"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
It has now been over 3 months since the major earthquake that shook communities in Ecuador. Many lost their lives and many more lost their homes. The families in the affected areas were absolutely devastated by the immense losses.
"Our first contact to the affected area was through the wife of one of our Ecuadorian pastors. Karen has family in San Vicente, a coastal town 7 hours north of Guayaquil. We soon received a plea to come and bring whatever help we could," our partner in Ecuador recalled.
IDES' mission partners in the area responded quickly after the first plea, receiving IDES funding to provide basic necessities and assist in the clean-up process. But, devastation from an earthquake such as this takes much longer than a couple of weeks to recover from. Our partners continue to respond in the affected communities, months later.
According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, a disaster has a four-stage life cycle: 1) Mitigation, 2) Preparedness, 3) Response, and 4) Recovery. Unfortunately, it usually takes a large-scale disaster to provoke governments and communities to ever take steps into stages one and two. In the case of the Ecuador earthquake, stage 3 (response) took place days and weeks after the initial event. Now, communities are moving into stage 4 (recovery), which includes rebuilding.
"On our second trip, we did more than just take provisions. We wanted our help to be more than temporary relief," our partner said. "We wanted to help rebuild the devastated community."
Not only did our partners wish to rebuild homes, but they also felt distinctly led to consider building and planting a church in the area, in order to continue to bless the community long-term. Our partner knew that there would be some "red-tape" and regulations to follow-through upon before beginning the rebuilding process for the families in their community.
Thanks to a mutual connection with a family member, our partners landed a meeting with the community's mayor. After praying and discussing the rebuilding plans including the new church, our partners decided to boldly explain to the mayor exactly what they hoped to do, including their mission statement to actively share the love of Jesus Christ with community members.
"The mayor was so thrilled with our proposal, so excited that Christians would be mobilized to bless those in her community, she welcomed us with open arms," our partner said. "With tears in her eyes, the mayor said, 'Welcome to San Vicente! Please build a church in our area. I receive you with open arms and I thank you for your proposal. I give you my word that I will give you land to build that church.' "
The mayor then pulled the appropriate strings with her team and gave our partners a construction permit within 24 hours. Usually, it’s takes at least 30 days to receive a construction permit after much review.
Our partners prayed with the mayor at the end of their meeting together, then left with a renewed hope and dream for the community. It was clear that God was at work long before the earthquake ever occurred. But since the disaster, the families living around our partners' mission area began to open up more and more to the message and hope of the Gospel.
"What a blessing it is to see God opening doors to building homes, but more importantly, to building His kingdom on earth. We look forward to continue partnering with [IDES' supporters] to accomplish what God has laid before us."
Stories like this are what your generosity creates. God has blessed us in order to bless others in their time of need. All of us at IDES are extremely thankful for the opportunity to partner with you in obediently blessing others.
"The Disaster Life Cycle." Center for Disaster Philanthropy. CDP, n.d. Web. 26 July 2016. <http://disasterphilanthropy.org/the-disaster-life-cycle/>