A Prayer for Ecuador

I went to Ecuador in 2014. 

When I heard that Ecuador was where I would be going to go on this mission trip, I had to look it up on the map. I’d never heard of it before, or given it a second thought. 

Most of you can probably relate to this. 

I don’t speak fluent Spanish or know as much as I could about the history and culture, but I have an advantage over anyone that has only read about the country in headlines: I’ve hugged the necks of some of Ecuador’s beautiful people. I’ve prayed with them. We’ve sang songs of praise together.

I’ve played soccer with the kids at school. I’ve cried under a palm tree. I’ve climbed Las Peñas, and I’ve spent a Saturday walking through a banana plantation. I’ve experienced church services that have changed the way I view Christ’s church entirely. It’s a colorful, beautiful place. I may have only been to Ecuador for a short time, but I fell in love when I didn’t think another country could ever steal my heart again. 

On Saturday night, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 shook this land and has killed hundreds of people, while injuring countless others physically and emotionally. 

President Rafael Correa recently said, “The immediate priority is to rescue people in the rubble. Everything can be rebuilt, but lives cannot be recovered, and that’s what hurts the most.”

Right now, Ecuador is trending. Just like other countries when tragedy strikes, everyone says they are praying. This, if they truly are praying, is an incredible movement. It is a way to bring everyone that live miles apart, who argue on the daily about their opinions online, to gather together in unison for a common cause. But I want to challenge you from this point forward: don’t hashtag your prayers unless you’ve lifted those people up in the light first.

Remember that even if you have to look that country up on the map, there are real people with real families and with real emotions. There are quiet homes and bustling capital cities and devout churches residing there, and it is just as important as our corner of the map. They are worth more than fleeting thoughts after you press “Retweet”. Use a hashtag to spread a movement that is outside of yourself, not to coat your feed with chatty charity that isn’t fueled by love. 

Before we even move on from this link, let’s pray together. Let’s pray that God would multiply our love, His church, and that in the midst of destruction that His people would know that He is still good. 

Dear God, 

Against all odds, help rebuild this place stronger than before. Build Your kingdom here. This world literally aches for You, God. Against all odds, may this grow Your church. 

Against all odds, give all those grieving and living in fear a peace that no one fathom, a peace that they can hold on tight to even though they don’t understand how it possibly can work.

We hate death. We shake our fists at You when you let it happen. We can’t even pretend that we understand. But we know that this wasn’t your original plan – the hurricanes, the earthquakes, and every physical, social, and economic upheaval. We know that someday Jesus is coming back to make what has been destroyed right again. We also know that You don’t waste anything – from passport stamps to death and destruction. 

May the ones that know Your truth in this scary time cling to the hope they have in You – and may others find You through them. Remind them that although this world fades, Your Word will stand forever. Be their constant when their foundation has been put into question. God, we ask that You would protect the mental health of these people that have witnessed the chaos and felt the shocks.  Be their hiding place and their refuge. 

From far away, please God, let our love ring louder than a well-meaning hashtag. If we say we’re praying, remind us to be on our knees. Teach us how to mourn with those who are mourning. Even when it’s awkward and not a single pretty word could make any of this better, teach us how to sit with people in the darkest hour of their pain.

Make everything sad come untrue in Your time. 

Help Your children worship when all is broken and let us cling to the hope of Your glory when all else has been stripped away.