Lectionary Selection: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
Prayers for Ecuador:
In Ecuador, we regularly come across situations that challenge our sense of justice. One day it's an indigenous woman and grandmother with liver failure struggling to care for four orphaned grandsons. Another time it’s a rural community that feels helpless to keep their families healthy without access to local, affordable care. These are times we feel moved to seek solutions beyond our regular programs and despite limited resources and staff.
After completing two of his most famous miracles — The Feeding of the 5,000 and Walking on Water — Jesus did something else which motivates us at the Ecumenical Foundation for Integral Development Training and Education (FEDICE) on a daily basis. At the end of both stories, we know Jesus had already performed his miracles. He was ready to rest and call it a day. But instead, he recognized the needs of the people, put his own aside for a bit longer and changed course.
He continued to teach. He went and healed.
Jesus acted in the spur of the moment because of his compassion for God’s people. He understood the long-term impact he could make in those two moments was greater than his current need for rest and refreshment.
The good news? Unlike feeding thousands with a single portion or walking on water, we all have this ability to engage in critical presence — where we meet God’s people and creation at the point of deepest need. How empowering to know God gave each and every 7.3 billion of us the tools to play a role in advancing justice and peace!
So, let us pray for vision and the conviction to act. Let us pray for the courage to overcome the feeling of helplessness and continue working in the face of adversity. Let us give ourselves permission to change the game plan in order to meet a need and build the world we seek to live in.
Mission Stewardship Moment from Ecuador:
About a year ago, we went to a partner community called Pijal to check in with the Savings & Credit Union FEDICE supports there and give a training on best practices for accounting for our partners. Pijal is a rural village, beautifully situated near Lago San Pablo and the majestic Mt. Imbabura. FEDICE has several projects in Pijal and the community is an example of what can happen when people are empowered with opportunity and the tools to capitalize on it.
The people who live in Pijal are the hardest workers I’ve ever met. They are always working on some project to get ahead or improve the community. Local Pastor, Luis Chicaiza, wakes early to get the chores on his land done before heading into town to work a full day as a teacher. On the bus ride home, he’s usually on the phone, making plans and getting updates about projects. When he gets back to Pijal, we often find him working into the darkness with fellow community members on a project to upgrade the church or help a local family out. I’ve personally participated with him in mingas (community work days) the day after Christmas and New Year’s Day.
On this particular visit, we asked the group of 20 women and four men if they had determined who in the community should be the recipient of an educational scholarship FEDICE had put together. They told us they had discussed the possibilities and decided the scholarship should go to a grandmother named Margarita struggling to raise her four orphaned grandsons in the next village over. The children's mother had died during childbirth and the father had been hit by a car coming home from work one night. Margarita herself was suffering from liver failure and was unable to earn enough income to adequately provide for the kids. They lived in a dilapidated cottage with seven people stuffed into two rooms, an outdoor kitchen and no running water or proper bathroom.
Now, the people in Pijal are not rich from an economic standpoint. Families there have to work tirelessly to make enough income to feed, shelter and educate their own kids. And, there are families in Pijal in extraordinary need as well. But what they lack in financial resources, they make up for in solidarity and work ethic. When one of their own is in need they gather around that person or family and find a way to get through.
A year ago, Margarita didn’t have anyone to gather around her. She was isolated and depressed. Though she had cousins living on either side of her, the family rarely offered assistance or moral support. So, like Jesus, the people of Pijal decided they would put aside their own need and respond with compassion to hers. They asked FEDICE to transfer the scholarship opportunity to Margarita and began a chain of events that will likely forever transform the lives of her family.
What started as a scholarship for the four boys — Anderson (16), Malquien (12), Johan (10) and Luis Santiago (7) — has turned into a full-scale service project supported by the community of Pijal, FEDICE and a local soccer team to re-establish a dignified quality of life for Margarita and her grandsons. In addition to the scholarships, we have pooled resources and volunteer labor together to build them a new four-room home complete with a hot water shower, indoor kitchen and proper bathroom facilities. Later this summer, we will construct pens and provide assistance for purchasing chickens and cuyes, so that Margarita has a regular source of income beyond selling beans and jello on market days.
A year ago, I doubt the community of Pijal or Margarita could have imagined that the selfless act of sharing a resource would catalyze the string of solutions in play today. The generosity of this community, in light of their own struggles to achieve financial security, is a powerful example of how compassion can help us create justice for God’s people.
Witnessing and participating in such a strong commitment to enacting justice in the world makes being at FEDICE and working with its partners exciting and inspiring in equal measure. For myself and the rest of the team here, these stories are regular reminders to be on the look out for opportunities to be doers, and to act on our compassion rather than simply feel it as we pass by on our way to do other things.
(Prayer and Mission Moment by Bethany Waggoner)
Mission Partners in Ecuador:
- Fundacion Ecumenica Para el Desarrollo Integral Capacitacion-Education (FEDICE)
- Iglesia Evangelica Unida del Ecuador (IEUE)
More information on Ecuador: http://www.globalministries.org/ecuador
Global Ministries Missionary in Ecuador:
Bethany Waggoner serves with the Ecumenical Foundation for Integral Development Training and Education (FEDICE) in Ecuador. Her appointment is supported by Week of Compasssion, Our Churches Wider Mission, Disciples Mission Fund and your special gifts.