I was excited to see twelve members from the Quichua church in Santo Domingo show up to join the Tsachila church in Congoma for a day of prayer and fasting! When we got out of the car, Rosa came over from her nearby home and greeted us warmly with an Ecuadorian hug and a kiss. Pastor Lorenzo walked over to talk with a Tsachila man who was unlocking the church for our visit. Then.... all of a sudden... the Tsachila man and Rosa left! We were alone....
After about 3 hours we moved outside in search of relief from the encroaching heat that was rising inside the church. Rosa shared that only a few Tsachila Christians come to church now (about 10). Some walk over an hour to attend. "People from the outside came from other groups 'to help us' and there was division in our church. Some left to help these groups begin their new work, others just stopped coming." Rosa looked off in the distance and was quiet.
Lorenzo thought that perhaps one of the reasons other Tsachila believers did not show up, was that our group was perceived as another threat to the church. I also began to wonder about the communication between the two indigenous groups that arranged our meeting.
The Quichuas sat quiet for a moment, then one simply said, "we will have to try again." Another said, "we can bring food, everyone comes when there is food!" Various ideas of how to continue were shared. They decided to finish out the day by attempting to visit some Tsachila homes nearby. I was encouraged, and started to join them when Lorenzo pulled me aside and said, "Hermano David, perhaps we might be better received if we tried to make this visit without the presence of a North American. I got the message, they wanted to "lose the white face" to minimize suspicion. I smiled to myself, they were beginning to think like indigenous missionaries!
While we did not make the contact we had hoped in this visit, we were able to deepen our relationship with Rosa, and our Quichua partners and had a good opportunity to grapple with some of the realities and complexities missionaries face when trying to share the gospel in another culture. Please continue to pray for our efforts to reach the Tsachila through the Quichua as part of our program of Discipleship Training.
Thank you to those who fasted and prayed with us last Wed 2/8. Please continue to pray as we press on. For the road to the gospel is not one without opposition.