Updated: Feb 3
If you want to get back to nature, consider Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve in Sucumbíos, Ecuador as your destination spot. Because of its location at the foothills of the Andes, it is different from any other Amazon protected area in the world. You can find tapirs, jaguars, pumas, capybaras, manatees, giant otters, two species of dolphin, 10 species of monkeys, over 530 bird species, 350 fish species, 307 tree species, and every so often, one Sunday School teacher.
Meet Diana Mendieta, a commercial engineer, small business owner, Sunday School teacher, and very happy mom to a beautiful one-and-a-half-year-old little girl. She has been happily married to her husband, Estuardo Luna, for 13 years. Both Diana and Estuardo serve at Christian Restoration Church, a church they helped start in Sucumbíos, Ecuador.
“Since my adolescence,” Diana explains, “I have had the opportunity to work in Sunday School. My love for children and the importance that they know the truth [about Jesus] has brought me to be coordinator of the Sunday School at our church. On Sundays, we average around 60 boys and girls.”
Before you book your tickets to visit Diana and see the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, however, you’ll need to take into consideration that, tragically, Ecuador ranks as the “least safe” country in Latin America. This is a very dramatic shift from just five years ago when Ecuador ranked as one of Latin America’s safest countries. Overwhelmed by cocaine trafficking from Colombia and Peru (Ecuador is in the middle), drug-related crimes and violence have slammed into Ecuador and crime has soared to the point where two out of three Ecuadorians do not feel safe walking their own streets.
“The place where we live,” Diana explains, “is a middle-income area. However, there is a lot of delinquency, thefts, and now terrible hired killings.”
Knowing that only Jesus can truly bring peace and joy and meaning to one’s life, Diana explains her vision for her community. “I signed up for LOGOI’s Bible teacher certificate course because I want to start a ‘Center for Bible Studies’ at our church. There is a spiritual hunger here, but there is no place where one can be trained professionally to serve in the work of God.”
It’s hard to not joyfully consider how LOGOI’s calling to “Equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12) fits exactly into what Diana hopes to accomplish. Few of us would want to take our family and move to Ecuador as missionaries in these troubled times. But there right now today are Diana and Estuardo and the very apply named Christian Restoration Church, working to proclaim the Gospel and build up the body of Christ in their community.
Would you take a moment right now and pray for Diana, her husband, Estuardo, and their little girl? Pray for God’s protection as they walk their streets and that Diana’s dream of starting a Bible Study Center will be realized. Then, in Diana’s words, “Pray the Lord will awaken the desire for all who attend our church to learn from His Word and know Him more.” May that be our prayer, too.
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