by Becky Crouse
A small crowd gathered around the newly constructed children’s room that had been added onto the Chémere Free Methodist Church in coastal Ecuador. The 30 children who come to the children’s program there every weekend were excited because they would no longer have to meet in a small, rustic wood building with a leaky tin roof. As María Belén Mejía – national coordinator of International Child Care Ministries (ICCM) in Ecuador – took a pair of scissors to cut the ribbon to begin the inauguration ceremony, she invited Winston Quintero Cuero to come join her. Winston is a construction contractor from the nearest city of Esmeraldas and an ardent supporter of the ICCM work. He drew up the plans for the addition as well as for a new bathroom behind the church. Using materials donated by ICCM, he oversaw the workers from the church as they volunteered their time to make this dream come true for the Chémere Church. So it was only fitting that Winston cut the ribbon to allow everyone entry into the room that he had played such a large part in building.
Winston’s skills have contributed greatly to helping children’s dreams come true through the Free Methodist Church in the Esmeraldas area. But first God used dreams to call and equip Winston. Ten years ago Winston was living a life that included excessive drinking. One night he had a dream in which he pictured three open graves in the ground in front of him. He felt himself fall into the middle grave. While he lay there he heard a voice say, “Get out of the tomb. It’s not your time yet. You need to save souls for me.” A few days later he felt an urging to attend an evangelistic service. Winston responded to an invitation given at that meeting and prayed to ask Christ to change his life. He started attending Cristo es la Roca Church with his wife. He quickly became involved in the church and began attending classes in biblical training.
Even before he became a Christian, God had given him a dream that he would become a builder. A Christian acquaintance gave him an electric welder, which encouraged him to follow that dream. He never received any official training; he says God gave him the gift of construction to use for Him. He has his own construction business so he can provide for his wife and eight children, and it gives him the flexibility in his schedule to take on projects like Chémere.
Winston also assisted the Esmeraldas church when they expanded their sanctuary, and using donated funds, he built a large second-floor dining room above the foyer of the Esmeraldas church where 100 neighborhood children receive a hot lunch three days a week. Winston’s wife is the main cook for the feeding program, and Winston oversees the children’s ministry sponsored by ICCM that meets every weekend in the church. Not surprisingly, the feeding program has made a great physical impact in the lives of the children living in the impoverished and insecure neighborhood where the church is located. But an even greater spiritual impact is being made as the power of the Good News of Jesus has lessened the attraction the children might feel to the powerful neighborhood gangs. As God has done in his life, Winston wants to show the children how to dream new, God-directed dreams that will bring them fulfillment and joy.