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2,000 salvations result from El Nino in Ecuador

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador (BP)–The rain wouldn’t stop and the flood waters rose, forcing thousands of people from their homes. It doesn’t sound much like a prime evangelism opportunity, but more than 2,000 people accepted Christ during a two-week period earlier this year as a result of flooding caused by El Nino storms.
Linda and Guy Muse of Texas, Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries to Ecuador, have safely weathered more than 50 inches of rain in the past five months — well above Ecuador’s annual average of 43 inches.
Guy Muse helped coordinate a ministry to other Ecuadorians who did not fare as well. Sprawling slums have been built in areas vulnerable to widespread flooding and mudslides, which displaced an estimated 20,000 people and killed 222. Thousands of others stuck with their meager possessions despite rising water.
“If they leave their homes, they will be looted,” Muse said. “Many in the poor areas stay. The flooding presents an entirely different set of problems than they normally face. The water is contaminated, and it presents some serious health issues.”
Health needs prompted a volunteer team of medical professionals from the United States to spend two weeks in Guayaquil seeing more than 5,000 patients from all parts of the country. More than 2,000 accepted Christ as Savior.
“Some people stood in line for 24 to 48 hours to receive medical attention,” Muse said. “We counseled with every one of them and shared the gospel with everyone that came through. Their physical need made them very aware of their spiritual need.”
Muse works with TeleAmigo, a Baptist telephone ministry that uses free in-person counseling and prayer as primary tools for evangelism. The organization is five years old and makes about 13,000 contacts per month. As part of the medical mission, TeleAmigo was asked to do exit counseling after patients were seen by doctors.
“It was incredible,” Muse said. “It is the only place where we could have had that many people come to us. So many of them have such great need. The great thing is that as a result of this, the gospel will literally go out all across the country.”
TeleAmigo has 70 volunteers who are trained in counseling. As people accept Christ as Savior, they are encouraged to join a TeleAmigo discipleship group.
“Our goal is to start new churches out of the discipleship groups,” Muse said. “That’s the challenge ahead.”