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…

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