The magnificent Ecuadorian cordillera cuts a jagged stripe down the country’s centre, a vast mountain range lush with forests and lakes and boasting snow year-round at high altitudes—despite sitting atop the equator. Nestled in the heart of these mountains on the outskirts of the small city of Ambato sits the Evangelical Crisolito Bilingual Church. During the week, 309 children bustle through the doors to learn from their tutors and get help with homework, eat nutritious meals, get heath checkups and, most importantly, learn about a God who loves them dearly.
On Sundays, the church is a busy place, too—and not just for adults. Staff and volunteers here have been running “Kids Power Connect” every Sunday for the past year. This Sunday morning experience is designed to help children learn and grow in God’s word and empower them to be disciples in their peer groups and families.
Staff spend time with the children as they arrive, running games and offering face painting while they wait for church to start. Here, nine-year-old David gets his face painted with a soccer ball—his favourite sport. He says, “I love church because my tutors love me and teach me the Bible verses.”
Little ones worship their Creator through song. 10-year-old Helen (centre, in the black hat) says, “It’s a time to praise the name of Jesus and to listen to His sweet voice.”
This Sunday, the children learned about the armour of God from Ephesians 6. Can you guess which piece of armour they focused on?
After the message, it’s puppet time! These colourful characters ask younger children questions about the message to help them commit it to memory.
Children line up to participate in the offering. Every gift is honoured, no matter what size. 13-year-old Wilman (right) loves serving in children’s church. “I love to praise God. I feel like He is listening to us and receiving what we give Him.”
For children aged three to five, Bible lessons are reinforced using age-appropriate games and songs, while older students participate in a more in-depth class where they study the Word of God and discuss how to apply it to their lives. Conversations often cover the different issues young people face and what’s happening in their community.
After lessons, children get to choose an activity to participate in, like arts and crafts, music or soccer—all focused on learning biblical principles. As an example, children learn about the gospel, loving one another and working together during the soccer program, which also attracts children from the community. In the arts program children fill in colouring pages depicting Bible verses they can take home and share.
One ministry children can participate in involves drama, choreography and puppetry. Children use dance and acting to share the gospel with children in the community. Here, a tutor helps direct a group as they practise their performance for an upcoming program.
After feeding the kids spiritually, it’s time to feed their tummies! Children gather for a nutritious plateful of rice, chicken, salad and plantains.
Running these programs takes a lot of work, but seeing children grow in their faith is worth all the effort. As Centre Director Silvia Valla says, “It was a great challenge for us, but we understood what our mission was. We are here to reach our children and make them true disciples of Jesus.”
Field reporting by Cecy Yépez, Compassion Ecuador