Frontline Stories

The church reinvented itself: The Foursquare Church and Quichua Church of Ecuador


Foursquare Church

Pastor Humberto Zúñiga has formed a fairly large congregation in the Historic Center of Quito, one of the areas with the largest amount of vulnerable population within the city as it is made up of a large migrant population from different provinces of the country. The name of the congregation that Humberto leads is the "Foursquare Church".

The importance of spirituality is something that Pastor Humberto emphasised during the COVID-19 pandemic. “An integral evangelism should include meeting the multiple needs of the human being, beyond the spiritual aspect,” he says. “ I believe that this way of thinking can help create awareness in us as a church in being able to fully attend to people. ”

Humberto, as the spiritual leader of hundreds of inhabitants, is happy because he was able to help families with some vegetable kits and a chicken, during the days of social isolation when hunger was gripping families. He was also able to be there for his community with the Word of God through digital media when there was tension in family relationships.

Humberto mentions that what he and his community are living in his church reminds him of the occasion when Jesus fed 5,000 people, even when one of his disciples said it was already too late and it would be very difficult to get food for all those people. However, Jesus said to them, "Give them something to eat." The disciples felt limited because they said they had no way to do so. Humberto says that he thinks this is the condition of some pastors, and possibly of some churches which are extremely limited in terms of resources during the pandemic. Nevertheless, he also mentions how Jesus performed the miracle and multiplied the loaves and the fish for them at that time and that is exactly what he perceives we are called to do now.

Pastor Humberto thanks God for allowing him to be the means to provide food and help for a small part of the multitude of Ecuadorians who needed this type of assistance in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pastor Humberto credits social media as new allies of the faith during the pandemic. He explains that the gospel that started off from the four walls of churches is now all over the world through the different social media outlets and digital platforms. From his own experience, Pastor Humberto has seen how his audience has grown through the new digital church and the audience he previously had every Sunday has now multiplied. “I am reaching almost double or triple the number of people I have previously reached,” the pastor says with great enthusiasm. However, he does admit that the digital media has been a challenge for him because, as he puts it, “I am only a few years old”.

“I want to thank the people, congregations and other institutions that have made it possible to bless these families here in Ecuador and in other parts of the world. May God reward that solidarity and that each day those hearts remain open to continue helping families in need. May God grace these people with his presence every day. Although we do not see them, we love them in the Lord and we bless their lives,” says Humberto after telling us that a large number of the families who go to the church are families who live day by day. He explains that these families are not perceiving their daily income, so if they had any kind of savings, they have probably already run out. He views the provision of food and spiritual accompaniment as two great blessings for families in this pandemic.

The Quichua Church

Working as part of a ministry, Pedro Llagsha has managed to build a Quichua-speaking church made up of indigenous people, mostly from the province of Chimborazo. His job, as he describes it, is to be a church planter in Ecuador.

Pedro mentions that faith is very important right now, despite the losses he has witnessed, because 30 Quichua pastors have died during the pandemic. For Pedro, it is important to maintain trust in God and that everything He does has a purpose.

The Quichua church finds in this pandemic some challenges for its survival, among which are the lack of income for families by not being able to work and the interruption of the education of their sons and daughters, who now have to rely on internet connection for their schooling sessions, indicates Pedro, with much concern.

Followers of the Quichua church have also seen rising food shortage and difficulties in meeting their rent payments. Most of the people have not been able to work, since their income came from the market and commerce in the streets that are intermittent for now. "Their work is unstable and poorly paid," says Pedro with great sadness.

As for the situation of children whose parents and caregivers attend the Quichua church, education has continually been a worrying topic. Children now study online, but it is limited to families who can access and pay for this service. "The church gathers between eighty and one hundred families, of which the majority does not have internet," says Pedro. The church has some members who are teachers, but do not have equipment such as computers, play materials, or a blackboard to continue educating children in small groups. This situation worries the community, whose goal had been for all the children to attend school. "Children miss studying and playing with their friends, as we all now miss doing many things," he says.

Pedro, as a leader of the Quichua church, is looking for partners who can help indigenous families in this difficult situation with educational materials, hygiene and food supplies. With his wise stewardship, Pedro is facilitating and channelling the support received to help indigenous families who attend a Quichua church in the Los Chillos Valley.

World Vision Ecuador, in association with churches in Ecuador, delivered 600 food, health and hygiene kits to vulnerable families who are part of the congregations that regularly attend the churches of Quito and the Los Chillos Valley.

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