In 2017, Ecuador has been identified by the Latin America missions team as a promising country for new mission efforts focused on training Ecuadorians to share the gospel with others. To take advantage of the doors the Lord is opening, two Latin America missionaries relocated to Quito, Ecuador, in 2018– Nathan Schulte from Mexico, and Philip Strackbein and his wife Kathy from Bolivia.
One of the main contributing factors to the decision was the large number of Facebook users in Ecuador who follow Academia Cristo online. A large majority of those who attend on-the-ground classes have been first contacted through the the Academia Cristo Facebook page. 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 online program.
A third reason is, while WELS has never officially had a mission in Ecuador, a Martin Luther College students and graduates regularly take Spanish classes and do internships in Quito and have been able to connect to mission work as well.
Our mission in Ecuador has recently been officially incorporated so that missionaries are able to legally remain in the country for an extended amounts of time. The mission team continues to teach classes in various parts of Quito as well as following up on contacts and opportunities in other areas of the country.