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Waggoner, Bethany


Ecuador

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How would you describe the mission of our partner in Ecuador?

FEDICE is a very hands-on organization that works hard to actively bring social justice and equity to Ecuador's indigenous and marginalized communities via economic empowerment, training in relevant and transferable skills, and community organizing. They also work primarily with women and have contributed to improvements in gender parity in partner communities.

How do you fit into their mission?

I'm helping FEDICE tell their story and bringing new ideas to the table to both deepen and grow their community, and expand their programmatic offering.

What led you to engage in this calling?

I was at a point in life where I was working too far from the impact zone. I felt compelled to make a change and be a doer rather than a talker.

Is there a passage of scripture that carries special meaning in your daily work?

James 2:14-26

What are some of the challenges facing the people of Ecuador, our partner, or yourself?

Many of Ecuador's indigenous and marginalized communities are stuck in cyclical and systemic poverty. They suffer regular injustice, inequality and residual discriminations from colonial times that manifest themselves today in the form of limited economic, political and educational opportunities. FEDICE has a fantastic model, but like most non-profits will always encounter more requests for engagement than are budgetarily possible. The hard part is prioritizing where funds go and saying no when a project can’t be done. 

What is a lesson you have learned from our partner that you feel should be shared with churches in the U.S.?

It's popular to believe we are "blessed" in the U.S., because many of us have nice things, a well-paying job we enjoy, a home we've put our special touch on, a degree from a solid university, a spouse we love (and got to choose), healthy kids, etc. Travelling to Ecuador's most vulnerable communities, I have realized that these are not blessings, but privileges. It would serve us well to better examine, define and understand the differences, because we all deserve to witness and experience God's love and blessings in our lives. 

The "American Dream" is not readily accessible for many people around the world for a complex and intertwined set of reasons — but believe me, there are 7 billion people out there trying to achieve it anyway and most of the time they are working harder and against greater odds than you and I can imagine. If we continue to believe that gaining material and privileges in our lives equates to God's expression of love for us, we set a dangerous precedent for continued prejudice between the world's people that undermines progress and global prosperity. Instead, I am challenging myself to keep coming back to simple and enduring words of the folk song, They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love (and not by how many "blessings" God has granted us). 

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Learn more through Bethany's blog Ms. Swaggner.

Find out more about our mission work in:

 Prayers and Mission Stories