AMBATO, Ecuador (BP)–The sound of a church bell rang throughout the Quichua mountain village in Ecuador as Alfredo Chicaiza swung back and forth in the bell tower, announcing the arrival of International World Changers student volunteers.
“[Alfredo] is a natural helper,” missionary David Butts said. “He is quiet but consistent, and he and his wife have a deep spiritual understanding.”
This “simple but profound” faith has led Alfredo and Petrona Chicaiza to become national church planters. Graduates of the International Bible League, the Quichua duo teaches weekly Bible studies to dozens of people in their homes using a simple interactive teaching guide.
An IWC trip was the catalyst that led Alfredo to become a believer. Nearly four years later, he welcomes IWC teams to Ambato, using their assistance to share the Gospel with vendors and shoppers in the market where Petrona sells vegetables to support their ministry. He also seeks Quichua farmers in higher mountain altitudes who often are overlooked in society.
“[IWC] encourages me right in the middle of the year,” Alfredo said. “It allows us to get out into new communities and talk with new people.”
Butts and other Southern Baptist missionaries in Ecuador host volunteer teams 14 to 18 weeks a year to foster friendships they can use to form new Bible studies and churches. In the past year, dozens of fledgling congregations have sprung up, with Ecuadorian believers taking the lead.
Without his own transportation, Alfredo arranges rides to villages, often paying $5 to $7 out of his own income. He is thankful for God’s provision and uses his time in these outlying villages to make contacts, build friendships and establish Bible studies.
“The Bible says we should make disciples in all the world,” he said. “We need to help those who don’t know the Word of God.”
Lydia DeGozo is a writer for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.