Ecuador Missions Trip Offers Physical & Spiritual Healing to Nearly 2000

A team of people from Xenos is back from a medical missions trip to Ecuador, where, in conjunction with our global partner, Arco Church in Santa Rosa, they served nearly 2 thousand people--offering medical, dental, and vision care. Every person who visited the clinics also heard the gospel from one of the local home church members. As a result, 709 people prayed to receive Christ during the 4 days of the medical clinics.

While there, Xenos Missions Director Dave Glover says he, Jim Leffel, and Canco Cassasa from Xenos met with local home church leaders, hearing several stories of people who had come to Christ through a similar clinic 2 years ago, and who are now incorporated into these home churches.

Andrea Hesse served as a medical interpreter on the trip, and shares her experience:

I stared out the window at the lush, green countryside of southern Ecuador as our bus of 25 Xenos volunteers wound its way through endless rows of banana plantations. Our team had spent several months preparing for our trip to Santa Rosa, Ecuador where we would put on a week-long medical, dental, and optometry clinic. We had packed dozens of bags filled with medications and clinic supplies, practiced our Spanish, and spent time praying for our trip. Even with all this preparation I still felt a little unsure of what to expect as we traveled past fields of ripening fruit on our ride from the larger city of Guayaquil to Santa Rosa.

Ecuador is a beautiful and ecologically diverse country in the northern half of South America. The main languages spoken there are Spanish and Kichwa, an indigenous language coming from the Incan peoples. Just like the language, the culture and religion there is a mix of Spanish and indigenous roots.  Most of Ecuador is Catholic but people in smaller rural villages hold on to traditional beliefs and practices.  Our group of medical professionals, translators, support staff and church leaders from Xenos was going to partner with members of Arco City Church to serve the community of Santa Rosa.  Arco is an evangelical, home church based church committed to local church planting. Xenos has partnered with this group to support the spread of the gospel of grace within Ecuador.

Entering Santa Rosa, we drove directly to the church where we would set up our clinic. Some of the streets surrounding the church were paved but many were just a dirt path with half-finished buildings lining the street and mangy looking dogs loping along beside the cars and motorcycles. We dragged our bags through the dirt patio up to the doors of tiny church. It was hard to imagine how this room normally filled with plastic lawn chairs for church meetings would be transformed into a bustling clinic. 

We arrived early in the morning the next day to see hundreds of people lined up down the street to be seen at the clinic. Many had arrived hours before with their entire family and would wait hours more before being seen by a doctor.  A card table set up on the dirt and gravel front patio of the church served as our nurse’s station where I worked with our triage team to get patients’ vital signs.  Children of all ages zoomed around the lot playing and running up to the volunteers for a high five or a hug.  From my post at the nurses’ station, I got to watch the Arco volunteers greeting the community members and offering to pray with them or simply sit and listen to their life stories. It was so encouraging to see their smiling faces and to work alongside our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters in Christ during that week.

Xenos and Arco volunteers alike worked hard to see nearly 2,000 patients who came to receive medical attention. At times exhaustion, language barriers, or the acknowledgement that we could not help a patient with their problem threatened to bring down our spirits. The encounter described below is one example of how God lifted us up to continue his work. 

A middle-aged patient named Mariana came to our clinic with the hopes of repairing her dentures which were not correctly fitted and constantly slipped making it hard for her to chew. Translating for dentist Justin Kurtz, I told her that there was nothing we could do for her because we did not have the equipment with us to fix her dentures. Mariana opened up with me about the difficulties in her life

saying that she had been unable to work as she was needed at home to care for her handicapped mother and epileptic son. We cried together as she shared her confusion as to why God had allowed such suffering in her life. Finding myself at a loss for words and unsure how to comfort her, I offered that we pray together. We thanked God that he would never abandon Mariana and would continue to provide for her physical and spiritual needs. After giving her a hug, I walked her out of our makeshift dental clinic set up in the church’s main hall and encouraged her to reach out to one of the Arco church members who could provide fellowship and a listening ear. 

At the end of the clinic week, Arco held a big celebration to thank all the volunteers and welcome the patients seen at the clinic to hear a Bible teaching. And who was there but the friend I had made a few days earlier, Mariana! This night was truly a highlight for many of us as we enjoyed some traditional Ecuadorian music and dance and had fun with the fellow believers and community members. One of the local pastors, Hermes, gave a teaching on Jesus healing the blind man from John 9. He told the audience that, while many had come to receive medical care for physical illness, God wants to heal our spiritual sickness as well and his power is more that capable of accomplishing this act of grace.  

Mariana came up to me after the teaching to say that God had lifted her spirits through the kindness shown by the volunteers that week and said she wanted to get connected with the local church. That night reminded me that even when we feel helpless or incompetent to aid someone or to communicate

the gospel clearly that God is not restrained by lack of resources or differences in language. By his infinite power he makes his love and message of forgiveness known to all people.

Thousands of people that week heard the gospel and were offered the opportunity to pray with a local church member. It was such an encouragement to see the dedication of the Arco leaders and members to sharing God’s love in their community and to stepping out of their comfort zone to start churches in new places. 

We here in Xenos are blessed with an abundance of resources, both monetary and spiritual. The following verse reminds us that God calls us to use these blessings to be rich in good works, thus achieving the life that is truly life.

“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19