Posted by: calloftheandes | May 1, 2013

Retirement Means Retreading for Missionary Couple in Ecuador

In an age of two-week mission trips, Becky Rhon’s experience represents something very different—a calling by God to make proclaiming the gospel a career endeavor. Witnessing her parents’ devotion to the Lord and the people of Ecuador made ministry there seem as natural as the career choice others make when they take over the reins of a family business.

Becky and Germán Rhon

Becky and Germán Rhon

Nowadays, fast friendships and firsthand mission field experience are packed into short-term trips lasting days or weeks, but Becky tells a far different story. Though limited by serious health challenges that confine her at home in Quito, she joined with other staff from HCJB Global for a March meeting. During a segment that featured Becky and her husband, Germán, she was asked, “How old were you when you arrived in Ecuador?”

“I was 1 year, 9 months old,” was her immediate reply. She grew up as a child of SIL missionaries who translated the Scriptures into Tsáfiqui, the language of the Tsáchila people who live in Ecuador’s coastal jungle.

As Becky and Germán, who is Ecuadorian, were interviewed after announcing their retirement from the mission, the story emerged from a lifetime of obedience to the Lord to help spread the gospel of Christ.

After graduating from high school, she studied for a year in the U.S. Then returning to Ecuador, she was living with her parents in Santo Domingo where her parents had ready access to many Tsáchila communities. The Tsáchila are often referred to as the Colorado (or “red”) for the vermilion coloring that men of the tribe use to adorn their hair. (Brethren mission work among the Colorados described in an audio interview. It is 10 minutes into the program.)

“I had only been back for a couple of months when Germán was passing through Santo Domingo,” Becky explained. “His older brother—in cahoots with my mom—persuaded him to stay over instead of going on to Guayaquil.” In 2½ months she became Germán’s bride. They began their marriage—which has since passed the 40-year mark—in Australia.

“We didn’t have the goal of working in missions per se. But everywhere we went, we both always helped out in the churches or wherever we could be useful,” Becky said. “For example, in Australia we worked with many Spanish-speaking immigrants, but it was always after hours.”

Upon returning to Ecuador, where Germán had studied at Bible institutes, he was a good candidate to work at Hospital Vozandes-Shell (HVO). Serving as the hospital’s maintenance director, he showed an aptitude for pastoral work and counseling. In his own heart—as well as in the eyes of the hospital director, Jim Estes—Germán was a pastor.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s as they worked together in Shell, the Estes and Rhon families formed a friendship that continues to this day. Estes recounted to fellow missionaries at their staff meeting that on various occasions in those eight years that Germán worked at HVO, his advice on both cultural and spiritual aspects of solving problems proved invaluable to the administrator, Estes.

“Germán always has had a pastoral heart and has encouraged many to be involved in local church work, including me,” concurred Roger Reimer, another administrator at that time.

Rhon would always greet Reimer upon his arrival from Quito each month for administrative meetings in Shell and to meet with the hospital staff. “Germán would meet me at the parking place and ask if the car I was driving needed any maintenance,” said Reimer, who now lives in Oregon. “In those days the Shell-Baños road was a rough, narrow dirt ledge along the side of the mountains. Vehicles really took a beating from that road, and I was always so grateful for Germán’s care for our cars.”

After HCJB Global’s candidate committee approved the Rhons to begin raising finances for full-time missionary service, the couple traveled to the U.S. to speak to individuals and at churches to share their vision. In the early 1990s they returned to Ecuador as full-fledged missionaries.

In the last 21 years, Germán has served in various administrative roles, ranging from facilities manager to director of human resources. For several years he headed a corps of chaplains at Hospital Vozandes-Quito (HVQ). His weekends for the last 16 years, meanwhile, were filled with the responsibilities of pastoring a Quito church, Nueva Creación (New Creation).

“He would ask me periodically to pastor with him,” Estes said, “Finally, God spoke and I agreed,” Estes related. For 10 years they have collaborated in helping people in central Quito find the Savior and then keep their feet on the narrow path that leads to eternal life.

Confronting serious health challenges after the onset of fibromyalgia—later complicated by arthritis and heart problems—Becky has spent much less time in the public eye. From home she ministers to women of the church. She has also written dozens of poems about the Christian life, specifically regarding her own walk with Jesus.

“Anyone receiving the Rhons’ prayer letters through the years has been treated to her poems,” Estes told the missionaries at the Quito meeting. Afterwards, Becky read aloud a few selections, including the poem, “But I Do Know,” which begins as follows:

I don’t know all your storylines, blueprints or plans,
Nor how all of infinity flows through your hands.
I can’t grasp all your mysteries, your methods, your mind,
Or your thoughts so impossibly higher than mine.

Then revealing lessons of dependence and trust upon the Savior she’s learned in the school of suffering, Becky continues with:

I can’t always perceive that “all things work for good”;
When in pain, it’s not easy to think that they could.
So I don’t know why at some times I bask in your grace,
While at others it seems like you’ve hidden your face.
And I don’t know why some days bring smiles, some days grief;
Some hold fears and delays, others grateful relief.
But I do know you love me—through smooth seas or rough.
I know that you are—and that’s more than enough!

To illustrate that the bonds of Christian friendship with HCJB Global remain vibrant, Germán reiterated his longstanding appreciation for the mission. “Ever since I’ve come to know HCJB, my prayer for each of you has been for God to guide you and for God to have mercy on this mission because there are many things to keep doing,” he said.

Although some paths into their future are not yet clear, Becky told the crowd that as the mission shifts from a direct ministry model to facilitating local ministries, she and Germán felt it was time to leave. They feel called to continue volunteering as HCJB Global retirees, serving the people of Ecuador or wherever else God leads them in future. Germán plans to continue pastoring and counseling with hopes that on occasion his own work will prompt collaborative efforts with the mission.

Which One Will You Be?

Some men build bridges where no rivers run,

While leaving the lifelines o’er chasms unstrung.

Some flaunt their fasting, but food that they shun

Never reaches the hands of the ones who have none.

Some claim they open their hearts to all men,

Then grow high their hedges so none can see in.

Some kiss for silver – traitor’s expertise –

Thus mocking the trust of a greeting of peace.

Some tune their time so their lusts are well fed;

Their kids go un-lullabied, lonely to bed.

Some pray for pow’r and wealth, cost what they will,

Ignoring those broken by dreams unfulfilled.

Some, loud and lusty, will scarce spare a glance

For the one who would speak . . . but is given no chance.

God spans the canyons and fills hungry men,

holds open His Heart and begs all to look in.

He is restoring the trust of a kiss

and singing the love songs the children have missed.

God hands His Hope to the ones who despair.

He listens to souls who’ve had no one to care.

Now God looks for builders and singers and friends,

Restorers and listeners to help serve His ends.

Each of God’s children can say, “Here am I”;

The vision He grants comes alive in reply.

So which one will you be? Which task will you claim?

With which labor of grace will you honor His Name?

-Becky Rhon

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Responses

  1. […] the evenings they held church services. Preaching on the first night was by Germán Rhon*, who pastors a Spanish-language congregation in Quito, Iglesia Nueva Creación (New Creation Church). The church was founded by him and […]


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