Esmeraldas is a beautiful province on the Ecuadorian Pacific Coast adorned by a brilliant sun, with waves hitting the boats that sail through its sea. But it is also an area filled with serious social conflicts affecting young people, who are easy prey to drug trafficking, crime and violence.
Jefferson Burbano lives in Esmeraldas. He is a 63-year-old man who dedicated most of his life to construction and fishing. Twenty-six years ago, Jefferson gave his life to God and has sacrificed much to serve Jesus since then. However, in 2017, something changed the course of his “boat.” He participated in his first Community Church Planting (PIC is the Spanish acronym) training. During the training, he was moved to change course and become a fisher of people. Through the training, God helped Jefferson discover the necessary tools to bring the good news of the gospel to his community. He believed the gospel would turn many to repentance and transform the serious social situations Esmeraldas was experiencing.
Jefferson didn’t have the profile of a potentially successful leader. He had little academic background, poor communication skills, serious financial problems, limited smartphone skills and no transportation of his own to attend meetings and training sessions. Jefferson was an ordinary believer in a working-class church in Esmeraldas. However, none of his limitations prevented his “boat” from being used by God.
Jefferson now serves in his local church, “Nuestra Roca es Cristo” (Our Rock Is Jesus), teaching and leading men. For the past five years, he has also launched Community Church Planting networks, sharing his testimony and God’s story of salvation so others can know Jesus. He visits homes, runs a market as a token of God’s love and multiplies leaders through simple church-planting training.
Five churches representing 300 people have resulted from Jefferson’s training and mentoring. The “houses of peace” he has planted have multiplied into other “houses of peace.” Jefferson is a coach who trains others and dreams of advancing toward all God calls him to do. He prays God will raise more workers for the harvest. Today, Jefferson is participating in online ministerial training and is taking a basic computer course.
The Lord changed the course of Jefferson’s “boat.” The Holy Spirit does indeed empower ordinary believers to take the Word to the far corners of the earth.
Leobenyg Barreto is Venezuelan and lives with her family in Colombia. Together, they have planted a church in Tocancipá. Leobenyg is a content generator for IML Latin America.