Posted by: calloftheandes | November 28, 2011

Pan de Vida Outreach to Ecuador’s Poor Marks 10th Anniversary

Oscar Aguirre with children at Pan de Vida (Bread of Life) in Quito

For Oscar Aguirre, a 10-minute transaction on a Quito street meant freshly shined shoes after a Sunday-morning church service. But to this young businessman, the December 2000 encounter meant so much more. Juan Alpapucho, the boy working on Aguirre’s shoes, needed more than enough pay to buy a few pieces of bread.

Work as a shoeshine boy provided little for Alpapucho who hadn’t had a decent meal in days. “I invited him for breakfast,” Aguirre related. As Alpapucho ate bread and yogurt, the two talked, and the young boy accepted Aguirre’s invitation to attend a Spanish-language church that same morning.

At first Aguirre felt shame. Until then he’d done nothing for Ecuador’s poor, but decisive action followed. Soon he had the ear of the board members at English Fellowship Church, and from the pulpit he had the ear of the church’s international congregation in Ecuador’s capital city. Among those who volunteered time, money and other resources was HCJB Global missionary David Tippett.

David Tippett

In February 2001 Tippett, Aguirre and others shared a message from the Bible, then served the first Pan de Vida breakfast to 20 people in the Tippetts’ carport. Hence the ministry, Pan de Vida (Bread of Life), was birthed, with help from various ministries: Alliance Academy International, English Fellowship Church, Extreme Response, Hospital Vozandes-Quito, Samaritan’s Purse and HCJB Global.

What began with plates of scrambled eggs with ham, rice, a banana, a piece of bread and glasses of milk and fruit juice has grown, Aguirre recounted at a special event in October to commemorate the ministry’s 10th anniversary.

Photos show Juan Alpapucho as a boy and shortly before his death following an assault in his taxicab.

At its facilities near Radio Station HCJB, Pan de Vida recently built two new bathrooms. Additionally, the cooking area was enlarged into an industrial kitchen used to prepare thousands of meals every year. The new kitchen was expected to be ready in October.

Education has become a big part of Pan de Vida, helping participants break out of a cycle of poverty. While Ecuador’s government provides textbooks to schoolchildren, costs of school supplies must be met by the students’ families. This year Pan de Vida distributed 124 vouchers each worth US$25 to school-aged children of the ministry’s beneficiaries.

Healthcare needs were met in part at the HCJB Global Hands’ satellite clinic, Clínica La Y, which conducted school physicals, vision screening and dental exams as well as laboratory work.

In the spring and summer quarters of 2011, more than 5,000 people heard God’s Word preached via Pan de Vida and received a hot meal through the midweek feeding program. Eighty-one attendees received medical vouchers, and 131 needy families received food bags. Another 460 people attended a Saturday children’s and adult education program.

The harsh realities of crime, addictions and abuse still face many Ecuadorians, but Pan de Vida gathers in many each week for a dose of hope along with the help. The city’s hard edge touches everyone, but it fatally pierced Alpapucho a decade later on July 8, 2011. Working as a cab driver, he was ferrying three passengers who assaulted him to steal the car. Resisting his attackers, Alpapucho was shot and later died. He is survived by a young wife and two small children.

“He was a good, honest man who knew the Lord and shared the Lord with his family,” said Aguirre in a ministry newsletter. “Please pray for Juan’s wife and children. We pray that God will always watch over them, that they will grow to know the Lord, and that God’s provision will always be over them.”

Another boy, Jonathan, also received help through Pan de Vida. Growing up as children of alcoholics, Jonathan and his siblings were often left to fend for themselves at home for days—usually without food. Jonathan was forced to sell candy in the streets to provide food for his siblings and himself.

His family found out about Pan de Vida soon after the ministry started. Initially, the family came just for the free meals, but as Aguirre asserts, “the Lord uses every opportunity to reveal Himself to us, and for little Jonathan the Word of God took root in his heart.”

Five years ago, when Jonathan’s mom became ill and needed an operation to save her life, the young boy implored her to pray and seek the Lord. “Something happened through that experience that we can only give credit to God for—they put their faith in God!” exclaimed Aguirre. Both Jonathan’s mom and his stepdad have been sober ever since. They’ve also found work, joined Ecuador’s social security plan and paid off debts. In addition, the mother has been a student in a microbusiness sewing project.

What could have been dismissed as a meaningless 10-minute encounter, 10 years later is a ministry offering help and hope to Ecuador’s poor.



  1. […] their own, including Extreme Response (led by Russ and Gina Cline* and Jerry and Dawn Carnill*) and Pan de Vida (Bread of Life, begun by Ecuadorian Oscar Aguirre and Canadian accountant David […]

  2. […] of the opportunity “to encourage the people … doing the work.” She also volunteers at Pan de Vida (Bread of Life), a ministry begun in 2001 when a local businessman, Oscar Aguirre, shared God’s Word and a breakfast with 20 people who had […]


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