Pleasant Grove Baptist Church Leaves Mark in Ecuador During its 10th Annual Mission Trip

Published Monday, August 20, 2018 at 11:14 am

A very busy, blessed and tired missions team from Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Zionville enjoy their work in Ecuador.

By Sherrie Norris

A mission team from Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Zionville has recently returned from its10th annual mission trip to Ecuador, where its members have made a lasting impact upon the people in the South American villages where they served.

However, according to church spokesperson Jackie Lawrence, the work the group has done pales in comparison to the blessings they have received in return.

Children in South America love receiving handmade gifts from Zionville, North Carolina

Having forged a partnership over a decade ago with longtime missionaries Steve and Carol Thompson, who serve through Global Outreach, the Zionville church family has made it a priority to help meet the ongoing needs of the people they have come to know and love.

Through the years, the church team has had the privilege of working with the Thompsons to accomplish a variety of tasks — from painting, light construction and cleaning, to helping with Vacation Bible School, distributing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes to an orphanage and more.

The mission team always takes with them gifts for the children that have been handmade by the ladies at Pleasant Grove, which have included many pillowcase dresses, stuffed whales and quilts.

This year, the Zionville team led a VBS in the Apatug community, located high in the Andes Mountains at 11,500 feet above sea level.   “Apatug is a farming community that we fell in love with several years ago,” said Lawrence. “There were no Christians in Apatug until the late 1990s when a group of 11 became Christians after attending a music concert and hearing the gospel preached. They were persecuted for their Christian beliefs, but have persevered, and now they have a church in this community. We had a great VBS with these precious children, with 55 attending on our last day.”

The team once again had the opportunity to assist with two distributions of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, Lawrence said, one in the Tambaloma community, “which was even higher in elevation at about 14,000 feet,” she described. “This was a very precious time with about 140 children receiving shoeboxes.”  
 The Thompson couple has worked in Ecuador since the late 1980s in the area of church planting and camp ministry, Lawrence shared. “They are so committed to their calling and have so many ‘God stories” of how God has been faithful to do amazing things in their work.”

One example, she said is through their vision for a camp ministry in the mountains, known today as Camp Chacauco.  

“Steve and Carol had heard about a piece of land located about 45 minutes from them at the time, which was not attractive at all, with no road access, no water or electricity,” Lawrence explained. “Still, Steve felt God leading him to tell the owners that they would buy it. The only problem was — they didn’t have the money, which was needed within a week. The following day, Steve received a call from Global Outreach, located in Tupelo, Mississippi, asking if he had an interest in camp ministry in Ecuador. Of course, Steve said yes. As it happened, someone had sent a check to Global Outreach designated for ‘Camp Ministry Ecuador.’ The check was enough to pay for the land, register the land, and pay the taxes.” Thus, Camp Chacauco, in Patate, Ecuador began.

Today, many years later, Lawrence said, the camp is a very vibrant and busy ministry in Ecuador with thousands of Ecuadorian children, youth and adults coming attending various events and camps there each year.    

It was a joy for a local church group to help distribute Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes to orphans during their recent mission trip to Ecuador.

One special ministry, now taking shape at Camp Chacauco, is a seminary for training Ecuadorian pastors, Lawrence described. “Our mission group from Pleasant Grove has had the privilege of seeing the building of the seminary from the beginning with the foundation several years ago to an almost completed building today. In fact, the National Baptist Convention of Ecuador’s annual meeting will be held at Camp Chacauco the first week of November, during which Steve hopes to have the seminary dedicated.”

The seminary is partnering with Southwest Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and has had 11 Ecuadorian’s already graduate through their online program with a second group of students currently going through the program, Lawrence added. “Once they receive their accreditation from the Ecuadorian government, they will become the seminary staff.”

Not only has the team from Watauga County had the opportunity to minister in Ecuador, but they have received great encouragement from the Thompsons and all the camp staff. “They have also challenged us in the areas of what true commitment really is. We have received so much more than we could possibly have given thru our time in Ecuador,” said Lawrence.

 This local church team is very thankful for the opportunity that allows their continued service so far from home each summer. “God has blessed us with being a part of this ministry where we have been able to do several different things for God and his people through the years.” Lawrence said. “We have come to know the camp staff as ‘family’ and have made so many wonderful friends, including those with Magnolia Bible Church from Magnolia, Texas, who we’ve worked with for the past three years, leading children’s camps and just sharing our time in Ecuador together. As our pastor says, ‘It’s all about Jesus,’ and we consider this partnership to be all about Jesus! We are grateful he has chosen us to be His hands and feet in Ecuador and we give Him the glory.”


Children in Ecuador anticipate the arrival of their friends in America each summer.

Jackie Lawrence loves spending her “summer vacation” loving on children in South America.

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