Georgia Baptists in Ecuador: 'It's not about the gardening; it's about the gospel'


I recently went on a mission trip to Ecuador with pastors from two churches in the West Central Region of Georgia. I volunteer as a virtual strategy coordinator with the GA Baptist Mission Board. As a VSC, my role is to facilitate strategic mission partnerships that connect churches in the West Central Region with a field partner in Ecuador.

I have been helping churches partner with Johnny and Donna Maust, IMB missionaries in Rioverde, Ecuador. The Mausts work among the Afro-Ecuadorian people group in rural, coastal Ecuador. The Afro-Ecuadorians are considered an unreached people group by the IMB.

The Mausts employ a church planting strategy that involves evangelism, discipleship, and community development projects. The projects help the people and open doors to share the gospel. Each township or village has a community President. The Mausts build relationships with these community leaders which helps them gain credibility when working in a new area.

In January, I went with Pastor Steve Bullard of Royal Baptist in Newnan and Pastor Todd Slade from First Baptist of Moreland to work alongside Johnny Maust and his team in two small fishing villages.

We enlisted the help of an Ecuadorian national who has agricultural experience in the area. He has been working on a project to improve soil quality through composting and other techniques. He helped guide us in sourcing materials and helped us introduce these techniques to the two communities where we worked.

In both communities, the locals were engaged with what we were sharing about composting and gardening. Many of them worked with us to build compost areas and to work the soil.

 Our team had multiple opportunities to share the gospel. In one community, we stopped in the middle of our gardening presentation, and Pastor Steve from Royal Baptist used an illustration of a seed to give a gospel message to all who were in the field with us.

One evening we showed a gospel film using a projector system that is offered from Renew World Outreach. Donations from New GA Baptist Church in Villa Rica and Northside Baptist in Newnan were used to purchase the projector. We gave the system to the Mausts for use in future ministry.  After the film, Pastor Todd from 1st Baptist of Moreland shared the gospel with the audience.

When talking about our trip, I heard one of the pastors say: “It’s not about the gardening. It’s about the gospel!” The strategy of the Mausts is to engage the community leaders and develop relationships with the locals through community development projects. This opens doors to share the gospel. We witnessed this happening firsthand and were able to talk about Jesus many times during the week.

Good soil is being prepared.  Seeds have been planted.

In March, pastors from New GA Baptist in Villa Rica and Poplar Springs Baptist in Hiram will take a team to do the same thing in a third community we are targeting.

All of the churches mentioned in this article plan to partner long term with Johnny and Donna Maust and send more teams to do the work of the Missionary Task in these three small townships on the coast of Ecuador.

More seeds of the gospel will be planted and watered. In God’s time He will provide the harvest.