This is part four in a series that discusses how God is using a small cafe in the Andes mountains to further His Kingdom.
Before going any further, I want to tell about how God has used El Sendero to disciple me and to grow my own faith. You see, Dustan and I arrived in Loja as green as a missionary can come. Although I had experience in US based missions Dustan had none and neither of us had done any missions work internationally, not even a week long missions trip.
Furthermore, we could not speak the language past “Hola” and “Gracias”. Practically speaking we were pretty unusable! We were untrained, inexperienced, and without a lick of language skills. The only thing we DID have was desire and El Sendero is a unique ministry in that it can use missionaries just like us.
Because of our English ministry, young missionaries can get involved right away and inexperienced missionaries can get on the job missions training. The cafe provides the perfect environment to learn mission strategy and gain practical experience.
In the year 2011 El Sendero welcomed 5 short term missionaries as well as several volunteers. These young people worked hard to keep the cafe functioning as well as share the gospel. All of them left changed by God and encouraged to share the gospel no matter where God sends them next!
One of our volunteers was a gal named Stephanie. She did not come to Loja as a missionary but rather as a student/volunteer at Loja’s University. She was busy doing research on the Andean Bear when she heard about El Sendero. She had a deeply rooted faith in Jesus and took the opportunity to join many of our ministries. She had the following things to say:
About El Sendero’s Global role in the body of Christ:
“I'm learning that no matter where I go, the Church will always be my home and family. My friends/time at Semilla de Mostaza and El Sendero in Loja and the Compassion staff in Colombia have made my time in those places a jillion times richer than they would have been otherwise and I am super thankful to be a part of a global loving welcoming awesome body of peeps.”
About an experience at Spotlight Club:
I don't know what portion of the guys in my group were already Christian- one obviously was, maybe a couple more.. We talked about it a little, and then the guy on one side of me straight up asked why, 2000 years later, Jesus is so important. So with encouragement from the Christian guy on the other side of me, I directly shared the gospel with a new person for probably the first time in my life- about how we're sinful and deserve punishment, but God sent Jesus to live a perfect life and take our punishment so we could live free from fear and live in God's love instead. The guy seemed receptive, commenting that it was a good example of sacrifice. I have no idea how much else the guy knows or what his background is, but I hope I was able to accurately express what we're all about and please join me in praying for him and the other students too!
About how God used El Sendero to provide her with an opportunity to share her faith:
It's funny because at the end of my freshman year in college, I was terrified at the thought of an English-teaching mission trip to Japan (which got cancelled anyways), but here I am in Ecuador as a student, not even on a mission trip, but just trying to live my life in line with God's mission, and I've ended up teaching English and sharing Jesus. And it was easy and fun. Yay!”
God is using this coffee shop. He is working. He is changing not only the lives of unbelievers as He pulls them to Him, but He is changing the lives of His children as He strengthens our faith, gives us opportunities to share the gospel, and teaches us to rely on Him.
Here are some photos of some of the missionaries and volunteers that God has blessed us with.