Changing Lives at the Beach of Esmeraldas

On my recent mission trip in December 2018, we crossed the Andes to go to Esmeraldas which is a coastal city in the northwestern part of Ecuador. We had a day off, so we went to a breakfast restaurant at the beach, and as I saw the water, I thought to myself, “today we should go fishing”. As I look up, a guy walks in, and I ask him if he knows somebody who would take us out on the ocean, and 30 minutes later we were already ready to go fishing in the Pacific Ocean.

I live what you can call a “predestined lifestyle”, I believe that my steps are ordained by God, that “we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good deeds that we should walk in” (Ephesians 2.10).

We went through the waves across the reef and cast out the lines in more calm water, waiting for the fishes to bite. It was an awesome experience. We spend the whole day fishing, and when we came back in the evening, I asked the fishermen if they could prepare a fire so we could BBQ the fishes on the beach. I paid for the party and the fishermen brought their families, and right there, as we were eating, we had the opportunity to share the gospel and lead the fishermen to Christ.

Revival Among the Fishermen

We had revival, right there on the beach. What we experienced there was more authentic than a regular church meeting, it was so beautiful to see these men receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, and the same night we prayed with them to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”, so that was what we did, right there with the fishermen on the beach.

I will never forget these fishermen and their stories. As we were sitting around the fire, we were connected in a special way. Even after we left, I kept praying for these people. One of the men had seven kids, his wife had left him, and he was the sole provider of his family. They were very poor, they were trying hard to make a living, but they did not have the resources. They needed a bigger boat in order to get a bigger catch out on the deep ocean, they paddled in a canoe so they could not cross the reef and take them to the deep waters where we had been fishing during the day.

Two New Boats Can Change the Lives of Many

I want to start a project in Esmeraldas, right there on the beach. I believe this connection was God-given, and I already have talked to one of my attorney friends in Ecuador to set up a fishing consortium so we can invest in this community and buy bigger boats.

Where I go, I will bring the gospel. Luke 4.18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.

What is good news to the poor? Is it not that they shall not be poor anymore? Let us preach the gospel, not only in Words but also in action. Our little can help a lot. For 6,000 dollars we can buy two boats and two engines for the fishermen in Esmeraldas. Several families can fish on each boat, with fish comes money and school for the kids and even more open hearts for Christ.

Your Kingdom Come!

I want to see the Kingdom of God manifested on that beach in Esmeralda, Equador. I remember many years ago when I first brought the gospel to the Eskimos in North West Greenland, immediately after having received Christ they started to catch more fish and animals and they were so successful in hunting together that more hunters started to ask if they could go out hunting with them. That village is still developing til this day. I believe the same thing can happen on the beaches of Esmeralda. If you want to partner with us in this project, click on this link. May God bless you for your prayers and support! https://evangelistministries.international/contact/donations/

In Memory of “Come Clean”

“Come Clean” was the street name of this man who died a few days ago behind a garbage dumpster alone, just across the street from Powerhouse Church. This is the picture of his memorial. A photo, a few plastic flowers, some candles, two booklets, and a white teddy bear on the spot where he was found.

“Come Clean” was one of the homeless people in our community. He used to come to our church all the time, for Community Day or during the Wednesday Dinner. Now we won’t see him anymore. He is no longer around. It is really sad. I talked to him last month and now he is gone.

I went to see his memorial yesterday together with one of his friends, and as we were going down the street, we did a Facebook live recording to give you an impression of what kind of area we are in. We are in a dark place, and God has put us here to shine his light!

In a few days “Come Clean” will be forgotten and another memorial will be raised for somebody else on the trail. Orange Blossom Trail, OBT, devours people and destroys families, only Jesus Christ is the answer.

Do you realize that all these people dying for nothing were kids once? Think about it, they were playing around, going to school, and they all had dreams – until some adult stole it away from them, they were abused before they started using, and as they grew up they suffered the consequences of iniquity and sin.

His Last Message on Video

One of the young guys from our church made a video with “Come Clean” recently. At this point, he thought he still had plenty of time left on this earth. He was free of cocaine, but not free of alcohol. This is what he said, not knowing that this would be his last message to us on OBT https://www.facebook.com/C.Hedegaard/videos/10217329688412424/

Are you ready to meet your Maker? Only one thing is sure in life and that is that we all will be leaving at one point. I wish we all be ready. I know where I am going. I have dedicated my life to give and to live a life worth dying for. I want to live life to the fullest, with Christ, in obedience to Him, as if each day was the last.

This is the live video that I made from the memorial of “Come Clean” https://www.facebook.com/C.Hedegaard/videos/10217326384969840/

“Come Clean” was a beautiful man, and I hope that one day I will see him again. In Powerhouse Church he is not forgotten. “Come clean, or don’t come at all”, that is what he used to say. God knows his heart, He knows every outspoken prayer, He even knows his last words and how he died …

Don’t You Ever Give Up Hope

This Christmas it has been seven years since we first came to America and started feeding the homeless people on Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, Florida. Every Wednesday and Sunday after church, but also a lot in between. Even before the church was established, our family has served tens of thousands of people, and if somebody asks me if it has been worth it, I will always say “yes”.

Honestly, I don’t think about it, I just do it. If I start to think too deeply about what we are doing I might start to lose courage. Orange Blossom Trail needs a lot of change, and we all know that it’s not the food, that will change the community. It is Jesus Christ. My focus is so strong on Jesus Christ and the vision that I refuse to look back and faith in him keeps me alive and strong in all the daily problems.

I have many pastor friends now in America and sometimes I have to pinch myself in the arm when I hear about their problems, how I wish I sometimes could swab problems with them. Just last week alone, two of the people that come to our church regularly have died out in the street, but still, I am convinced that I am graced to do this job.

There is a Reason, Pastor!

Let me give you three fresh testimonies that kept me going this past week:

In our church we have this homeless man that I have fed for seven years, he always sticks to himself, he has a long beard and white wild hair, and not so long ago he told me why. “There is a reason, pastor. I want people to think that I am crazy so that they will stay away from me”, he explained. “I am not crazy, but I am so hurt by people, I just want to sit on an island alone and die”, he said. This man has been expelled many times because he has been drunk and aggressive, but last year he detoxed himself off one bottle of vodka a day and has been sober for a long time. Now he has decided to follow Jesus, and Sunday he was in our service for the first time ever and got baptized in front of everybody. Even I was astonished to see him take that turn. For many years it seemed like nothing was happening but now, all of a sudden, he is changing big time.

My Other Sheep

One of my other “sheep” have been coming to our Community Cafe for a long time. They are always around, and they are always high and drunk. They live in a different world of substance abuse and we have had many problems with one of them in particular. No matter what I say, they will never listen, so I must admit that I kind of wrote them off, still knowing that “nothing is impossible with God”.

This week I saw the impossible. I was outside the Community Cafe talking to one of the guys, and when I came into the building everybody was real quiet. I had to look twice when I saw my “case impossible” speak in front of everybody. “So many people have died out here, but this church has saved my life”, he said. “This is our street, and we must stand together to change our community. We can do it. If they could change me, you can change as well. But it takes faith in God and faith in the church”, he said.

I was stunned. This man has threatened me and my family and my volunteers over and over again. Recently we gave him the “last chance”, he has been asked to leave the facility several times, but now I am happy that we had faith, patience, and longsuffering enough to love him through. Now he is pulling people into the church.

We Saved his Life …

My last “case impossible” is a young man that I don’t remember “not high”. A few months ago he told me that he was starting in school, A young man that I do not remember “not high” on drugs told me a few months ago that he was starting to go to school. I took the time to talk to him but it looked like the word was just going in through one ear and out of the other. I also prayed with him, and next time I saw him around he was sitting down, talking to another young drug addict about Jesus Christ. “You know me from the streets”, he said, “but I have changed, ever since pastor prayed for me and I started listening to him, my life has changed. I am going back to school. This pastor saved my life!” he said.

I almost fell off my chair, I had not seen that one coming and I realized right there that our word is like a living seed. We must preach whether people like it or not. We must not stop speaking about Jesus Christ. The word is alive and has mighty power to save.

When I came home Friday I was still in awe. Two of the most impossible cases were testifying in front of other people that I had saved their lives and I did not even know it. The third “impossible” guy was baptized on his first Sunday in church. Wauv, I never get tired of serving Jesus Christ.

Happy New Years from all of us here in Orlando. We walk by faith, not by sight. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Don’t ever give up hope!