Ecuador has been identified by the One Latin America (1LA) team as a promising country for the Academia Cristo church multiplication effort. Academia Cristo is a Spanish-language website that offers video and audio Bible studies and live online training to reach out to non-Christians as well as to teach Latin American church members how to share their faith. To take advantage of the doors the Lord is opening, two 1LA missionaries relocated to Ecuador in 2018 – Nathan Schulte from Mexico, and Philip Strackbein from Bolivia. This will be the first time WELS will have an active mission presence in this South American country.
One of the main contributing factors to the decision was the large number of Facebook users in Ecuador who follow Academia Cristo online—more than 60,000. This location in Ecuador also puts the missionaries closer to other countries in South America where WELS can’t permanently locate a missionary for safety or political reasons but where interest in the gospel message has been demonstrated through active use of the Academia Cristo website. A third reason is, while WELS has never officially had a mission in Ecuador, a Martin Luther College Spanish Professor has been taking groups of students there for years to teach English, and, through that work, valuable connections have already been made.
The missionaries’ first priorities will be finding a location for a Christian training center and doing boots-on-the-ground work—meeting their neighbors and learning more about the community.
WELS Mission Journeys, the new WELS program for short-term mission trips, sent two of the program’s pilot groups to Ecuador to assist Missionary Nathan Schulte in hosting introduction workshops open to the Quito community. To hear more about their trips and learn more about the Mission Journeys program, visit wels.net/missionjourneys.