I continue to find informal times even more productive than the formal ones. Friday, in "Shobol Llin Llin," as Faby met with the single mothers to continue the discipleship process, I found myself talking with some of the men. They were supposed to have a formal leaders' meeting, but since the two principal leaders couldn't come, this meeting wasn't "formal." Yet we discussed the church's legal papers, the recent protests, activities in the church, their families, etc. Couldn't have planned a discipleship meeting any better!

(Previous meeting click here.)


Saturday, in "Capulispungo" the pastor, Antonio, invited some local pastors, not to a conference, but to come for a time of sharing. Not many came, but those of us present shared our experiences as pastors. The goal is to have fellowship, because many pastors feel lonely. (Just a note: one pastor couldn't come because the church was hosting a funeral. Another couldn't make it, because the community was having yearly elections, and if you're not present, you receive a $50 fine! That's the way communities work.)


Sunday, we visited "Cachisagua." Just to see how things were going. They had decided the night before to celebrate "Pastor's Day." So when we arrived they were preparing chickens for lunch. (Note: I learned from a conversation that the community was about to hold a trial for a man in adultery. The trial has a formal process, with local authorities and lawyers, but the process includes a beating with nettles, then a bath in cold water. In Ecuador they call it, "Indian Justice.")


Should a Christian Protest?


So what do you say to your Christian indigenous friends when their whole community joins the national strike? Should they participate?


Romans 13:1-7 God has established civil authorities and we should submit to their authority. Yet in a democracy, protesting is not only a civil right, but a civil responsibility. If we disagree with a law, we should make our opinion known, and protest.
Yet when a protest turns violent, what should we do?
The government’s responsibility is to punish wrongdoers. Romans 13:3-4
If protestors are damaging property and infringing on other’s rights, such as blocking roads and cutting off food supplies, the government’s responsibility is to punish such persons.

1 Timothy 2:1-7 The church’s responsibility is to pray for the civil authorities so that we can live in peace and security. Implicit here is the government’s responsibility to maintain peace and order. If protests turn violent, the government has to step in and restore order. The church’s responsibility is to proclaim Christ Jesus as a ransom for all men. The government maintains order. The church, through Jesus Christ, transforms persons.


In Jesus’ day, the Romans governed over the Jews. Many Jews wanted to overthrow the Romans and establish a Jewish government. They expected the Messiah to re-establish David’s kingdom, as the prophets predicted, by leading a rebellion against the Roman government.

Matthew 26:52-55
When Jesus was arrested, his disciples expected him to fight and resist. He could have, and he would have won, but God’s plan, in the Scriptures, was different. Overthrowing the present government was not God’s plan. Jesus stated that violence provokes violence. Violence and civil rebellion are not God’s plan.

Juan 18:36
Jesus came to install a new government, but not a worldly one. If so, he and his disciples would have fought. But his government is a spiritual one.

Juan 19:11
Jesus knew that all civil authorities have to give account to God. God puts them in office and removes them from office as He so chooses. We submit to authorities, because we know that God is in control over them.

Luke 17:21
Jesus’ government is spiritual. Where He controls a person’s heart and mind, He governs. The civil authorities govern by laws and force. Jesus governs winning over a person’s will.

Thus, to my friends:
If you need to protest, do so. If the protest turns violent, separate from those protestors. But remember that God’s solution to our problems is not to change the government, but to change human hearts.

Turmoil in Ecuador


My summary of the recent events:
The previous president put the country into huge debt. The new president had to find international loans to keep the country afloat. The International Monetary Fund required certain economic measures, one of them being to cancel gasoline subsides. When the president decreed the new economic measures, the price of gasoline went from $1.85 to $2.30 and the price of diesel went from $1.03 to $2.30. The first two days the taxi drivers and bus drivers went on strike but reached an agreement with the president the second day and ended the strike. But the indigenous population declared a national protest which included blocking all the roads in the country and marching to Quito to protest. The protests in Quito turned into skirmishes with the police, vandalism, violence, and property damage. It became obvious that among the protesters were professional terrorists who had a carefully planned and coordinated strategy for overthrowing the government. (They burned police stations, the national court house, and a TV station. They attacked military bases, and cut off water supplies.) To end the protests, the president and the indigenous leaders reached a temporary agreement, mediated by the United Nations. The Ecuadorian economy lost millions of dollars as a result of the protests which shut down the country for over a week. Everybody lost. This protest had no winners. The mediators have two days to reach a permanent agreement.



The plan on Saturday was to visit the single mothers in "Shobol Llin Llin." The bus strike was over, but we didn't realize the indigenous communities had a different agenda: block the roads. So a normal trip of 20 minutes each way took us 4 hours of looking for side roads, moving stones and trees, discussing with protestors to let us pass, and being patient until we could finally return home. Never did make it to "Shobol."


Then, at the end of the day, the church leaders from "Shobol Llin Llin" called us and asked to meet with us. They actually live in Riobamba, and they couldn't make it to their community for church meetings, because of the protests. So we ended up with a meeting at our apartment. After reviewing our experiences with the protests, we discussed future plans for the church, which included the need for a Sunday school teacher for 13-15 year olds, workshops on finance administration, and a new pastor. We appreciate their confidence in us and how God is working in their lives.