This is where the 'traveling Child' stays when he isn't in a parade or in a special service.
Well, as you can see, the 95% Catholic population has a big influence on the Ecuadorean culture. Aside from enjoying the colorful presentations, it is troubling to see the great lengths people will go to, spending a small fortune to deck out their 'float' or horse, or even baby stroller so they can 'win' a blessing for their home and family. Sometimes they can't get together the cash for a few weeks after Christmas, so these parades go on in a smaller form every weekend until Carnival- which is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Many people compare this level of devotion to a statue to what we in the States have experienced. "they don't really pray to the statue, it's just a symbol to help direct our thoughts to God." But in 20 years we have had many conversations, and because of the level of syncretism here, the truth is that many really are praying to one particular statue or image . . . of a saint, or the virgin Mary, or a baby Jesus, or a crucified Jesus. A college student once told us how he and fellow students would have long arguments over which statue, located in different cities in Ecuador, had more power.
It is sad to recognize that in spite of their devotion, they just don't know that Jesus isn't a little baby, or a crucified man- He is the Son of God! He came and died for our sins, so that we can share in His heavenly Kingdom, and we can never do enough good works to 'win' His favor or Salvation. We are so blessed every week seeing the number of new people who come into the church. We pray that He will continue to allow us to serve here and enjoy this great harvest. He is a mighty God who is alive and drawing us all to Himself. Oh, that we can be sensitive to hear and respond.
In I Thessalonians 1:9b-10 Paul is telling the church: "They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead -- Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath."