January 19, 2012
In November, three CPC members traveled to Pichiyacu, Ecuador to train the pastor and key leaders in leadership, apologetics, and mercy ministry. Associate Pastor Jonathan Culley, Elder Mark Diener, and Deacon Gaston Formisano, who served as translator, spent a week equipping leaders in spiritual and practical church matters.
"And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others" 2 Timothy 2:2
Once they arrived in the jungle village of Pichiyacu, the men conducted daily training sessions to equip the pastor and key leaders in how to set up a leadership development process where leaders know how to "make disciples who make disciples." This included extensive training on why and how to raise up biblical elders and deacons as well as small group leader training. Mark explained, “By this time next year, they’ll have four elders who are trained in leadership.”
Another unexpected way God used the three men to bless the Pichiyacu church was to help Pastor Bolivar Ruiz set up a "Mercy Fund" and a "Mercy Committee" where practical needs could be met by the church without overburdening the pastor. “Because the people will be contributing to the Mercy Fund,” Jonathan said, “the Fund provided a way for the people of the church – not just the pastor – to ‘own’ the solution to their own people’s needs.”
Mark said that, for him, the best experience was talking with Pastor Bolivar in the evenings. “It’s incredible to see the passion he has for his people. He and his family make sacrifices to be there – he’s a missionary pastor. He comes from a bigger city, and now he’s isolated; he has no one to shepherd him.” Jonathan agreed, “We had numerous heart-to-heart talks with Bolivar where we were able to go deep and give him a ‘safe place’ to confess his struggles, fears, and pressures as a pastor. Bolivar told us that he had never experienced this sort of ‘pastoral coaching’ before, and that it greatly energized him to keep persevering in his pastoral call on the River.”
While three CPC members went in person to support Pastor Bolivar and the believers in Pichiyacu, we as a church can also support them from afar by keeping Pastor Bolivar, his family, and the Pichiyacu church in our prayers.
Over the years, God has greatly used Ted Wareing, the Director of Life Changing Ministries (LCM) and one of our very own members, to establish this church in the jungles of North Ecuador. We are honored to partner with LCM as we jointly envision many more church plants up and down this river. Please pray that Jesus would continue building His church by raising up laborers who will lead the River People out of darkness and into the light of the Gospel.