In case some of you missed the last newsletter, I wanted to put this article here so that it would be easy to reference, as we hope there will be ongoing results, and permanent changes in the Ecuadorian laws as a result of this terrible tragedy.
On Sunday, August 26th 4 members of our church were killed in a bus accident near Chunchi, Ecuador.
For the past two summers, we have sent teams of youth to minister at the Ark Orphanage in Riobamba. They each paid to go and help out the 50+ orphans with vacation Bible school type activities, as well doing daily chores, painting, etc. Thirteen members of our youth group, who made up the last of three teams that went this year, had finished their week ministering to the children and working with the staff. As they ministered, prayed and worshiped together their love for the Lord and their burden for the orphans had grown. They had been calling home telling their families and friends what a wonderful time they were having and how their lives had been changed.
On the way home, about 2 hrs. north of Cuenca, an oncoming bus swerved into their lane and smashed into the side of their bus. Three of the youth, Pedro Vintimilla, 17, Sebastian Carrion, 19, and Andres Vallejo 20, were killed instantly. The other youth on the bus sustained only minor injuries. Angel Sanchez, 45, another member of our church, was also killed in the accident, leaving behind his wife and child. Angel was not part of the ministry team and just happened to be on the bus returning to Cuenca from Quito.
We were in the middle of our Sunday morning service when the sad news began to trickle in. Some reports said that the bus was being robbed others said that it had rolled over. Immediately, several parents and two of our elders who are medical doctors, Marlo Palacios and Rene Cabrera left for the scene of the accident.
On Monday, we had a memorial service for the three boys. With the coffins of the three boys at the front of the church over 1200 people came out. Many of whom had never heard the gospel message before. The abundant and powerful grace of God was evident to all. It’s been a trying time, but the parents of these boys have been an awesome testimony to all. God has been faithful to comfort and strengthen them and the church has pulled together to minister to the parents, family, friends and youth. Pray for us that as the weeks go by, we all will continue to seek God for His gracious help in coping with this terrible tragedy.