If you think the story of Jesus has reached every corner of South America after generations of missionary work, talk to Gabriel Mugmal. His idol-worshipping neighbors almost burned him alive for preaching the Gospel.
Gabriel boldly shared his new faith house to house with other Quichua villagers high in the Andes Mountains of northern Ecuador. He challenged them to stop the idol worship that permeated the area. They demanded that Gabriel renounce his words. When he refused, villagers dragged Gabriel and his family to the center of town and prepared to burn them.
But Gabriel wasn’t afraid and began preaching from Genesis. And when he had finished, the mood of the crowd had changed.
A local priest, moved by his willingness to die for Jesus, raised Gabriel’s Bible in his hand.
“The Word of God shall be preached throughout the world,” the priest said. “Keep preaching the Gospel so everyone can know Christ.”
As the crowd began to disperse, 10 families stayed behind. “How can we receive Christ?” they asked.
That was 25 years ago. Today, more than 250 villagers worship less than 200 yards from the site where Gabriel was nearly martyred. What’s more, Gabriel and those he has led to Christ have started 30 Bible studies and churches in other villages dotting the Andes.
“He took the Great Commission in Matthew 28 literally,” said Southern Baptist missionary Darrell Musick, who partners with Gabriel and other local leaders to spread the Gospel among the Quichua people. Musick and his wife, Rogene, met Gabriel in 2004 when he knocked on their door after walking hours across mountain trails.
“God has sent me here,” he told them. “I want you to train me to lead my people to Jesus.”
They did and have since trained more than 200 other Quichua believers in church planting and discipleship.
But missionaries in South America and all around the world need another strategic partner like Gabriel: you. They’re looking for prayer warriors to undergird their ministries, for strategically involved churches to help them reach those who’ve never heard the Gospel, for God-called servants to join them on the field as new missionaries. And they need your financial support through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
More than 3,340 of the world’s nearly 11,600 people groups continue to live and die in spiritual darkness. Among these least reached peoples there are few, if any, evangelical Christians, and no one working to plant new churches. Closing this gap will require a growing missionary force partnering with stateside churches, national Baptists and other Great Commission Christian groups.
Sending the unprecedented number of missionaries God is calling will require extraordinary giving on behalf of Southern Baptists. The task is doable; God has given us the resources. Will we be found faithful?