Ecuador courthouse prayer ministry finds success
Pastor Marcelo Fretes and his prayer ministry team stand outside their local courthouse weekly in Latacunga, Ecuador. Many have stopped to request a prayer to relieve their burdens.
Fretes was inspired to start the ministry after witnessing another prayer ministry while visiting a congregation in Kokomo, Indiana, USA. He saw how a group of church people set up a table and offered prayer to bystanders.
“Some people would accept those prayers, and some didn’t,” Fretes said. “I remember a pregnant lady stopping by the table to request prayer; she was about to go into the courthouse. Her face looked troubled, but after the prayer time, she looked hopeful.”
This experience impacted Fretes' life so much that he decided to start a similar ministry in Latacunga. He and his team set up a banner that read, “We want to pray for you.” Every week, 15-20 people approach the prayer team desiring to be prayed over.
“One day, a woman came by to request prayer,” Fretes said. “After the team prayed for her, she pulled money out of her purse. The team told her that prayer was free. When the woman heard that, she started crying because she couldn’t believe the peace she felt was [came free of cost].”
Karla Vallejo and Amparo Bonilla are part of the prayer team that faithfully shows up at the courthouse weekly. Bonilla drew her inspiration to participate in the prayer ministry by watching how the missionaries worked in Latacunga.
“My motivation to participate in this ministry is to help people,” Bonilla said. “I saw how missionaries [worked] in Latacunga, which inspired me to get involved in missions.”
Karla Vallejo is a firm believer in prayer. When she participated in a prayer event out in the community, she realized the burdens people carry with them.
“I realize we always have something to pray for,” Vallejo said. “There’s always a need, a fear, a pain or sickness; when we don’t know Jesus, we’re captive to those feelings, and only the Word can free us.”
Fretes has witnessed the look of fear and despair of many before or after entering the courthouse.
“People who get there [the courthouse] arrive with a heavy heart,” Fretes said. “Many are about to receive a sentence that day, and before entering that place, they can encounter people who can pray for them and help them carry a burden. Those people enter with a sense of peace to face whatever they need to face.”
In neighboring cities, other pastors— both Nazarene and non-Nazarene—have seen the impact the Latacunga church is making and are looking to replicate the prayer ministry in their city.
Fretes feels compelled to get involved anywhere he sees a need. One Scripture that prompted him to immerse himself in his community in Matthew 9:35.
“The need is out there,” Fretes said. “Jesus would go where the need was. He would care for the blind and the lame. This is our time (now) to see God’s glory. You may wonder what you can do; you can do a lot. The resources will always follow the vision. He can do great things with the little you may have.”