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Cows, sheep & pigs help their outreach

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year’s Week of Prayer for International Missions, Nov. 30-Dec. 7, focuses on missionaries who serve in South America as well as churches partnering with them, exemplifying the global outreach supported by Southern Baptists’ gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This year’s theme is “GO TELL the story of Jesus”; the national offering goal is $170 million.

LA RINCONADA, Ecuador (BP)–Over faded blue jeans, Darrell Musick snaps up his tan leather chaps, tucking a red cloth into his belt.

He opens the tailgate of his Chevy truck, beginning a routine he follows 40 times a year.

Cows, sheep and pigs head for his makeshift clinic, being guided by frayed rope or a handy stick down the dirt path. Reaching for his first patient, Darrell quickly tags the ear and injects pesticide in the neck of a squealing, black hog.

The agricultural specialist isn’t back home on a New Mexico ranch. He’s serving the Quichua people of Ecuador at 12,000 feet in the Andes Mountains.

The Musicks hail from New Mexico -– Darrell from Jackson Avenue Baptist Church in Lovington and Rogene from First Baptist Church in San Jon. Arriving in northern Ecuador in March 2004, Rogene and Darrell have become known as “Ginny and Ray.”

“It took a year and a half for them to entrust us with their animals, but immediately they’d entrust their eternal life [to the Savior we presented],” Darrell says. “Those animals are their bank account.”

Through guinea pig projects, pastureland advice and livestock care, the Musicks are training faithful Quichua to carry on the work -– both in the fields and in the Quichuas’ hearts.

A primary way the Musicks and local believers from two existing Baptist churches open new doors for Bible studies is by organizing Ag Days, one-day animal clinics. For five to nine hours straight, the couple and nationals tag, deworm and administer parasite medicine to livestock before a crowd of onlookers. Rogene records each treatment in a notebook strung around her neck, later transferring the information to a computer to track each animal’s progress by its colored ear tag, such as “770 orange.”

Agricultural lessons can easily bridge to the spiritual as sickly, cooped-up guinea pigs provide an object lesson on needing light to thrive, and ear tags symbolize God’s care and concern for individuals.

“When they say, ‘Why do you use ear tags?’ we say, ‘We write the number of the calf in our book of what’s going on. In the same way, God has a special book for those who have accepted Christ,'” Rogene says.

Southern Baptists play a vital role in teaching these eternal lessons to the Quichua, such as First Baptist Church in Troy, Ala., where members donate money for the animal treatment equipment to supplement what the Musicks’ ministry receives through the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund. A member of First Baptist Church in Boise, Okla., bequeathed funds to help buy equipment for a Quichua radio outreach, and the church continues to support the ministry through prayer. And the Musicks are supported collectively through churches’ giving through Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program and through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

Through such combined efforts, approximately 40 new churches have been planted among the Quichua of northern Ecuador in two years.

“They ask, ‘Why would a North American come? Why would somebody from another community care enough about us to work with our animals?'” Rogene says. “We say, ‘We care about your crops. We care about your kids. And we care about your relationship with God.’ And that’s the crack in the door.”
Dea Davidson is a writer for the International Mission Board. To learn more about how volunteers can help South America’s Quichua reach fellow Quichua for Christ, visit samregion.org. See going.imb.org for general volunteer opportunities. Gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering can be made at www.imb.org/offering to support the International Mission Board’s more than 5,300 missionaries worldwide, including Darrell and Rogene Musick in Ecuador.

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  • Dea Davidson