Posted by: calloftheandes | June 23, 2016

Bagels, Bible and Rebuilding: Collaborative Effort Helps Ecuador Quake Victims

mompiche34At a restaurant, they bowed their heads to pray for the victims of the April 16 earthquake that rocked Ecuador’s coast, and soon afterwards they put their hands to hammers and saws to help rebuild people’s homes.

A cell group from English Fellowship Church (EFC)* in Quito, they meet weekly at a local restaurant, Mister Bagel. In lighter moments—amid peals of laughter that often accompany their breakfast discussions—they refer to themselves as the “First Bagel Church.”mompiche26

Ron Borman, an EFC elder, and engineer Jim Childs* most often lead a Bible lesson. No collection plate is passed, but some extra cash remains after Borman uses what people have laid on the table to cover breakfast costs.

And so in discussing ways to help survivors of the 7.8-magnitude temblor, Childs reviewed their “bank” (bills tucked into Leviticus 26 in the Old Testament). Then he announced the amount to help to cover travel, food and board for the June 7-10 trip to Mompiche in Esmeraldas province. It amounted to several hundred dollars.

Rúben Alvear and Jim Childs at a breakfast Bible study in Quito.

Rúben Alvear and Jim Childs at a breakfast Bible study in Quito.

Prior to leaving Quito, Borman’s team received donations for rebuilding costs from different sources, including ministries that a decade or so ago were start-ups by Reach Beyond missionaries.

In the intervening years, the fledgling ministries have since taken flight on 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 Tippitt*).

A U.S. group hosted by Don Wolfram* gave financial help, as did Larry Salay, who does Salasaca Quichua translation work.

The six-person EFC team arrived in Mompiche three weeks after the coastal town had been jolted by a pair of 6.8-strength aftershocks on May 18. Their local contact was Emilio Velez, who pastors an Assemblies of God congregation in Mompiche.

With hats to protect from the equatorial sun, Ron Borman, left, and Caleb Smith, right , help others to frame a house in Mompiche.

With hats to protect from the equatorial sun, Ron Borman, left, and Caleb Smith, right , help others to frame a house in Mompiche.

The work on rebuilding church members’ homes had already begun, and so the Quito group fell to work helping with construction. Even as tin-roofed homes of wood and bamboo were erected on concrete pylons that serve as a foundation, friendships were built.

In the evenings they held church services. Preaching on the first night was by Germán Rhon*, who founded and continues pastoring a Spanish-language congregation in Quito, Iglesia Nueva Creación (New Creation Church). Now-retired missionary Jim Estes* helped for several years in co-pastoring  there. Rhon enjoys the Thursday bagel gatherings and was glad to transport the clothing in his 1977 Chevy van.

On another evening, the preaching was supplied by Borman’s friend, Ramón Umenda, from Sucumbíos province on the opposite side of the Andean mountain range. He looks after the spiritual needs of Christians from the Amazonian Cofán tribe in Sinangue.

Ramón Umenda (center) with Ramón and Silvia Basurto of Mompiche, Ecuador.

Ramón Umenda (center) with Ramón and Silvia Basurto of Mompiche, Ecuador.

When Borman asked Velez just how money raised by the Sinangue group could be used, he indicated that repairs to a fractured wall of the sanctuary would cost about what the Cofán group had brought.

Borman, a missionary with Christian Missions in Many Lands, was pleased with the Cofanes’ vision to help other followers of Jesus. “It’s amazing,” he said, “because at Sinangue they haven’t finished their own church building yet.”

With the help of Rhon, Umenda and Nataly and Diana Bustamante (two Cofán associates) as well as working visitor Caleb Smith*, Borman’s time in Mompiche was instrumental in helping put up three new houses for members of the local Assemblies of God Church.

“Great to hear that First Bagel Church is going strong,” wrote Martin Harrison* upon reading an email message about the ministry trip to help quake victims. “I am a member too!”

Harrison and his wife, Ruth, helped Ecuadorians with clean water projects for several years before returning to their native England. They serve at Reach Beyond-UK’s office in Bradford, coordinating healthcare outreaches in the mission’s Europe/Eurasia Region.

*Indicates a person or entity with present or past ties to Reach Beyond. The story was written by Reach Beyond writer Ralph Kurtenbach, who worked in the Ecuador quake zone in May. He is a regular attendee at the Mister Bagel Bible studies.

Photo shows Quito team visiting the newly constructed home of Lucy Barry. People from the Mompiche congregation had built this house before the Quito team arrived to help.

Photo shows Quito team visiting the newly constructed home of Lucy Barry. People from the Mompiche congregation had built this house before the Quito team arrived to help.

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Responses

  1. […] running as the batteries had been getting weak. “The generator takes 30 seconds to start,” said Childs, a longtime missionary enginer. “I wanted to be sure that we weren’t broadcasting dead […]


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