A little church grows

A few years ago, in Loja, I started attending Iglesia Cristiana Semilla de Mostaza (Christian Church of the Mustard Seed) which has trained up church planters to go out into the smaller villages. We would have morning church at SDM then afternoon ministry in the various towns.

I joined with Pastor Saul Guitierrez and his wife Elena, who were planting a new church in the small community of Obrapia, strategically placed because there were no known evangelical groups here. 

When I joined, often the only people in attendance would be the pastor’s family, a mother named Tanya with her two kids, and myself. At times other people would come. 

I could see that ministry in this local town was not easy, to say the least. However, Pastor Saul has been faithful to preaching the gospel over these years. Then after three years of renting a space for our church gatherings, the landlord gave notice that he was going to increase the rent (which we couldn’t afford).  

Every attempt to find an alternative site was rejected because we were an evangelical church. But as the bible says, God will build his church. A woman coming to the church lived locally, and offered us the use of her garage. We accepted. Pastor Saul, being a carpenter was able to put doors and gates up to make the area safer and to add protection from sand and dirt.

For the next three years, church services were held in the garage. We started a kid’s club programme with the assistance of Samaritan’s Purse ministry. This helped to make our presence in the community known as we planted the seeds of God’s Word in the children. Church service attendance remained small, but pastor Saul continued to preach the word of God in season and out. 

One day the house owner shared the news that she wanted to build an extension on the top of her house and possibly rent one of two areas to our church. So that is what happened the church rented one of the upstairs spaces.

Coinciding with this, the Covid pandemic took off around the world, but God continued building his church here in Obrapia. In the midst of lockdowns, we partnered with SIM to provide food parcels to support our local community. A neighbour started to attend and invited an older couple who lived in another community to come as well. Later, the rest of her family started to attend and someone from a neighbouring community started coming with two adult children. This group of people have become our stalwarts, they have been faithful to attend every meeting from the first day they arrived.

But things always change.  Earlier this year, the owner of the house had to move to another area of Loja and if one day she decides to sell this house, we have begun planning for the future. The church owns a very small strip of land in this community and is seeking to put down roots here. We have started fundraising events to one day build a permanent church home. 

One of our fundraisers is to sell food at the local parks. A family from church used to own a restaurant and they still have all of the equipment. So at the local park, we set up a pop-up restaurant with tables, chairs, and white tablecloths, etc. People can come and sit down, and order from the menu. So far, we have had a good response with the community coming to buy our food. 

Please pray for God to continue building this church and to provide the funds needed to build a facility in which we can gather to proclaim God’s truth.

— Darnelle Richardson, Ecuador