forged a friendship that changed the course of his life. Hearing from a new friend about Prairie High School (now called Prairie Christian Academy), an outreach of Prairie Bible Institute (PBI) in Three Hills, Alberta, Canada, and gaining parental approval to go, Stan was soon attending classes at the school. He was studious and enterprising in the dormitory, graduating from both the three-year high school and four-year Bible school.

Stan Houghton 1926-2017

“He bought a metal washtub so he could have hot baths in the winter,” his daughters, Lois and Becky, later wrote of him. “His boarding school friends wanted hot baths too, so he let them take turns renting his wash tub.”

It was also during those years at Prairie that Houghton felt called of God to do mission work—the “need of those who have never heard of Jesus Christ” pressed upon his heart. “At a missionary conference in 1941,” Houghton recalled, “I knew I was to be a missionary.”

He also told of tight finances. Short of money for a Wycliffe Bible Translators-sponsored linguistics summer course, Stan watched a 1933 Dodge come into his hands, and he credits God’s provision of the broken-down vehicle. “With $5 in parts,” Houghton related. “I fixed the car and sold it for enough money to go. I was always good with my hands.”

Arriving in Ecuador as a single missionary in 1949, he learned Spanish, the first of two languages needed for the work. Then he learned Quichua from Julia Woodward, a missionary pioneer with Avant (formerly Gospel Missionary Union) who served in Ecuador for more than 50 years. Read More…

Carlos Scott demonstrates a Trinitarian dance with (left to right,) Carlos Sarango, Andres Staubli and Cecibell Suarez, at a missions conference in Ecuador

You might expect Carlos Scott to break a couple of rules. He did after all, have people dancing at a missions conference in Ecuador recently. “First we step to the right; then we step to the left,” he coached after gentle cajoling three conferees into joining him on the platform.

The Argentinian preacher’s illustration might have seemed edgy in evangelical circles. During the last half century, evangelicalism in Latin America has grown up with considerable influence from North American missionaries, schooled to deem dancing a distraction at best and at worst, sinful.

However, Scott—with his arms around the shoulders of Andres Stäubli, Cecibell Suarez and Carlos Sarango—pressed on and made his point: The task of world evangelism will require of Christian collaboration across denominational boundaries. Christians need to live in community, as do God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. “How interesting that the Cappadocian Fathers, to describe the Trinity, used the term perichoresis,” Scott related. “And the term describes a trinitarian dance.”

Scott fit his message—including its  concept of the Trinity considered by some as controversial—into the Unidos en la Misión (United in Mission) conference where it seemed to communicate well. The Quito event was organized this fall by HCJB Ecuador together with a dozen other mission entities.

The event’s 300 attendees came primarily from Ecuador; others came from different countries across Latin America. A parade of participants carrying in multicolored flags launched the conference.

Using biblical texts from the books of Genesis and Acts, Scott drew word pictures of two opposing spirits at work within the contemporary church. He referred to these as a self-laudatory spirit of Babel (in Genesis) that rejects those who differ, and a God-honoring spirit of Pentecost—“a celebration of diversity.”

Churches that lean toward a Babel concept would seek to grow in numbers at all cost, for example, even if such growth forced a compromise of its gospel message.

“What interests those of Babel [spirit] is the growth of their church—nothing but the growth of their church,” said Scott. “What interests us in the spirit of Pentecost is the extension of the kingdom of God to include every tongue, every people worshiping the Lamb [Jesus].” Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | November 16, 2017

Ecuadorian Agronomist Sees in Seeds the Hope of a Better Life

Ovidio Gomez

Ovidio Gomez came up the hard way in Ecuador, and he readily admits it. In spite of a tough start, however, he is now an accomplished agronomist.

“At the age of 14 it occurred to me that my daddy was living on the land, and yet here we were poor and hungry,” he says. “Meanwhile, those who knew something of agronomy were eating better. So I ran away from home. I left and started studying agronomy at a high school in [nearby] Patate, working every afternoon and going to school in the morning.”

With college out of reach, Gomez began working as an agricultural technician. It was during those early years that he also married Fanny Sanchez who had studied agronomy with him. They now have three children living at home who are learning the profession as well. “I have spent 25 years getting my ‘degree,’” he relates. “I’ve asked that life itself grant my title in this field.”

Fanny Sanchez

Speaking in Shell, Ecuador at the September inauguration of Reach Beyond’s first greenhouse, Gomez told of facing challenges as an agronomist. He recounted how a person had once told him he was “preparing garbage that wasn’t going to produce … but that’s OK because sometimes people’s ignorance offers guidelines with which we [agronomy] technicians can move forward.” Then explaining the soil of the nearby rainforest, he said it is commonly excessive in moisture and high in alkaline (they dried it for use in the greenhouse).

Passionate about plants, he eschews public speaking and found himself in need of a whiteboard to better express himself in front of 180 people gathered for the Shell event. Rising to the occasion, nonetheless, he boldly proclaimed what must happen for jungle dwellers to have more varied gardens and a cash crop. Gomez, since moving to Pastaza [province], has realized that people from remote areas—even the poorest—possess land, but its ideal use is often neglected.

“People’s greatest poverty is ignorance,” he said. “We want to enter in with opportunity for creating wealth by living with them, sharing day by day and doing the work because significant results only come about by getting plants in the ground early and working throughout the day.”

Heaped up rainforest soil. It must be dried and PH-balanced for use in growing the plants used in the greenhouse.

Read More…

Jacobo Muñoz (played by Marco de la Torre) has a lot of thinking to do after leaving prison. The movie, Tal Vez Mañana, reveals how his faith is tested in new ways as he reintegrates into society.

The point at which numerous Christian movies conclude—a scene in which the main character who reaches the end of himself, surrenders to God and prays for forgiveness—is where a new Spanish-language Christian movie takes up the story. Walking to the altar is one thing; walking in faith day by day is another.

Shot entirely in Ecuador, “Tal Vez Mañana” (Maybe Tomorrow) begins with a church service ending and the character, Jade Muñoz, leaving alone. In a nearby street she encounters her husband who has been away for some time. With the release of Jacobo “Jac” Muñoz from prison, he re-enters society as a different man. During his lock-up for car theft, he has experienced a jailhouse conversion.

Jacobo attempts to walk a narrow path. He exercises a newfound faith in God but still keeps occasional company with a former crime buddy. The plot turns on a key question of whether or not his decision for Christ will stick. The theme is pressed relentlessly by Director Dwight Gregorich, who with his wife and co-producer, Tamara Torres, operates Tamto Producciones.

“I loved it,” a woman said after viewing the movie. She called it “moving—a movie you can bring your family to, and with a message that God does not abandon us.” Interviewed at a Quito theater, a man commented favorably on interspersed scenes showing fast-paced drama and shots showing earnest prayer for Jacobo. Another woman appreciated a scene in which the Muñozes’ young son, Felipe, assures his father that “you’re a good person.”

Marco de la Torre and Jashua Fiallos play father and son in the Spanish-language movie, Tal Vez Mañana.

The viewer follows Jacobo Muñoz’s disheartening search for work as he reintegrates into society. Support from Jade is steady, even amid her own anxieties over the couple’s tight finances. Other scenes have young Felipe responding to schoolyard taunts from classmates who know of his father’s past.

“It should be noted that we made every effort to ensure that the film has the highest quality standards,” said Gregorich, who wrote the screenplay and plays a supporting character. “It is high definition digital cinema with surround sound. This will allow the public to enjoy a project with a great message, a clear image and an impeccable sound.”

He also pointed out that the movie’s musical score originated in Ecuador, including “Un Segundo Sin Ti” (One Second Without You) by Vaes, an Ambato musical group whose acronym announces three messages: vida, amor and esperanza (life, love and hope).

When Radio HCJB contacted Gregorich in late 2016, he put together in a matter of weeks an acceptable script for the 92-minute movie. “Dwight writes movies all the time,” observed Paul Childs, the movie’s photography director and a collaborator on other projects—primarily public relations work—with Gregorich and Torres. “It’s really quite incredible how quickly he can put them out.”

Janine Childs

Childs’ sister, Janine, said the movie is “about waiting for God’s timing [and] not taking things into your own hands.” Patience is required in life and “it has a social message as well about how we treat people who come out of prison, and not judging them.”

Reimprisonment (called recidivism) rates in Latin America vary widely, ranging from about 60 percent in Brazil to as low as 2.6 percent in the Dominican Republic where prisoners are taught to read and write if they are illiterate, according to The Economist magazine. (The recidivism rate in parts of the U.S. is reported to be 70 percent.) Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | October 11, 2017

Greenhouse in Ecuador Growing Plants for Use in Jungle Gardens

Townsfolk and dignitaries gathered recently on a one-time rocky patch of weeds for an event to mark a mission agency’s newest endeavor—a greenhouse.

The ceremony in Shell, Ecuador, marked for Reach Beyond which began in the country nearly 86 years ago, its first greenhouse. Agriculture has not been a major thrust for the agency that has focused on such things as radio and television broadcasting and operating two hospitals, medical clinics and accredited schools in nursing and communications (some of these outreaches have since closed).

However, 180 people came to the celebration on Friday, Sept. 8, listening to speeches, sampling roasted cacao (cocoa) beans and touring rows of small trees. Later they all enjoyed a noon meal together in the shade.

Addressing the crowd, Reach Beyond Community Development Director Wim de Groen did the unthinkable, holding up a potted cacao plant and then taking a scissors and cutting its stem. To set the scene for this shock, he had described how the harvest from certain plants would be predictable—avocados from an avocado tree and not from strawberry plants, for example. Then with a snip of the scissors as people laughed nervously, de Groen explained the science and beauty of grafting. This illustration led smoothly to a spiritual parallel.

Wim de Groen

“I have to cut that and put a new plant onto it so that it can produce a different product,” de Groen explained. “So too it is with our lives. By the fall in Adam we are born in sin, and our fruits are never perfect. Even though we try to produce good fruits, we have that evil inside of us. But we have hope because Christ died on the cross for our sins.”

De Groen and Reach Beyond Director of Water Projects Eric Fogg view the greenhouse as a means of reaching people with the gospel. In the Amazon rain forest east of Shell, Reach Beyond has helped with various clean water projects while opening evangelism opportunities.

The two men hope to see the mission’s conversation with these communities extended by introducing the greenhouse ministry. Fogg said that “plants offer an amazing opportunity to link spiritual principles—of adoption [for example] with grafting.” Another example is the need for water and the grower’s dependence upon God for water.

Eric Fogg (on ladder) and co-worker put up a sign inaugurating a ministry greenhouse.

“The lessons in the Bible are very, very numerous,” Fogg said. Additionally, it is hoped that current garden practices (slash-and-burn methods with little variance of crops) will be improved with better systems.

“Our desire is that we can see changes in people’s hearts—changes on the inside,” added de Groen. “Although we hope we help a number of communities with planting projects, we want to see the fruits of a change from within.”

Even with spiritual instruction leading the project’s stated goals, other benefits are anticipated, according to Fogg. “It’s going to take about two years for the long-term plants [cacao and orange plants] to produce fruit, but the short-term plants [potatoes and yucca] cycle every three or four months.” He foresees that jungle residents will enjoy a broader diet of foods, and in the long term participating communities will profit from more cash crops such as oranges and cacao.

The new greenhouse outreach came in response to a failed Ecuadorian agricultural program, which flew in thousands of cacao trees to remote jungle villages in the hopes of helping residents boost their income. Although well-intentioned, the effort was not accompanied by the training  on keeping the young plants alive amid the region’s drenching rains, according to Fogg. Read More…

by Ralph Kurtenbach*

God Knows What I’m Doing Here by Sheila Leech carries in its title just the right words to attract readers interested in spirituality. But the author’s lively autobiography is also piquing the interest of others.

A one-time rebellious British teenager who surrendered her life to Jesus Christ, Leech has discovered in the last few decades that obedience to God can put one on a path to many adventures. A life of service through missionary work is not only worthwhile; it can also be exhilarating, according to the first-time author.

Sheila Leech

With each chapter, the “Here” mentioned in her title changes—from her parents’ place outside Solihull near Birmingham in the 1970s to several years later, living in a rustic dwelling with split bamboo walls in Ecuador.

Introducing her readers to the traveling Bedouin people of Lebanon, Leech tells of ministry work in a warzone. She also turns her pen to firsthand descriptions of chaotic circumstances or harrowing dangers following natural disasters in places such as Indonesia and Pakistan.

She offers a detailed account of embracing Christianity after life wasn’t working out well in a rough crowd of down-and-outers who gathered in the pubs of her hometown when they weren’t out riding their motorcycles. The chapter of finding forgiveness and love in Christ when feeling unworthy undergirds the story, explaining subsequent decisions on leaving the comforts around her to share with others the message of Christ and His love.

A missionary nurse, Leech has grown accustomed to—or at least being functional and effective in—areas devastated by natural disasters. Compelling accounts capture the shock and grief of victims even as she probes inside and recalls how she took in the jarring stimuli around her. A reader may begin to grasp what goes into debriefing and then appropriating enough grace to face forward, stepping into future humanitarian crises.

An early chapter has Leech driving a pickup truck in the several-hour drive from northwestern Ecuador to the capital, Quito. When a man standing on the highway beckons to her, she is lost in thought and nonchalantly downshifts to roll to a stop. Read More…

Interviewed by Reach Beyond in San Lorenzo, Ecuador, Pastor Germán Campos spoke of his ministry that began 16 years ago, when he met with missionary engineer César Cortez, visiting Esmeraldas province to train church leaders and build water projects. This interview followed a talk by Campos who arrived for a weekly gathering of a network of churches, Comunidad Cristiana Roca de Eternidad (Eternal Rock Christian Community). After the meeting, the pastors traveled by boat to their remote villages on the Verde, Borbón and Onzole rivers and other communities in the province of Esmeraldas.

Your church is really a group of churches—a family of churches—is that right, pastor?

Yes. Today there are 14 churches from the different communities where God has allowed us as Comunidad Cristiana Roca de Eternidad to serve Him. We meet once a week to fellowship together, but also to share with each other the concerns we have. The idea is to encourage them, hear of their needs and see how we can help them. It all began as one small church of eight people. But God helped—and continues helping us—so we’re thankful to the Lord for the life of brother César Cortez who helped us with the basic library and training. From that, I wanted to start planting a small church in each community. And thank God, they have grown. Now we have 14 churches with 14 pastors who have been trained, received [thelogical] libraries and attended different seminaries here in the country.

German Campos

So that is to say, you offered the pastors a workshop and invited them to it here in the city?

Of course, we did it here so that we could have more coverage. Because of the distances, we needed to, and so by having them come here to a central point, it works. So everyone came and received the training, and that was very motivating.

We also to listen to their needs. We have some capabilities to help [and] there are plenty of needs.

Why is it called a “community” of churches?

It’s called “community” for this reason: community is a union of two words. First, it refers to people who have something in common [which could be physical proximity or being from the same province or state]. But the second part [of the word community] is that these people are living together in unity.

Could you talk about the needs that you and your fellow pastors see?

In greater darkness, with denser darkness, what we have seen is that the light of Jesus Christ is blazing. San Lorenzo was formerly a city that nobody wanted to come to. For example, when we first arrived there were only eight policemen who went into hiding every evening due to the city’s proximity to Colombia where there are guerrillas and paramilitaries. The delinquency rate was tremendous. However, we have seen how, little by little, the churches have been growing. After only four [evangelical] churches in the beginning, we are already 17 churches alone here in the county seat [including Comunidad Cristiana Roca de Eternidad and others.]

Additionally, around all the cantones, there are already about 250 churches that have been established. So we’re seeing things develop in comparison with 16 years ago when the northern area [of Esmeraldas province] was abandoned and neglected. Today we see highways, bridges, hospitals—and that is no accident. It is due to light shining into darkness when the gospel reaches a community. That is because the gospel transforms the ideology, the thought and the life of the whole community. That’s what happened in the whole northern area [of Esmeraldas province].

What else would you like to add?

Just ask for more folks to help us. We want to continue preparing leaders and helping with the children here in the north [of Esmeraldas province]. The need remains large just as the Lord Jesus Christ said, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.” So we are very focused on preparing workers, and that means investing in their lives. We have to move them to the cities because we do not have a seminary here. So they need to move to Esmeraldas [the city] or Quito. At times this is a big issue [helping develop people into Christian leaders] for us because the need—poverty among children—is growing every day. These days through Compassion International we have 4,700 children who are receiving help. One might say enough is being done. But realize this: thousands and thousands more are still in need. So we want to seize the opportunity before us, and we’d like people to join in, to help. We’d like for people to join us in this plan of God … because it is of God.

Reach Beyond pastor’s training takes place through the mission’s APOYO department. (Apoyo is a Spanish language word for ‘support’.) At this four-day workshop, 24 pastors and leaders representing 13 different churches learned how to better lead their congregations. Each church was given a basic library including a Bible commentary, Bible dictionary, Thompson chain reference Bible, Quichua language Bible, Billy Graham Association counseling reference guide and a book on God’s covenants. (Reach Beyond archive photo)

It’s mid-morning and missionary engineer César Cortez arrives to evaluate the progress of water system technician Edison Caiza. After months of work with the community, Caiza is now putting the final touches on a clean water system in Yalare (pronounced yah-lah-REH) in northwestern Ecuador.

Edison Caiza (left) with Cesar Cortez, at the control panel of a clean water system in Yalare, Ecuador.

Caiza tells of receiving a jolt of electrical current “that left my legs tingling afterwards” when his finger strayed a bit too close to a live wire. Cortez casually responds, “Yes, it goes all the way to the legs with 220 volts. If it’s 110, it only leaves tingling in the arms.”

Not much more is said as the two Ecuadorians settle in to working together as they have done on many such projects across Ecuador. Their relationship, enduring and long lasting, began when Caiza was a youngster.

“I remember when ‘Eddie’ was a little boy following his father,” Cortez said, recalling how in 1999 Reach Beyond helped Caiza’s mountain community with a project similar to that of Yalare in Ecuador’s coastal lowlands.

Edison’s father, Francisco Caiza, asked for and received training from former Reach Beyond engineer Bruce Rydbeck to become a water technician. Eventually these were footsteps for Edison to follow as well, learning from Cortez the hands-on work and how to direct community volunteers while installing a clean water system.

The scenario came full circle in 2013 when the Caizas embraced an opportunity to accompany Cortez to La Bruyère in northern Haiti and facilitate the work on establishing a system to distribute clean spring water to community members. The Ecuadorian father-son team of Francisco and Edison crossed geographic, language and cultural barriers to help Haitians learn about work, water and a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Of the Caizas’ work in Haiti, Cortez said at the time, “I’m amazed at how Edison and Francisco pray and give testimony of God’s help to the people.” Amazed perhaps, but satisfied to see his investments of time and teaching result in physical as well as spiritual benefits. Arriving at Yalare for the water system’s inauguration, Cortez had already met with a San Lorenzo pastor, German Campos, who himself disciples and mentors other pastors. (Also see Pastor says, ‘With Greater Darkness, the Light of Jesus is Blazing’.)

Cortez and his wife, Nancy, who recently retired from Reach Beyond after 22 years of service, have helped Ecuadorian pastors learn how to better shepherd their congregations. For César an aspect of this has been continuing education short courses in Bible study methods and spiritual leadership.

Nancy teaches Christian education workshops using the active learning approach (learning by doing), and she has also been active in the Academia Cristiana del Aire (Christian Academy of the Air, formerly the Bible Institute of the Air) which couples radio programs with correspondence courses that teach the Bible.

Seeing a strong relationship between community development work (such as clean water) and Christian discipleship, the Cortezes have also helped improve water systems and hygiene for families throughout Ecuador. Read More…

The Johnsons (left to right) Erin Corniea, Peg, Zach, Judd and Whitney Dauer.

Judd Johnson reached out via Facebook in early June, seeking some help on behalf of an Ecuadorian friend struck by a vehicle. The man’s recovery time extended beyond what his finances would cover.

Helping when and where they could was how Judd and his wife, Peg, operated. Mission work was to them a core value. As Peg once wrote, “Judd and I have both been interested in missions since early in our marriage.” They served the Lord by serving others in Ecuador and then Haiti.

Just a month later on Tuesday, July 4, the Johnsons themselves needed help. Asking Facebook friends to pray, Judd wrote, “Peg was just diagnosed with a pancreatic cancer that has spread to her lymph nodes and liver. This is a very recent condition, actually confirmed later in the day that this pic[ture] of our kids and grandkids was taken.”

He added to his post one of Peg’s favorite Bible verses, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You: because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV).

“I have no words,” replied Phil Quinn. “Our whole family is praying for you and your family.” Quinn had helped Johnson and others to provide amplified sound at numerous concert venues around Ecuador.

The high-volume audio service, Altos Pasos, had been launched even as Judd was working as a construction supervisor during Reach Beyond’s 1987-1996 expansion of Hospital Vozandes-Quito (HVQ), Project Life. Later on in Ecuador, Judd also worked independently, with construction contracts that included buildings for the U.S. embassy.

Another friend posted that praying for Peg’s restoration was right because, “Lord, Peg has vital kingdom [of God] work to do.” Many others offered an “Amen” along with confirmations that they too are praying. Later echoing Quinn’s sadness and bewilderment, English Fellowship Church pastor Len Kinzel, said, “We have no words. So many of us in Quito are sighing, aching and groaning with you and for you.”

The Johnsons spent the ensuing days in and out of local hospitals, culminating with a visit to the emergency room at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., on Sunday, July 16. There they learned that despite Peg’s willingness to undergo chemotherapy, she was not a candidate for such treatment. Judd deemed the following evening as “really hard.” Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | June 26, 2017

School Closing Sends Students Elsewhere as Ambassadors for Christ

Near the shelves of library books at Nate Saint Memorial School (NSMS), a closing chapter was written when the school shut down this month after 51 years of educating children of missionaries.

“It’s sad to think about NSMS closing because there is so much about this school that I’ve liked, but we must look on to the future,” said Erik Umble, 13. One of 12 students at the school, he and three others prepared and gave speeches at a final awards ceremony on Tuesday, June 6.

Umble, the son of one of the teachers at the school in Shell, Ecuador, said God had placed the students there for a reason. He then admonished them, “I want to encourage all of you to trust that God is in control of your future, and He has the best plan for you.”

“The first day that I came to Nate Saint my only friend was Erik and I was so nervous—I was literally shaking,” said Joshua Fogg, 14. “When I entered the classroom, everyone was staring at me, and I had to say my name and where I was from. That was the scariest moment in my life. Now, I barge into the room laughing and having fun.”

A comfortable teacher/student ratio facilitated an innovative and creative learning environment. Erik’s father, Randy, taught at NSMS for 15 years. Skyler Williams, 12, recounted how Mr. Umble once showed up in history class as a character named Shem Peachey.

Skyler Williams

“We ate hardtack and drank coffee, and then you put on some Civil War tunes,” Williams recalled. Then addressing Umble he continued, “You started to dance around and finally got up on a chair! You didn’t see the fan [and] it almost smacked your head.”

Apparently the overhead classroom fan gained a reputation. Fogg began his talk with a few “remember whens,” asking folks if they remembered “the time on that peaceful afternoon when Ms. Kujawa was eaten by the savage fan?” Read More…

Fourth graders from Alliance Academy International visited Radio Station HCJB and learned about media messages.

by Ralph Kurtenbach*

Amid a continuous cascade of media apps, websites, video and social media in the hands of young people, has interest in radio entirely dried up? Not if a recent field trip by the fourth-graders of Alliance Academy International (AAI) to Radio HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, offers an apt measurement.

“I learned how the radio works,” wrote Isabela, who also cited “all the cool stuff you got” as having held her attention during the visit by 36 fourth-graders and several teachers.

Arriving at the station just across the street and a half block away, the youngsters were formed into tour groups with teachers as guides. Then they made their way to the different points of interest.

Afterwards, Isabela’s note to the tour guides (including this writer) had been done in colored pencils, showing a person wearing headphones at a radio console. She summarized her appreciation with “my favorite part was learning the history of HCJB.”

While it’s true that the thank-you notes fulfilled a post-trip requirement, the comments seemed authentic. They reflect a good level of student engagement on the Reach Beyond campus where the radio station operates studios, offices and a tall tower.

The tour guides strove to put their presentations at a fourth-grade level, giving short shrift to such technicalities as the electromagnetic spectrum, the speed of sound and audience research statistics. For Reach Beyond’s Tammy Kooistra, this meant that at the tall tower’s guy wire, she did not demonstrate its purpose but instead its sound production.

Each time she flicked the cable with her finger, a student—with an ear laid on the guy wire—heard what sounded like a Star Wars blaster gun. “Kapaw! Kapaw!” was how Daniel described the weird sound he heard while another student, Eliana, characterized it more as “Kwaping!”

As with Isabela, both Daniel and Eliana included in their thank-you notes hand-drawn pictures in color. Eliana showed a smiling Mrs. Kooistra demonstrating the little-known guy wire feature of the green area near the station; Daniel drew a heavy diagonal line (representing the cable) and above his name, a blaster pistol.

Kooistra also shushed each vivacious bunch of kids before ushering them into Studio 9 where the brightly lighted “On Air” light told people that the program hosts were indeed talking to the listeners.

Anabella Cabezas, who spoke about programming and marketing, is the director for HCJB Ecuador which owns and operates 89.3 FM in Quito (where the station ranks seventh among dozens of FM outlets) and its repeaters throughout Ecuador. Adapting to changing listener habits, she and her production team have added to traditional media Control Z (, an online youth-oriented website with a continuous music livestream.

The onsite learning at HCJB reinforced the students’ unit in English Language Arts, according to Kat Wing, who teaches one of the fourth-grade sections and has headed up the visit for two consecutive years.

“The students are learning about media messages including visual and auditory,” Wing said. “We thought that it would be a neat thing for the students to see the HCJB radio station that is so close to us.”

The scope of ministry was also grasped as noted in Miranda’s appreciative words: “I am so happy that we went to HCJB ‘cause I learned that you had [sic] a hospital and my favorite part was recording our voices.”

Photo showing Dr. Ev Fuller vaccinating a Shuar leader, Tsantiacu, against polio in 1961. Fourth graders’ attention was directed to the bending needle.

In Studio 10, program producer Veronica Saavedra recorded and played back the children’s voices, to the amusement of all. A student who adorned her note with two multicolored microphones wrote, “I learned the history of HCJB, and it means: ‘Heralding Christ Jesus’ Blessings.’ My favorite part was recording my voice on the microphone.”

*Ralph Kurtenbach explained to the students the integral role of HCJB in the creation of electronic media in Ecuador. In the station’s gallery of historic photos, he showed how in a pre-Photoshop photograph touch-up could “paint open” the eyes of people who blinked as the camera shutter opened. Also tying in Reach Beyond’s healthcare ministry, he pointed to a photo of a Shuar Indian chief receiving an injection from a doctor, the needle bending as it penetrates the tough old Indian chief’s skin.

Archive photo shows early staff of HCJB. (Front, left to right) Francisco Cruz, Mariana Aguilera, Nelson Chavez, Grace Larson and Clarence Jones. (Back, left to right): Adriano Jaramillo, Jose Canelos Victoriano Salvador, Stuart Clark, Raul Cedeño, Pablo Williams, Luis Fernando Ayora. Cruz was station manager and Cedeño and Ayora became HCJB voices familiar to listeners.

Posted by: calloftheandes | May 24, 2017

A Special Visit to Nate Saint Memorial School

by Gary Meier

Nate Saint Memorial School was one of the all-time favorite stops of the many (up to five a year) Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB Global) tours to Ecuador. We were told that the students considered a visit one of their highlights of the year.

The group usually congregated on the concrete play area to meet the principal and receive an orientation. Then each student—even the first-graders—were assigned a visitor to whom they gave a personalized tour. The school was named after missionary pilot Nate Saint who in 1956, along with four of his fellow missionaries, was martyred in the Ecuadorian jungle by a tribe then known for savagery.

Before departing their homes in Shell for the last time, the five men and their wives gathered for a time of prayer and praise. Then before walking out the door, they all sang their favorite hymn, “We Rest on Thee.”

Early learning days in Shell with Charlotte Swanson as teacher. (photo compliments of Don Davis, in front in striped shirt)

As our guides concluded their tours, everyone eventually ended up in the assembly room. There a presentation by the children sometimes consisted of a skit, a special story and of course, singing. Before the tour left, they always sang, “We Rest on Thee.” There never was a dry eye in the place as the tour members filed out to their bus.

On one tour as we stood on the concrete play area, the sun beating down on us unmercifully, everyone was drenched with sweat. The principal gave a talk on the history of the school and its education philosophy. As group members squirmed from the heat and shielded their eyes from the intense sun, she explained that one day they would erect a roof. With careful planning, it would cost about $6,000, she stated.

The group then met the students assigned as their special guides. This was followed by the program in the much-cooler meeting room. After everything had concluded, it was imperative that the group board the bus for the other scheduled tour activities. As usual, it was nearly impossible to pull the group away as they wanted to see more of the school, visit with the kids and ask the teachers more questions.

Finally they began heading to the bus. Before getting in, however, they gathered in a circle and asked me to come into the center. The appointed spokesperson handed me a wad of checks and cash. You guessed it … $6,000. God’s people had again responded to a need. The children, and all the subsequent tour groups, enjoyed the covered play area for many years.

Kathy and Gary Meier

*Gary Meier is a retired Reach Beyond missionary living in Young Harris, Ga.

Missionary Charlotte Swanson began teaching children in her home Shell, Ecuador in 1964. A school building and the name “Nate Saint Memorial School” was added later. (photo compliments of Don Davis)

With books turned in and desks cleared, nary a child would say that bittersweet describes the end of classes … except perhaps for the students of Nate Saint Memorial School (NSMS). At this small school in Shell, Ecuador, the last day of school is just that—the last day.

The school’s closing at the end of the 2016-2017 term was announced by Reach Beyond in March, pointing to declining enrollments given as a decisive factor. NSMS has educated missionary children for 51 years.

The 12 full-time pupils at the school—along with their friends who drop by for extracurricular activities—have enjoyed a pupil/teacher ratio low enough for plenty of personalized help.

Randy Umble (left) with Reach Beyond’s Gary Meier (photo compliments of Gary Meier)

“I’ve felt spoiled being a teacher at NSMS,” said Reach Beyond’s Randy Umble who has been an instructor for 15 years and whose children attend there. He has taught mostly seventh- and eighth-graders. With class sizes ranging from three to 10 students, he says, “the kids are fun, and the most difficult class management problem is students talking out of turn!” The projected enrollment for 2017-2018 would have been just three pupils, down significantly from this year. In the last few years, school attendance was in the 20s, including 29 students in 2012-2013, which was the year that Reach Beyond closed its Shell hospital after five decades of medical service.

Umble said he and his wife, Melanie, have not firmed up plans for the future, but they “are praying that God would guide us to our next place of service.”

“When you have small classes,” agreed former NSMS teacher Carolyn Wolfram, “much more time is spent on actual learning and only a very small percentage of time on ‘crowd control’ and getting in line and getting their attention.”

“When I told my kids that there won’t be school any more after the summer break, they were really sad and couldn’t believe it,” said Birgit Schmale, whose children Amelie and Ricardo are homeschooled in German and Spanish. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | May 22, 2017

Nate Saint Memorial School: End of an Era

A blog entry used by Reach Beyond with permission by The Voice of the Martyrs.

by *Dory P.

The end of an era comes next month.

In August 1985, I clutched my mom’s hand and squeaked my rubber flip-flopped way down the gravel path from the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) “base” to the cinder block Nate Saint Memorial School. Miss Carolyn Wolfram greeted me and the three other kindergarten students and we took our places at the red, yellow, blue and green desks.

David’s parents were with Gospel Missionary Union, running a conference center for training local church workers. Rebekah’s dad was an anesthesiologist at the HCJB mission hospital in town. And Cristina’s parents worked with the local church while her dad trained to be a pilot with my dad at MAF.

Dori P. of Voice of the Martyrs stands at the school in Shell, Ecuador that she attended as a child.

I completed all of my elementary education through the sixth grade at Nate Saint Memorial School. In my era, the school hosted around 30 kids in kindergarten through eighth grade; all of our parents were involved in various ministries and denominations and types of mission work in the tiny town of Shell, perched on the edge of Ecuador’s Amazon rain forest.

At NSMS, as we called it, classes were frequently put on hold so the school children could perform a song for visiting tour groups from the U.S. We marched in the town parades proudly carrying a banner with Nate Saint’s name on it, and when we got tired of standing in the hot sun, our teachers would exhort us to set an example for the Ecuadorian schools, because they knew we were the “evangelical” school.

Class sizes were small, and like a prairie school house, often contained multiple grades. After the teacher got the third graders working in their math workbooks, she might quietly read the English assignment to the fourth graders on the other side of the room. When there were political strikes and no one could travel around town, we had classes in homes, books spread out on dining room tables with our mothers overseeing us.

Thursday afternoons were for swimming, when the whole school would pile into the rattly GMC mission vans and head for the river. The teachers would try to make sure we didn’t drown in the fast current while I worked up the courage to finally jump off that big rock into the deep spot.

When the eighth graders needed frogs to dissect for science class, they first spent an evening out behind the school, capturing toads and dunking them in formaldehyde from the hospital. The surgeons’ wife came over on Tuesdays to have us draw still-life paintings. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | May 10, 2017

Turn on the Tap and . . .

by Ralph Kurtenbach, blogger

The graphic on the screen at church featured a Bible with a faucet—or tap—attached to it, spewing out dollar bills. The pastor’s message on a section from the New Testament book of Titus emphasized the need for sound biblical doctrine. Then to contrast, he showed the faucet-Bible and commented on a spurious teaching that is circulating.

That faucet stuck out at me. I had just visited Yalare, a remote community in Ecuador’s coastal province of Esmeraldas. The folk there had helped Reach Beyond’s César Cortez and Edison Caiza put the final touches on a project, followed by the big moment and inauguration of the clean water system.

What did people in Yalare want from their faucets? Clean water. That’s a lot different than praying that God would make me rich or buy me a Mercedes Benz. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | April 20, 2017

Orthopedic Surgeons Offer Ecuadorian Youth a Chance to Walk

Photos and story by R. Kurtenbach

Converging on Quito, Ecuador, for two weeks, orthopedic surgeons recently traveled from four countries with the aim of correcting that which is mal in their pediatric patients and making it right.

 “The work is to help children who have malalignments of their legs to function better and to help preserve their joints,” explained Dr. Tom Novacheck of Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minn. “So many of these children have developmental problems—maybe neurological, maybe muscular—that affect the way their feet develop, and [their] hips and knees.” Former Reach Beyond surgeon Dr. Eckehart Wolff coordinated the Feb. 23-March 3 operations on 23 patients, ranging in age from three to 23.

Orthopedic surgeons on their feet for long hours in an operating room at Hospital Vozandes-Quito means one thing to those whose walking is impaired or impossible: feet and legs that can support and carry them.

Drs. Tom Novacheck (left) and Camilo Turriago. (Reach Beyond archive photo)

Their approach of using two surgical teams—a team working on each side of the patient—allows for simultaneous correction of mobility problems that are often a consequence of cerebral palsy (CP). The multiple operations approach is what Dr. Jim Gage has called “one of the things that differentiates our approach from conventional CP surgery.”

Gage was medical director at the hospital in St. Paul when in 1995 he met Reach Beyond’s Dr. Wally Swanson, who asked him to be a volunteer surgeon at Hospital Vozandes Shell. The program of helping Ecuadorians to walk began with one child. Gage was asked, “Can this boy be helped?” as he studied before him a 12-year-old whose mobility consisted of crawling. Struck by a car a decade earlier, the boy had been left crippled. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | April 17, 2017

After 5 Decades Nate Saint Memorial School to Close in Ecuador

Nate Saint (Archive photo used with permission of Mission Aviation Fellowship)

After educating missionary children for five decades, the Ecuador-based Nate Saint Memorial School (NSMS) is due to close with the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

“We are thankful for the 51 years that it has served the missionary population,” said the school board’s president, Renee Fogg, in a March 7 recommendation to the managers of Reach Beyond’s Latin America Region. “The Lord has been very faithful.” The board cited as rationale for the closing, a continual decline in enrollments.

Their recommendation was accepted and formalized by Dan Shedd, the region’s executive director, who observed that “even with the CHILI (Community Health Intercultural Learning Initiative) program [based in Shell, Ecuador], we don’t necessarily see a huge influx of families with young children coming in.”

Adding to Shedd’s comment, missionary Hermann Schirmacher said that “some—or more—missionaries do homeschooling now.”

A dozen students currently attend the school, including two in high school, six in middle school and four in elementary. Two of them are children of Renee Fogg and her husband, Eric, of the mission’s community development office in Shell.

The enrollment number compares with 15 students a year earlier. In the last few years, school attendance was in the 20s, including 29 students in 2012-2013, which was the year that Reach Beyond closed its Shell hospital after five decades of operation. The NSMS 2017-2018 projected enrollment was three full-time students, according to Fogg. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | April 3, 2017

Injuries as Mission Plane Crashes in Ecuador’s Jungle


Photo used with permission of Eco Amazonico (

By Ralph Kurtenbach

A pilot and his passengers were injured when a plane operated by Alas de Socorro Ecuador, (ADSE) crashed Wednesday, March 29 after takeoff in the Amazon rain forest of Ecuador in South America. ADSE is the Ecuadorian affiliate of the U.S.-based mission agency, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).

When the Quest Kodiak 9-passenger plane struck a river bed near Moretecocha in Ecuador’s eastern province of Pastaza, the pilot, Captain José Daniel Soria, and some of his six passengers sustained injuries, according to the Dirección General de Aviación Civil (DGAC) of Ecuador. Initial medical care was provided at Shell-Mera, with five of the seven released after treatment. Soria was subsequently transferred to a Quito hospital. On Thursday a seven-person team of investigators from Ecuador’s DCAC began investigating the crash. (video interview in Spanish)

Some of the Kodiak planes have been produced under Quest Aircraft’s Quest Mission Team (QMT) program, and several have been delivered to such organizations as MAF and Jungle Aviation and Radio Service (JAARS). Since 2013 ADSE has been flying its Quest Kodiak from Shell, where ASDE maintains its administrative offices and hangar, serving some 200 remote communities of the rain forest.

ADSE has been flying the skies of Ecuador since 1948, when MAF missionary pilot Nate Saint established a base at Shell and began assisting people of the jungle through flight, coupling his work with sharing the gospel of Christ. Ecuador’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has certified ADSE as an air taxi operator and as an Approved Maintenance Organization. Pilots and mechanics are licensed by the CAA.

About 20 years ago on September 14, 1997, a Cessna 185 plane slammed into a 9,500-foot mountain between Shell and Baños, killing ADSE’s Job Orellana, his brother, Walter, and MAF pilot Dan Osterhus. The pilots had been involved in a search-and-rescue mission to locate a commercial Cessna airplane, which had crashed in the same region a day earlier, killing its two occupants.

Photo used with permission of Eco Amazonico. (

Posted by: calloftheandes | April 3, 2017

Radio Station HCJB, Wayne Pederson Honored at NRB


Wayne and Willi Pederson

by Harold Goerzen

 National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) honored Radio Station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, and former Reach Beyond President Wayne Pederson during Proclaim 17, the organization’s recent convention in Orlando, Fla.

HCJB Ecuador, an Ecuadorian foundation now operating the station that began in 1931, garnered the International Media Award while Pederson received the Milestone Award for at least 50 years of “exemplary service in Christian broadcasting.”

85 Years of Broadcasting

HCJB, the world’s first missionary radio station, was honored for its still-pioneering work in using new media to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

Geoff Kooistra, director of services for the foundation, received the media award during the final day of the four-day event. The honor goes to an organization based outside the U.S. that “excels in media ministry—exercising integrity and faithfulness to the cause of Christ while demonstrating unusual effectiveness—and excels in innovative uses of electronic media in the proclamation of the gospel of Christ in impacting the target culture.”

Founded in Quito, Ecuador, in 1931, the station has in recent years expanded its broadcasts to include livestreaming, exclusive online print and video content, and social media interaction with listeners. The new initiatives have broadened the impact of the station, known as the Voice of the Andes, which ranks eleventh in popularity among Quito’s 45 FM stations, according to the ratings firm Mercados y Proyectos.

Today the FM station’s livestream draws about 17,000 visitors monthly while a youth-focused livestream featuring music has listeners in almost 40 countries. The station’s website,, attracts 360,000 visitors annually. In the first six months of 2016 more than 600 decisions for Christ were made by visitors directed to the website,

Geoff and Tammy Kooistra

While traditional broadcasting remains central to HCJB Ecuador’s mission, “we realized that we needed to be less radio-centric and integrate other platforms and opportunities more,” said Kooistra. “Everything works together: When we make a radio program, we need to think about the content being multiplatform. We are not just speaking on the air, but how will this work on the web and how might it be used in an article or on social media.”

Radio Station HCJB had simple beginnings—a 200-watt transmitter in a sheepshed—leading to the station’s growth in geographic reach accompanied by broadcast technology innovations still talked of in engineering circles.

A gala event to honor the station took place in Quito in December. It included videos featuring historic photos, speeches that extolled achievements, and narratives about the focused vision decades ago of the founders’ intent on Christian broadcasting. A new commemorative book called HCJB 85 Años Pasión por el Servicio (HCJB 85 Years of Passion for Service) was distributed at the celebration. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | April 3, 2017

First CHILI Commissioning Service Held in Ecuador

by Harold Goerzen

After studying community development in Ecuador’s eastern jungles for six months, four of the graduates of a mission agency’s newest training program are set to serve in the mountains of a closed country for the next 1½ years.

It was a drizzly afternoon in the Amazonian community of Shell on Sunday, Feb. 26, as dozens of people gathered—some in person and others online—to view the inaugural commissioning service of Reach Beyond’s new Community Health Intercultural Learning Initiative (CHILI).

Four of the five graduates will serve together as a unit, working alongside local partners in an unreached country while graduate Heidi Salzman will remain in Ecuador. She will focus on studying Spanish, writing promotional materials and helping with the next program set to begin in September.

“I was sad to see the classes completed, especially since I would soon bid goodbye to the team I’d grown so close to,” said Salzman, whose parents, Paul and Shari Salzman, serve as Reach Beyond missionaries on loan to partner Inspiracom in El Paso, Texas. “However, I was thrilled to see my team take this beautiful opportunity to share Jesus in a closed country.”

Some 25 people were present for the send-off while another 17 people witnessed the event online from places as diverse as Germany, U.K., Turkey and Alaska. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | March 22, 2017

Building Trust Goes with Constructing Water Project

by Ralph Kurtenbach

César Cortez says that using Loma de Pacay-Guacalgoto’s only church building as a venue for residents to gather and plan a clean water project was one thing. Winning their confidence to then talk of a personal relationship with Jesus—now that was another.

Direct opposition to Cortez initially came from the rural community’s catechist, a middle-aged woman named Rita. Cortez said her assertion was plain enough—he was “sent from the devil.” But in time the rocky relations warmed as he went about his work the best he could, given additional difficulties of designing an appropriate system for the Ecuadorian village.

César Cortez

On trench digging days, Cortez vied for a place beside Rita. Then engaging her in conversation as they rested on their spades or shovels in the rarefied air of the high plain, he aimed to come across as productive, not merely as espousing a different doctrine.

“Basically it is a very hard working community and the challenges had nothing to do with administration or work, but rather with nature . . . with the climate of the sector.” The work continued, with periodic sessions to educate people on hygiene and health habits. “And along with that, of course, to change values,” added Cortez. “To do so, it was necessary to teach the Word of God.” Read More…

Edison Caiza cuts the ribbon to inaugurate a clean water system at Loma de Pacay-Guacalgoto. Project chairman Pedro Huilca (left front) and Reach Beyond’s Wim de Groen observe the ceremony.

Reach Beyond, which has been assisting with clean water systems for more than three decades dating back to Ecuador in the early 1980s, is celebrating World Water Day today. According to the U.N., over 663 million people worldwide are living without safe water. In 2016 alone Reach Beyond helped complete 15 clean water projects: nine in West Africa (Benin and Ghana) and six in Ecuador. The following story details the completion of the latest clean water project high in the Ecuadorian Andes.

When the sun shines you make hay because tomorrow may bring rain. The rural folk of Loma de Pacay-Guacalgoto in Ecuador know this well, as weather-related challenges are certain to accompany their livelihood amid the clouds and fog of the Andes.

With spectacular mountain vistas, these families—many related to each other—adapt to delays by working more diligently when time allows.

This fact wasn’t lost on Reach Beyond’s César Cortez who came to know the people of the community in early 2016 when the community and Reach Beyond’s community development team began collaborating on a clean water project.

Regularly, clouds drift up from the neighboring coastal province of Guayas, then bank up, Cortez said, and “it was a long waiting process more than anything.” Fog prolonged his topographic survey, which is critical to the process of setting up a gravity-feed water system.

Additionally, the farmers postponed any trenching so they could first harvest their crops, but then dug nearly eight miles of trenches to bury the pipes. An earlier water system had fallen into disrepair, and erosion on a trail exposed the shallowly laid plastic pipes that had been installed with less care.

The new pipes—some installed at altitudes of up to 12,000 feet—are buried more than a yard deep and will remain undisturbed by cultivation when planting everything from cabbages to corn. “So we had to wait this whole year,” Cortez explained. “The work itself only took 45 days.”

At the system’s inauguration on Thursday, Feb. 16, a band played, a ribbon was cut symbolically and a politician railed against what he said was an unjust jailing of the mayor who arranged gravel and rock deliveries to Loma de Pacay-Guacalgoto for the project. (The official allegedly could not produce receipts to account for financial transactions.) Read More…

Copies of the book HCJB 85 años Pasión por el Servicio were given to attendees of the radio station´s anniversary celebration

Copies of the book HCJB 85 años Pasión por el Servicio were given to attendees of the radio station´s anniversary celebration

War, peace, looming disaster, personal trauma—these themes all appear in the pages of a recent commemorative book about the pioneer missionary broadcaster, HCJB La Voz de los Andes (HCJB The Voice of the Andes).

On the pages of a Spanish-language book, HCJB 85 Años Pasión por el Servicio (HCJB 85 Years of Passion for Service) anecdotes reveal how Christian media in Ecuador has touched the lives of its listeners.

The broadcasts began in 1931 on a 200-watt transmitter when radio was in its infancy around the world. The founding families were in the vanguard of broadcasting, and down through the years, innovation has marked the station’s progress.

Former Ecuadorian Army General Paco Moncayo, currently running for president of the country. (Photo used with permission of El Comercio)

Former Ecuadorian Army General Paco Moncayo, currently running for president of the country. (Photo used with permission of El Comercio)

“I remember as a young lieutenant on the beautiful Curaray River at the Pavacachi and Lolocachi posts [in Ecuador´s rain forest],” recalled former Ecuadorian Army General Paco Moncayo, who is a candidate for president in upcoming Ecuadorian elections. He said that “we had no way of communicating with the rest of the country, so with another lieutenant and some 20 soldiers, we listened to HCJB on the battery-operated radios.”

Decades later during a 1995 border war with Peru (Ecuador’s southern neighbor), Moncayo and his jungle-based troops appreciated hearing news on the solar-powered radios issued to them by the Christian media outlet. News from the outside was revered, especially when Ecuador and Peru signed a peace accord. “For soldiers who are gambling their lives every day, knowing that peace had come was really huge news,” Moncayo said.

Horace Easterling

Horace Easterling

Former missionary Horace Easterling recounted how a pastor answering the listener helpline at a Bolivian affiliate station of the Spanish-language satellite radio network, ALAS (América Latina vía Satélite), received a call from a teenager in distress. “It took several minutes for her crying to become a mournful sob, as he gently spoke words of encouragement and reaffirmed that he would help her in any problem she was experiencing,” wrote Easterling.

The caller feared she might bleed to death. When asked about its cause, she confided that she’d had an abortion hours earlier. Her parents knew nothing of the abortion or the pregnancy. When the caller finally conceded to give her address, help was sent immediately. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | February 10, 2017

Ecuador Radio Station Marks 85 Years in Gala Fashion

Gazing at a gallery of historic HCJB photos at an anniversary celebration marking 85 years of broadcasting.

Gazing at a gallery of historic HCJB photos at an anniversary celebration marking 85 years of broadcasting.

Let’s face it, compressing 85 years of history into a single evening event is a tough assignment.

If an anniversary ceremony for Radio Station HCJB in Ecuador failed to squeeze the story into a capsule, it wasn’t for lack of trying. The Ecuador radio station’s rich history was told on Dec. 1 in Quito, with the event’s emcees recounting the background of the media outlet, telling about its dedicated staff and explaining the influence of the outlet’s impact on society.

The special program components blended to relate how simple beginnings—a 200-watt transmitter in a sheepshed—led to HCJB’s growth in geographic reach accompanied by broadcast technology innovations still talked of in engineering circles.

But alas, stories rife with luscious detail needed to be condensed. And why? Because—as with radio broadcasting itself—the clock is running. Ever running.

Anabella Cabezas, director HCJB Ecuador and a Reach Beyond board member, together with her staff, put together a program that included videos featuring historic photos, speeches that extolled achievements, and narrative about the focused vision decades ago of HCJB’s founders’ intent on Christian broadcasting. In a 2½-hour marathon that also featured recognitions of key people, the segments were interspersed with lively musical interludes that drew rousing audience participation.

The station’s first broadcast emanated from the living room of the home of the ministry’s co-founder, Clarence Jones, in Quito, the Ecuadorian capital, on Dec. 25, 1931. Read More…

By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service

An American missionary has received an award for his decades of work ministering to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC, whose 50-year fight against the government had been the world’s longest continuous war when it ended in a peace agreement last August.

Russell M. Stendal (photo by David Hitt, used with permission from

Russell M. Stendal (photo by David Hitt, used with permission from

According to World Watch Monitor , the missionary, Russell Stendal, has been in Colombia for over half a century, having first arrived with his parents – also missionaries to the indigenous people there; it was this which later helped him build relationships with the rebels.

Stendal has been kidnapped by the FARC and by other rebel groups, but he launched his Bogota-based ministry, Colombia for Christ, with his captors in mind. His audacious vision: that all of the FARC can learn about Christianity and that, if embraced, it will change guerrillas’ hearts and minds.

World Watch Monitor says that Stendal was honored by a group called First Step Forum in Bogota on Sunday, January 22, 2017, with the Shahbaz Bhatti Freedom Award, named after Pakistan’s first Christian Cabinet Minister, murdered almost five years ago for his criticism of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and his defense of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman still on death row for “blasphemy.”p1100452

In his speech, First Step Forum’s Finnish founder, Johan Candelin, said Stendal deserved the award for his “extraordinary peace work for 32 years”, saying that his work had led to a change of heart in many FARC leaders, and also in Colombian Army leaders: “Many have been healed as a result of prayer”, he said. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | January 27, 2017

Healthcare Advocate, Communicator Susan Olsen Dies at the Age of 67

Susan Olsen

Susan Olsen

by Harold Goerzen

Susan Olsen was struggling in the early 1980s when she met John and Yvonne Gardeen in Minneapolis, Minn. As retiree Roger Reimer, then serving as healthcare director for Reach Beyond in Ecuador, put it, “They took her into their home and treated her as a daughter.”

Intrigued with the concept of a mission hospital, Olsen traveled with the couple to Ecuador where they visited their son, Gary, and his wife, Mary, and family who were serving as missionaries at Hospital Vozandes-Quito (HVQ). Gary was the administrator of the hospital, a facility operated by Reach Beyond.

Olsen was impressed with the staff and the quality of the physical and spiritual care given to patients at HVQ, but she also found a hospital in dire need of renovations and updates that were critical to keeping the doors open and modernizing its services.

Project Life, a decade-long, $4-million construction program to expand HVQ, was gearing up to launch in early 1987, but funding was minimal, and Olsen was eager to help. That’s when her life was changed with an exciting new assignment.

“The mission had a policy at that time that did not allow [professional] fundraisers, and although she had an interest in promoting Project Life, we weren’t sure how to appropriately get her involved,” Reimer related. “As with a lot of those who came to see the ministries, she became an advocate for the hospital.”

Olsen came to Ecuador as a working visitor in the fall of 1986, then joined Reach Beyond as a full-time missionary in March 1987, serving as director of resource development for the Healthcare Division.

Working primarily out of an office provided by First Covenant Church in Minneapolis but making frequent trips to Quito, her new assignment fit her background perfectly. She had graduated in communications with an emphasis on healthcare from the University of Minnesota, and she had helped produce audiovisual presentations for several hospitals in the area. Read More…

Posted by: calloftheandes | January 16, 2017

Legendary Broadcaster in Ecuador Now Quiet on AM Dial

HCJB's Edmundo Zarria (wearing headphones) and two others (probably Raul Cedeño and Raul Arias) covering a session of the Ecuadorian congress. (Archive photo)

HCJB’s Edmundo Zarria (wearing headphones) and two others (probably Raul Cedeño and Raul Arias) covering a session of the Ecuadorian congress. (Archive photo)

by Ralph Kurtenbach

Hours prior to noisy celebrations as Ecuadorians welcomed 2017 with fireworks, an evangelical radio station with history dating to the nation’s earliest broadcast media went silent on the AM frequency band at 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31.

The last song to play featured panpipes and stringed instruments accompanying women singing a Christmas song in the Quichua language followed by comments in the same language by Luis Santillán.

Luis Santillan (Archive photo)

Luis Santillan (Archive photo)

Earlier in 2016, signal strength from its 50,000-watt transmitter had been reduced and airtime pulled back in keeping with the decision made by the board of trustees of partner HCJB Ecuador to not file with the Agencia de Regulación y Control de las Telecomunicaciones (Telecommunications Regulatory and Control Agency or ARCOTEL) for renewal of the 690 kHz frequency.

It was a frequency that HCJB La Voz de los Andes (HCJB The Voice of the Andes) had held since 1974 on the medium wave (AM) dial. The silencing of 690 AM came seven years after shortwave broadcasts were terminated from the international transmitter site at the nearby town of Pifo.

HCJB’s first programs aired on Christmas Day, 1931, when there were a dozen or perhaps fewer radio sets in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito. Nevertheless, a telephone call afterwards convinced its founding families that their program of Christmas carols and preaching had been heard. Since then the programming has offered listeners Christian teaching, music, public affairs reporting, news and more.

The station operated under the auspices of World Radio Missionary Fellowship, Inc., which has used different mission agency names throughout the years, including HCJB World Radio, HCJB Global and as of 2014, Reach Beyond.

Down through the decades, history has been recorded as HCJB-AM’s announcers and journalists have told of events in Ecuador and elsewhere. In January 1956 the station was instrumental in informing the world that five evangelical foreigners had been speared to death in Ecuador’s Amazon rain forest during a risky overture to take the gospel to the Waorani, then an unreached tribal group.

Reporters for the religious station also told listeners in May 1981 of the deaths in a plane crash of Ecuadorian president Jaime Roldós, along with his wife and others. Via the airwaves, HCJB listeners were warned over the years of threats of volcanic eruptions and informed of devastation by earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Diverse cultural aspects of Ecuador were showcased in interviews with unique musical styles from the nation and the region featured daily. Few if any aspects of Ecuadorian life were left untouched by the station’s coverage, and some of its announcers became household names to listeners. Read More…

Older Posts »