Ecuador woman’s passion for children’s discipleship impacts community
Thu, 08/18/2022 – 21:39
Keren Chuiza’s passion for children’s discipleship rubbed off on others and has helped expand the ministry in Cuenca, Ecuador.
In 2013, Chuiza, the discipleship coordinator for the Costa District, felt the Lord was calling her to disciple others. She learned about a group of children who wanted to attend church but couldn’t because the church was far away. One day, a friend challenged her to go where the kids lived and minister to them on the street rather than waiting for them to come to the church building.
“We knew one of the kids in that community who was 8 years old,” Chuiza said. “He invited his friends, so we had six kids at the first meeting. The next meeting, those six invited others, and we had a total of 15 kids.”
In 2019, Chuiza launched a challenge to the whole district to be more intentional in reaching out to children. Many stepped up, including Jessenia Albán, who started attending the Church of the Nazarene when she was 7 and has enjoyed working with kids since.
Albán and others began the work in La feria libre, one of the largest marketplaces in Cuenca. They gather every Saturday because Sundays are busy days in the market. Most of the children in that area are immigrants from Venezuela. Some have to work selling goods in the marketplace to help their families generate income.
The first discipleship event took place in February 2019 with 11 kids. The church leaders approached the neighborhood president and asked if they could gather in a community open space to play games and share the gospel with the kids. The group continued to grow even more.
Chuiza appreciates the work of many volunteers like Albán who are carrying out the discipleship ministry among the children, especially those living in marginalized areas. One of the challenges churches face in Cuenca is the high price of real estate.
That hasn’t stopped Chuiza and her volunteers, who have opted to use tents in open spaces to carry out their activities when it rains or gets too hot. Over the years, many children have been impacted by the discipleship efforts of Chuiza and Albán. One of those kids was Mariana*, age 15.
When Albán asked Mariana why she had come to the children’s activity, she said she heard some music and saw many children, which sparked her curiosity. That day, Mariana received an evangelistic pamphlet, which she took home.
She and her cousin have returned every week since. As a result, Mariana and her whole family have received Christ and are growing in their faith.
One day, Albán was praying for the Lord to provide someone to help her set up for the kids’ activities. Not long after, Mariana came and asked if she could be a volunteer.
“She approached me and asked if she could help me prepare food, put up decorations, or work on other arrangements,” Albán said. “Thanks to our relationship with Mariana, we can disciple her mom and aunt every week.”