Due to local reports more and more people in the Amazon area in Ecuador are being infected with COVID-19, and it does not look like things are getting better. People are sick and dying, and the outreach team in from the church in Puyo is doing what they can to help.
Last month they were giving out care packages to families in the remote villages, and last week they started up a soup kitchen as an outreach in the church with funds from the USA. Healthy meals are being prepared to give out to the community. It is just a small operation, but it has a big effect when the volunteers drive out and serve the meals to go. Not only are they bringing food to people, they are bringing hope!
Franklin, a tourist guide from the area, and his wife Angela Sanches are spear heading the operation. The meals from the soup kitchen are being loaded into private cars, and now the meals on wheels are being brought out to people in the street. You see people with masks everywhere. Children, families and elderly people. You see the fear in their eyes and the smile that comes, when somebody cares for them and give them a bowl of soup.
There are so many needs out there because of the pandemic. We all know it, but imagine what it is like in places with limited medical ressources. The virus is real, and so is the lock down and the lack of financial support in third world countries. Reaching out in times of social distancing is essential. Nobody knows how long this will continue, so we will take one day at a time and continue to meet the needs of the people.
We believe that God will provide the needs as we continue to support the local community and feed the people in Puyo. Our team in Puyo is very accountable documenting every meal, every person and every penny spend on groceries. Pray for them as they go out there to love on people, they need our support!
During this month we have been busy collecting money for our friends in Puyo Ecuador who are suffering because of the COVID-19 lock down. So far we have send close to 8000 dollars to local church which has become a center of distribution of food to people who are suffering in the area. Almost every day they have been giving out bags of food (13 dollar value bags which can feed a family for two weeks) and so far they have reached close to 500 families, some of them in the most remote places where people don’t have any transportation or access to food.
Blessed To Be A Blessing
As people received help, they wanted to pay it forward, and we have seen how people have started to care for one another in a very practical way.
Franklin Sanchez who is one of the key persons in the distribution of food, working for pastor Carlos Marchan in Puyo, has send forward pictures of how his neighbors have joined forces to build a house for a deaf and dumb lady in the street. She was living alone in a shag with the rain pouring through the roof, together with four children, when the neigbors decided to “pay it forward”.
Over the past two weeks they have been building on “Biancas House”, and this week we received the pictures of the new house that Bianca and her four children can call home.
Only a few days after we launched the food bank in Ecuador, the work is spreading to more places. Pastor Carlos Marchan and his team in Puyo has been giving out essentials to the people in the city, but now they are planning a trip inside Jungle to one of the small communities.
The people living in the jungle are under the same lock down as the people in the city and they have nothing to eat. Usually they will travel to the city to buy food or trade for food, but because of the curfew they can’t make it that far. They live so remote, without lights and running water, and they don’t have any cars.
Over the past years we have been visiting the village several times. Usually we would travel out there in the morning, preach the gospel and share a meal with them. Some of you might remember the pictures, my sons tribal adventure when they painted us in the face and gave us chicha to drink as a part of their welcome tradition!
The White Shirt
Right now the team in Puyo is making care packages for the villages with rice, eggs and cooking oil and other things. The government gives out rations of five eggs and a little rice, but our team has been able to buy a lot of eggs so they are giving out packages of 30 eggs which is a huge blessing.
For the past two days our team have been giving out care packages in Puyo, and as they went out to the suburbs, they saw white shirts hanging outside the houses. This has become a common thing in Ecuador, people hanging out their shirts as a sign of surrender to show that they have no more food.
We Need Your Help
In Puyo pastor Carlos Marchan and his team sre loading the cars with care packages to drive out in the communities In just a few days, his church has become a food bank, a distribution center of essentials.
This has been possible through generous donations from our local church and from business people that we know. As the team in Ecuador has been sending pictures of families and elderly people receiving help, we know that we are reaching the lost.
If you want to be a part of this, we will be very thankful. Think about the white shirt on the pole. Look at the pictures, the faces of the children, the elderly, the places they live and the fear and poverty they are facing due to COVID-19.
If you want to support, you can buy a care package for 15 dollars. One package will feed a family for two weeks.
Last week I was on the phone with my pastor friend in Puyo, in the Amazon Jungle. I was happy because our corona lockdown in Florida finally is over, but in Ecuador the reality is very much different. Due to the pandemic, people are not able to leave their houses during regular hours, and they are only allowed to drive their car once a week. Because of this, it is very difficult just to get essential supplies for a house hold. People have to walk, and if they are not back in their house before 2 pm, they will be fined or even arrested.
Many of the people we know have family members and friends that have died due to COVID-19, including one of the ladies that took care of our team in Esmeraldas last year. In Guayaquil which is the second largest city in the nation, they are burning dead bodies in the street or even dumping them in the ocean, because they can’t bury them fast enough.
Church is Essential
My good friend pastor Carlos Marchan who has an established ministry in the area, cannot pastor his church since everything has been shut down. I challenged him to become essential, to buy food and start distributing food to people in the community like we have done it at our church in Orlando, Florida.
I asked him to buy food at wholesale prizes and we would send him the money. Starting with one ton of rice for 1000 dollars, he could make the church into a food distribution center, which would be the beginning of the temporary “food bank” in Puyo.
A few phone calls later, business people started to donate, and the next day we were able to buy one ton of rice, eggs, cooking oil and other essentials for the people in Puyo as an emergency response to the pandemic.
Right now the pastor in Puyo is working together with my other friend who is a tour guide. He has a military background and will be able to use his vehicle to pick up the food without any restrictions.
Our friends in Ecuador will be receiving the donations through our ministry and document with photos and video as they buy the food and give it out to the people in the community, especially families and elderly people in the neighborhood who cannot make the walk to the supermarket.
The economy in Ecuador is hit hard. People have lost their jobs because of COVID-19, and when the oil prices dropped, the nation was brought to it’s knees. Oil is a main source of income in Ecuador with an export rate of 60 pct.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have all learned how behave as responsible human beings, keeping social distance, not gather in groups bigger than 10, wait for one another as we manuever through our favorite store, that has introduce one way aisles and limits on toilet paper, kitchen towel, paper plates and more.
In this season I have received countless of e-mails from different organisations and institutions of how they respond to COVID-19. Messages from my insurance company, my bank, paypal, the movie theater, different churches and charities, places I have visited or realtors I contacted years ago. I did not even realize they had my email address, so I responded with “unsubscribe”.
What Is Your Response?
As you can read in this blog, our first response has been “feed the poor”. Extravert instead of intravert. Reaching out and touching lives, even though we can’t touch them physically. When non essential business shot down, we can still open the door. Changes motivated by love and respect for our community and authority and not from a fear of COVID-19.
Now is an incredible opportunity for the Church to rise up in love and in service to communities around the world. The need for Jesus is more apparent than ever, and our potential to influence the world is great. What the enemy intends for evil, God can use for good.
With Vision Comes Provision
In this season we have been feeding our community every night, giving out hot meals to go, close to a hundred meals a day. We started during lock down not knowing if there would be enough hands to help, but so many people have joined the vision.
Since we started feeding the poor, provision has been rolling in, as we have started to give it all out. It is like a constant flow, pallet after pallet, as we keep sharing, a supernatural multiplication is taking place!
Yesterday we received a huge load of t-shirts, and this morning it was distributed so that we could make more room for food. We were organizing and sorting things out for our foodbank. So many people were out there, waiting in line, just to get a few essentials. We gave out 62 boxes, and as we were packing down, we made a final drive for three single mums plus a daughter, her mother and her grandmother!
Where Is Your Faith?
This blog is about giving, but it is also about living. In this season everything we knew has been shaken. This has been a season of turmoil and change. There have been sickness and death, loss of jobs and financial stability, and many people don’t know what to hold on to anymore.
I made up my mind long time ago. Since we don’t know how many years we have in this world, we should live our lives more intentionally, finding purpose and faith before it is too late.
To trust in God is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. The Bible describes faith as the substance of things hoped for. This solid hope is unshakeable, like an anchor of stability that we can hold on to when the oceans roar and rise.
Life is fragile. We cannot take things for granted anymore. Suddenly we see things in another perspective. For some people it might be blurred by fear, but for others it is clear as faith. The world has changed. What is your vision? Is it fear, or is it faith? What is your response to COVID-19?
This morning as we arrived to the parking lot outside our church, we spotted this shopping cart loaded with shopping bags like ornaments on a Christmas tree. We have seen a lot over the years, but this caught my attention to an extend so I almost forgot to park in my usual spot.
Next thing I saw was a person laying next to the cart. My husband went over to see if it was somebody we knew. It was one of the elderly ladies, a very sweet woman, that I have had the pleasure of speaking with before. She was very confused and asked for a gentleman that used to come to our church for our brunch.
“Sorry Mam, we don’t have community cafe today because of Corona”, I said. “We are not serving brunch, but I can get you something else”.
I did not have any coffee, but found a cool bottle of mango juice, a small yoghurt and a pop tart. It was almost nine o clock. Some of the regular guys showed up outside the gate. But the lady didn’t want to stay. She took off with her shopping cart, heading back on the trail.
Coffee in The Courtyard
My husband invited some of the regular guys for coffee outside in the church courtyard. Just a few so we could keep the rules about social distancing. The coffee was brewing when another lady showed up. She was homeless as well. She had been living two years out of a van parked in her friends driveway.
“Sometimes they let me inside so I can watch tv. That’s nice and cool when it is hot outside. I have been living in the streets on and off. I have been arrested but now I have been out for almost a year”, she said. “I am ready to get my own place. Specially now with all this virus going around”.
The coffee was ready, so I gave her a cup, a yoghurt and a poptart. She closed her eyes and prayed, thankfully. Then she looked up and told me a little more about her life. She had worked as a prostitute, but not for the past year. I did not know what to think. This lady was at least 60 years old.
We talked for a while, and I promised to pray for her before she left. She was going to the doctor. She took up a bandana and coughed. I gave her one of our home made masks, and she gave me a big smile with no teeth. “I don’t like to go to the doctors office with all this corona”, she said.
I wish I could have given her a hug, but I have found a new way to greet people. Instead of saying see you later, we will say “Hug you later”. That made her smile. People need hugs, but most of all they need prayer.
Food Bank And Meals To Go
The rest of the day was super busy. First we arranged all the packages for the food bank and gave away a lot of frozen chicken and nice pastries for the Easter Holidays. We had a lot of nice stuff, drinks and chocolate, Starbucks coffee, creamer and chocolate milk powder.
At one point we got a phone call from one of our pastors. She had been contacted by a single mum with two kids that needed essentials. One hour later we received a pallet of diapers. Perfect timing, that is how we know that God is in control.
We gave out bags and boxes to 55 individuals and families in the community. And later today we served 50 free hot meals to go, like we have been doing it for the past two weeks during lock down.
I don’t know what other churches and ministries are doing for Easter but we are busy expanding in this season. Church is essential, and we are blessed to be a blessing. This Friday was special. It was Good Friday, and it was actually very GOOD!
The other day I read an article from my home country Denmark speaking about “being skin hungry”. I guess it is a new word in this pandemic, and the definition of “Skin Hunger” is the need of a physical touch, a hug and a kiss. In other words, we need to be loved!
Truth is that we are all social creatures and in this time of global social distancing because of the pandemic, people are starving for physical contact. We can’t live without it, and some people are so under stimulated right now, that they go crazy.
The Fear of Death
Social distancing seems to be a necessary curse right now but I wonder if the consequence of separating people is worth the prize compared to the many broken families, suicides, depressions etc that inevitably will swipe through the world as a consequence of the lock downs and separation of people.
Right now fear is in the front seat. People are afraid of getting sick. People are afraid of being a carrier of the virus. People are afraid of dying. And in order to control the fear of death, people all over the world are trying to control the spread of the virus, instead of turning to God who conquered death and gave us a living hope!
A Jesus Touch
At Powerhouse Church we reach out to some of the weakest people in society and for them the church is an important daily salvage raft that gives them hope and joy and a Jesus touch when most needed.
For them surviving daily in the streets is a much bigger threat than the virus and they need the church now more than ever. We daily follow the news of the streets of Orlando, news of murder, rape, broken families, addictions, gang, aids etc. We see people with cancers, open operation wounds, stab wounds. For them the corona is just another thing on the list to fear.
What Are We Waiting For?
People are telling me to shut down the church and to wait. To take care of my self and not risk the life of our members. My question is; Wait for what? Jesus did not wait for nobody, he touched the lepers and hung around sick people on a daily basis as he was doing his Fathers business. Paul said in 2. Cor 6:2 “Today is the day of salvation, now is the appointed time”. This is the Bible. No government order can postpone God timing.
I do not fear the virus. I do not live by fear, I live by faith, and my faith is being expressed in love. Perfect love drives out all fear. In times of social distancing, it is our time to show our hearts. While Christians all over the world are praying in their homes, their neighbors are sick of isolation and fear. This is the real killer! Who will show them the way to salvation, who will teach them to cry out and pray in times of distress?
Rise And Shine
This is the time for the church to rise!
Romans 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
This week we have started a daily feeding program, so that people can come and get a hot meal, meet some people, still keeping social distancing, and experience the love of God in action.
Today we received pallets of food and drinks for our food bank, reaching out to homeless and low income individuals and families in our community. On Sunday we have drive in service in the parking, serving the gospel of Jesus Christ to a world that is lost.
We Need Your Help
We don’t know how long this is gonna last, but we will continue to do as much as we can. Right now we need pop up tents to protect the people from the Florida sun and money for food to continue giving out the daily meals.
We need your help. If your conviction is to stay home, I am okay with that, but you can still help us reaching out to the poor. If you can’t go yourself, your money can make a difference. If you want to partner with Powerhouse Church and our ministry in this season, please help and donate today!
We see people with cancers, open operation wounds, stab wounds. For them the corona is just another thing on the list to fear.
In this season, my schedule as a traveling evangelist has been put on hold due to the pandemic. Two weeks ago I was ministering in Australia, and before this we were in Denmark and Ecuador. We came back to the USA on March 16th as our president introduced social distancing. We did not have to self quarantine, but I am thankful that I was able to return home before everything shut down.
The world has changed forever. Nothing is the same anymore, schools, entertainment, sports etc. are being shot down, while we are told to shelter in place in our community, staying at home as much as possible, only leaving the house when it’s needed. We keep hearing the word “essential”. Only essential businesses will be open, like grocery stores, doctors offices, fastfood restaurants and … the list is long!
The Gospel Must Be Preached
So now we are here in Orlando, waiting for the plaque to pass by, and in this season the church is essential. People are desperate, laying sleepless at night, turning to drugs and alcohol or even suicide because they are fearfull and hopeless. The world is still waiting for God’s children to be revealed and the good news to be preached. We cannot sit idle, we have a calling on our lives to be servants and witnesses of Christ. Our challenge is to find out what this looks like “in such a time as this”, not to act out of fear, but to keep the faith.
This we do as much as we can. Even though we don’t have our traditional church services, we had our first drive in service on March 29. We will not neglect the gathering of the saints, we can still meet up to 10 people to worship and pray and live stream our services, and we must still reach out to the community and feed the poor, which we do even more in this season.
What Are The Guidelines
Last week we called the Orlando Police Department to get guidelines in the current lock down. It provoked me that the churches are closed, while the store next door still can sell Coca Cola and snacks. Is church not more essential than Dollar General?, I asked.
The lady on the phone gave me a link to the Orange County website, stating that “this Order does not limit religious or funeral services at any location, but all persons leading, performing or attending religious or funeral services are urged to fully comply with all measures advised by the CDC, including limiting gatherings to not more than ten (10) people and practicing social distancing of at least six (6) feet between persons.”
Essential workers includes workers who support food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals, such as those residing in shelters, which also includes the church!
Hot Meals Every Night
I don’t know what other churches are doing in this season, but this week Powerhouse Church in Orlando have started a “soup to go” kitchen for our community, so that nobody have to worry about the necessities of life as long as the county is under lock down. Last night was our first night. People came walking, riding on bicycles and driving in cars for a hot meal made with love. We didn’t do a lot of advertising, but still we served 55 meals the first night and many more to come.
This is how we fight our battles. We pray, we worship, we stand on the Word and we feed the poor. We are the church, and in this season we have church, every time two or three are gathered, when we feed the poor from our soup kitchen. We are there for the people, sharing the good news in a time of much sorrow and distress. Serving God and serving people, that is still what we do.
A few weeks ago I joined Rich Marshall in Orlando as his guest on the God@Work television show. This program, that highlights how God is at work in people’s lives around the world, is produced by GodTV and my segment will air on March 16th at 8:30pm Eastern time. I really enjoyed my time with Rich and his other guests as we explored the power of God at work in our daily lives. Please tune in and tell your friends about this opportunity.
GodTV is on channel 365 if you have DirecTV; or you can get it online at www.god.tv/work. I am on episode 110. You can also download the GodTV app; God@Work is under the GodTV Originals section.
I genuinely hope you will watch the March 16th program and drop me a note letting me know what you think. GodTV reaches out to million 300 homes on the globe with a potential of 1 billion viewers.
If you are one of them, plz let me know!
Remember, put it in your calendar: Channel 365 on DirecTV; online at www.God.tv/work or on the GodTV app.
Last month I went on a mission trip to Ecuador to speak at a conference in Puyo in the Amazon Jungle and to visit the city of Esmeraldas which is a major seaport in the Northwestern part of the country.
Over the past year we have been ministering to a group of fishermen in Esmeraldas. It started with a random fishing trip and a bbq on the beach, and as we were eating together and sharing lives, people gave their lives to Christ. At this occasion, God gave us a vision to start building the community and supporting the families there.
I already shared how some of the businessmen in our church https://www.powerhouseflorida.com/ invested in a boat to to help a family with seven children and this time, we were able to raise funds to buy 1000 yards of nets.
Faith in Action
Coming back to Esmeraldas this time I found out that the fishermen had appointed a new leader of their fishing commune and that he was born again. He was happy to meet us and asked us to come and teach the community, and the following day he asked us to come and help them start a church.
We went out fishing and after the catch we arranged another fish bbq on the beach. People came from near and far, and this time it was much more easy to share the Word. I understood that the boat and the nets had been preaching for me.
When Jesus was preaching to the multitude, he did not only serve them the Word, he also looked to their physical needs and served them food. He demonstrated the power of God through five loaves and two fishes supplied by a little boy. Jesus was very practical and we should learn from him!
Building Church Community
As we were sitting around the fire, we realized that we were not only building the community, we were building church. These were tough fishermen, not saints. Some of them were alcoholics, but as we preached the gospel, they wanted to change.
It was almost midnight when we led the fishermen in the prayer of salvation. They received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and repented from their sins, right there on the beach. Then they started talking about getting baptized, and eight of them were ready to do it right away!
The water was there, so there was no reason to wait. Those that wanted to be baptized went out in the waves of the Pacific Ocean. It was cold and dark, but they didn’t care. This was the power of the gospel unto salvation, and these fishermen are now Fishers of Men.
I can’t wait to go back to the beach of Esmeraldas and see what God will do next time. I have no doubt. God is gonna build his church right there, as we continue to reach the lost!