Two Trips to Manta

My name is Edi Gallegos and I am part of the Manta team for Extreme Nazarene and my testimony starts with some interesting news but, at the same time very unexpected. On the 22nd of April we were asked to take supplies to those in need in Manta. All of it was pretty unfamiliar to me. I had never in my life visited Manta, not even as a tourist, even though it is a very famous place for it’s beautiful sights and beaches. We got ready to travel for the early morning of Friday the 22nd of April with the coordination of the Pastora Astrid and the team. We left from the Theological Nazarene Seminary. Within the plans of God, the entire Extreme Nazarene team had been preparing. Through the week of the earthquake we had a spiritual experience. Through a fast of two days and very deep meditation and disciplines where we were sensitive to the voice of God through a day of silence, it was a big reason to why we were ready. Never would have have imagined that it would be preparation to face the greatest catastrophes to hit Ecuador.On this occasion all of the guys on the team when since there were rumors of dangerous situations in Manta. We were concerned about aftershocks after the earthquake and the potential attacks against us from delinquents by people who were impeding help from getting to where it really needed to go. The desire and wish was accompanied with the fear of the unknown invaded my whole being. I was ready to serve even though we didn’t get any sleep or food. My greatest desire was to be a blessing to the people in Manta. It was a long trip. It took more than 8 hours because we went with a large truck filled with basic food needs, potable water, and clothing. Because of the amount of weight we were carrying we had to go slowly. Upon entering the city all of the news and rumors were becoming a reality. The beautiful city of Manta received us with a horrible smell in the air and a very sad panorama. My heart couldn’t believe it. I asked myself if this was just a terrible nightmare. As we went into places where help was needed, many hopeless faces received us with outstretched hands and clothing covered in dust from the destroyed buildings. There was machinery clearing areas that were blocking help and rescue to get to people that had been reported missing in the Zero Zone, or the Tarquin sector, where there was barely any homes left standing.

Once we were where immediate help was needed we were able to provide help distributing drinking water to the inhabitants of that sector. Then, we put on a children's program with a movie and games where something amazing happened. Their faces that were full of fear and panic changed to faces with beautiful smiles, which was something so impacting and filled my heart with joy. The event ended with a reflection lead by Luis Espinoza. He shared the message of hope and salvation of Jesus Christ where the majority of the people there expressed a wonderful manifestation of the power of God. Their eyes were full of tears and comfort. They recovered faith and hope. It was an day of huge blessing where we not only gave out material needs, but we also gave out spiritual needs like healing their hearts of fear and sin.

The next day we were even more ready to serve God. Having made out beds on the floor of the home of a humble family that opened their home to us to rest, we were not robbed of our desire to continue. We went out to where the center of the earthquake was, which was considered the zone zero. With love we went about the area sharing lunches prepared by the hands of people from Guayaquil that were also providing help. In this sector it was hard to really hold an event. There wasn’t anywhere to connect anything to electrical power. We decided to share the message of Christ to each person we met. While we gave people food, we also gave them spiritual food. It was wonderful to feel the gratefulness from the people. Our greatest reward was seeing the thirst of God. On that day we went into the neighborhoods where the earthquake’s destruction was plainly seen. It was a joy to share food and donated clothes there.

That evening at 9:00 pm we went to an abandoned part of the city where the electricity hadn’t been reconnected yet. This was nothing to impede us from carrying on our evangelismo event, thanks to Machala and our team of volunteers from Quito. We were able to have a beautiful night full of joy for the children and adults in the area. We told the message of hope there. Our fervent desire to help motivated us so much that in each event we took down people’s names who wanted to know more about God. The desire to return and to meet these people again filled us with so much joy. Close to dawn we were finishing up with our great joy as we accomplished the purpose of our visit.

The next day we returned to Quito with a great burden to go back to Manta to visit these people that opened their hearts to God and to us. It was so so wonderful to have felt a part of the manifestation of God’s love for the people of Manta. It was an experience I will never forget.

God responded to our desire to be able to keep helping the people of Manta, and another opportunity came up to go back specifically to visit the people that had given us their contact information and prayer requests. A couple weeks prior we had the privilege to call them and learn more about their situations that they were facing in order to be able to help them in their needs. We left on Friday the 13th of May in the afternoon with the whole missionary team. For the first time our whole team left for the place, where within our own plans, we would in July to plant a Church of the Nazarene. Once again, we see the word of God manifest, “your thoughts, are not God’s thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8).

We arrived in Manta around 9:00 pm where, without resting first, we visited the ground zero. People there were sleeping outside because they were afraid that their homes would crumble or thieves would come in looting. It was a night full of great blessing. Many kids came to play games and participate in the dances we did. A message of hope and love was shared by Pastor Luis Espinoza. There were a lot of people that accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Left nearly without any energy, but with much joy in our hearts, we rested for the next day. We started in the morning very early with prayer and time of devotion so we could do our visits with the people we met that last time we were in Manta. I had an amazing time with my visit. The man had told me over our phone call that a few weeks before they were in need of medicine for his wife for an illness she had in her brain. Milton opened his doors to us. We went in with a doctor and nurse to help him.

More than just taking medicine, with the direction of the Holy Spirit my friend Gustavo from the support team from Ibarra lead Milton to surrender his heart at the feet of Christ. It was so amazing to share the word of faith and hope with this family where the desire to go to church was left burning fervently in their hearts. With the invitation to visit them again we said goodbye. We were left with the great joy to have formed part of the family of Christ. Then, in the afternoon, we came to the place where the team from Guayaquil, who had hosted a children’s event and share the gospel. Close to 3:00 pm we were visiting a shelter where there were lots of families left with no homes. It was an awesome experience to be of one spirit with the teams from Ibarra, Guayaquil, United States and Extreme Nazarene. The youth from Guayaquil did some children’s games, and they shared the message of salvation with the families there. They were comforted and blessed. It was an awesome moment... totally unforgettable.

We ended our time in Manta on the beach praising God and lifting up our prayers for Manta. All of the volunteers that went, close to 40 youth and adults, with our desire united to share hope and love with the help of God, shared the experience we lived through to be instruments of God. We gave this time to God in thanksgiving and joy to have been able to felt the hunger for the word. It was a time that motivated me to continue with my decision to serve God regardless whatever adversity. My trust in in God and today, more than ever, I can testify to that. I encourage all of us to continue doing God’s will in this life. God deserves all the glory and honor.

Meet the author

(Edi with three of his missionary teammates)

Edi Gallegos is 40/40 Missionary for the city of Manta, Ecuador. He is Ecuadorian and came to know the Lord after his dad and sister prayed for him. He gives glory to God for the man that he is today.