Ecuador church builds playground thanks to generosity of Kansas children
Iglesia del Nazareno Renacer Huamboya, a church located in the Amazon region of Ecuador, doesn’t have a building yet, but that hasn’t stopped the congregation from reaching its community. Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Jack (8) and Savannah (11) Armstrong in Kansas, USA, the congregation built a playground on the site of their future church building in order to serve the community’s children.
Maria Elena, senior pastor of the Renacer Huamboya church, believes the playground will significantly benefit the church. About 25-40 children attend the church every Sunday. And while it's essential for them to learn about God through lessons and Bible verses, Elena says it's just as important for them to have fun.
"That's how they learn the Word of God," Elena said. "That's part of the development and spiritual growth we offer them."
The donation that helped make this playground possible started with the "Parable Projects" of children and youth at Central Church of the Nazarene in Lenexa, Kansas. Then children's pastor Julie Stevens (who now pastors Living Hope Church of the Nazarene in Centerville, Ohio) opted to start the projects in 2020 as an alternative to a spring musical post-COVID.
Based on the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the young people of Central church were encouraged to find a project they were passionate about and then raise funds for it.
"Part of [the project involved] coming alongside them and coaching them, helping them come up with the idea and find out what they were passionate about," Stevens said. "But you're developing a passion and a lifestyle for the future."
Jack and Savannah Armstrong were friends with missionaries Krista and Angel Sigui, who serve as the Nazarene Missions Teams coordinators for the South America Region. The Armstrongs decided to make and sell cookie dough to help raise funds for a specific project on the Siguis’ field, the North Andean Field.
Angel knew about the Renacer Huamboya congregation because a Nazarene Missions Team will help construct their building in June 2024, but he had also heard that they were hoping to build a playground. The goal was to host children from the community so their families would be familiar with the church when the building was finished.
Angel presented the project to the Armstrong kids, and Jack and Savannah started their fundraiser.
"I wanted to help build a playground so that kids could have a place to come play, hang out, make new friends, and learn about God," Savannah said.
In the end, they sold 100 dozen packs of homemade cookie dough. With a few added donations, they raised $1,000 to donate towards the project. The playground construction was completed this September.
"I wanted to help build a playground so kids could learn more about Jesus," Jack said. "I knew it would make me happy to have a playground, and I wanted to make them happy too."