Training Pastors in the Andes

High in the Andes Mountains in Ecuador live the Quechua (pronounced “ketch-oo-wah”), a people descended from the Incas. Many Quechua continue to observe Inca traditions in the food they eat, their dialect, and their moral codes. Community is very important.

In the Quechua community, a group of churches banded together in the 1990s to give solidarity to the evangelical movement. At first these Christians united to support one another through persecution; now they are focused on education and pastor training.

Rev. Guillermo Serrano, Back to God Ministries International’s Spanish leader, traveled with his media team to Guamote, Ecuador, this summer to lead a pastor training workshop.

Rob and Betty Wood, CRWRC staff members in Quito, Ecuador, helped to organize the workshop. The Woods work with Partners Worldwide and with local community leaders to improve the economic situation and strengthen the education system among the Quechua.

“We have a small radio transmitter here and people are familiar with Rev. Serrano’s radio program ‘La Hora de la Reforma,’” noted Rob Wood. “When I met Rev. Serrano at a training conference in El Salvador, I asked him if he would help train the Quechua pastors.”

“It was a challenge,” said Serrano, who has presented six pastor training workshops in Latin America since 2004. “The unfamiliar language and different culture challenged us to restructure our workshop.”

Jorge Flores Zapata, BTGMI’s Spanish regional follow-up coordinator, added, “It was more than just coming together to teach the people. It was important for us to learn from them in the context of their culture. The fellowship and participation gave us a sense of community and encouraged us.”

Rev. Rick Ayala, who frequently joins the BTGMI team as a workshop leader, praised Betty Wood’s work in Ecuador. “Betty . . . has dedicated her life to strengthening the faith of the indigenous people of Ecuador, mainly those who speak Quechua,” he said. “She respects the culture and the customs of the people.”

Ayala reported that many people journeyed great distances crowded in the beds of old pickup trucks and dealing with rain and bad roads to attend the conference. “Nobody wants to come to this remote region,” one pastor told Ayala. “We feel so honored with the visit of the ‘La Hora’ team.”

About the Author

Nancy Vander Meer is a staff writer with Back to God Ministries International in Grand Rapids, Mich.