OAC International Conference, Ecuador 2024

This May, from 14th to 21st, OAC evangelists, particularly the leaders of national ministries, met in Ecuador for the first International Conference since 2016. Due to the pandemic, at the last moment we had to cancel the 2020 conference, which was due to take place in Jamaica.

Nate Saint's House
Nate Saint’s house

This time around some 70 evangelists travelled to Quito and once we met there… and having taken the requisite group photo on the Equator line (see header) we followed in the footsteps of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian, the five missionary martyrs of Operation Auca in 1956, to the edge of the vast Amazon rainforest, where we were accommodated in a hostel with reed roofed bungalows for each couple! One of the highlights there was to visit Nate Saint’s house.
Much has changed since the 1950s, and although a few of the evangelists gathering had already been born at the time of the event, OAC was only starting to spread from its Australian roots at that time. We are now well over 200 workers spread across all the continents and with established branches or small ministries in many lands.

Since 2020 our International President has been David Proaño, leader of a growing ministry in Ecuador. We give thanks for the local team, which is now working in schools in two districts, as well as other outreaches.

Until this post can be updated the header photo is from the 2016 conference in Germany.

We are delighted that this is the first International Conference when we should have been able to gather representatives from more than one African country. Visas were just recently issued! Buy sadly not all our evangelists are able to be with us for a variety of reasons, including transit visa issues or health.

The first day was our arrival and after a good night’s sleep we were off in a bus from Quito, first to the Middle of the earth, where the equator can be found. The museum has a great interactive tour! Lunch was part way to our final destination, but still at a high altitude. We were treated to Guinea pig and a folk dance demonstration. And so to our hotel on the edge of the Amazon rain forest. And it certainly rains!!!

The main conference was spread over five action-packed days, including meetings and conference activities, but also, being evangelists in a foreign land, opportunities to present the Good News in a variety of settings, including schools, churches and indigenous communities. Here (any time now) are some of the photos of the action!

The Itzels’ song Only Jesus, inspired by the sketchboard message, made a deep impression!

During the conference sessions, the first and principal item of business was to hand the baton… or rather the hammer, to our new (although he actually took over during the pandemic) president, David Proaño. There was more business, but some great teaching sessions, which are available on our YouTube channel, as well as times for fun, including a pool located between the bamboo cabins where we slept. And it rained… frequently and often in torrents!
But it wasn’t the only thing we learnt about the rain forest!

The Waorani tribe, who Nate Saint and his team were attempting to reach, and as the well-known story tells, eventually welcomed Saint’s sister Rachel and Elliot’s widow Elizabeth, with their daughter. At least one of the killers was converted and later travelled the world with Billy Graham. His son became a pastor and his grandson, Meniwa Nenguimo… welcomed us to Puyo with other believers who now live in the city. About 500 out of 3000 tribes people are reckoned to be believers. Later Meniwa showed us round Nate Saint’s house, which doubled as an airbase.

As you can imagine, no OAC conference is complete without taking advantage of ministry opportunities. In addition to schools ministry, we were able to preach in a number of churches and local communities, including church plants among the indigenous people. In one case at the location given no one was there, so the team went to another community which was delighted to gather everyone for the gospel presentation. As the team was about to leave one place the bus got stuck in a pothole, but they took advantage of the extra time to continue sharing. Finally the bus was rescued.

Author: Chris Mathieson

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