As Verbo Ministries in Ecuador passes its twenty-fifth anniversary our churches are experiencing accelerating church growth and ministry expansion in the middle of a nation-wide awakening to the Gospel. There are more than 2,000 believers in the Verbo Quito South congregation alone, and it’s only one of four in the capital city.
Troubles Challenge Team
It wasn’t always that way. After Tom and Guisela Becotte and their Guatemalan team members planted the first church in Quito it was such tough going that at one point they considered giving up and going on to some other country. When I visited in March, 1984, Guatemalan missionary pastor Julio Dominguez died literally in front of me from a heart attack at the age of thirty. This was a heavy blow to the team.
A short time later the other Verbo leaders in Guatemala asked Mary and me to pray about helping the Becottes. I heard a clear “Yes!” from God. In May, 1985, we moved to this Andean country with our four children to help strengthen the mission. I had been working strongly in Guatemala with concepts of signs and wonders power evangelism, healing prayer, and pastoral counseling, which brought in a special element of the supernatural.
Supernatural Happenings Begin
God caused the small congregation of around 65 to grow quickly. It more than doubled the first year. We had special meetings every Sunday afternoon to train people in how to pray for the sick in a hands-on way. Even new Christians were learning to move in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and pray for the sick with success.
Backtracking a bit, Ecuador wasn’t a new experience for me. As a 16-year-old exchange student be-fore I became a Christian, I lived with a Quito family. That visit planted a love in me for Latin Americans that later motivated me to go to Guatemala as one of the missionary founders of Verbo Ministries.
Continuing the story, a few months after our arrival two groups of spiritually hungry Christians from Pasaje, an agricultural town on the southern coast, came seeking the baptism in the Holy Spirit. God fed their hunger with signs and healings.
Missionaries Go to Pasaje
Shortly afterwards they asked us to send them a pastor. Guatemalan team member Henry Gomez and his Ecuadorian wife, Mary Sol, moved to Pasaje to strengthen the growing congregation, and thus our second church in the country was born.
In Quito the congregation grew rapidly under the influence of healings, the operation of spiritual gifts and a general excitement about God’s power among us. We trained local leaders to pastor a spreading network of home groups. Because of Verbo’s commitment to education we started a school at our new central Quito meeting site in an area called Mañosca. Over 500 children from elementary through high school now receive classes there.
More Is Better for the People
Quito is a large city in a long narrow valley. Traveling from one end to another, especially at rush hour, is an exercise in patience. We realized that while megachurches had become stylish in many areas, that our members would benefit more by strategically placed churches in different sectors of the city. The home groups in the northern part of the city formed a new congregation under the tutelage of Carlos and Alma Pineda, Guatemalan members of the original team.
Later we added a congregation in south Quito that now has 2,500 attendees. Verbo North and Mañosca have memberships of 1,500 members each. There are also two additional congregations in Greater Quito.
The ministry continued to expand in the rest of the country. A group from Riobamba joined us and has now grown to four congregations.
Churches Multiply Everywhere
Missionaries John Guido and Bob Capaldi brought their small congregation in Cuenca into relationship with us. That church has grown to about 1,500 members with two daughter congregations. They also formed a medical foundation with a small hospital that serves as headquarters for medical specialists who serve the poor in out-lying areas.
Verbo Cuenca’s FM radio station is one of the most listened-to stations in the region. The combination of music and daily practical Christian talk shows has generated a broad interest that has helped bring many to Jesus. Both Cuenca and Riobamba also have schools.
Quechua Speakers Join Verbo
There are now over twenty-five congregations spread around the country. There are two growing congregations in Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador. There is a dynamic church in Lago Agrio, which is located in the Amazon basin on the eastern side of the Andes. There are six congregations of Quechua-speaking Native Americans in the foothills of Chimborazo, the tallest volcano in Ecuador at over 21,000 feet.
There is a expanding congregation in Ambato between Quito and Riobamba, another in Loja in the southern banana growing area, three on the Pacific coast in El Oro province as well as in Manta, which is north of Guayaquil. We also have small groups that have started in a number of other cities such as Ibarra, Naranjal and Latacunga that our main leaders visit on a weekly basis.
Locals Serve Church
Ecuadorians pastor almost all these churches. Most of our North American and Guatemalan missionaries have spread out from the original works to equip ever more saints for the work of the ministry as competent national pastors have taken over their original roles. One family is serving in Verbo Madrid, Spain, and another in Florida. Our vision has always been to train men and women for the ministry so that we can continuously manifest the Kingdom of God in new areas. It is amazing how things can grow and expand: 25 years and over one congregation for each year! God is good!