Mar 5 2014

Cotopaxi Training Center – Ecuador

Update #1 filled you in on our personal lives and home life.
Update #2 filled you in on La Fuente – the church plant that is the beginning of a movement of church planting.
Update #3 – What’s going on with Cotopaxi Training Center?

About 6 years ago we purchased 3 acres of land that sits in an agricultural valley with a spectacular view of Cotopaxi, a snow covered volcano (see map “Cotopaxi). The property is also on the Pan American highway, giving easy access from anywhere in Ecuador. Many of you have given financially or worked physically on this property to build a training center for Ecuadorian pastors and leaders. We’re in this TOGETHER!
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Chris, Janet, and Elijah Nevins lived on the property as the training center was being constructed (Chris overseeing the construction). Most of you remember the forced entry and robbery that took place at their cost. Many of you have continued praying for them and have asked how they are doing as they returned to the states. We are happy to report that they are doing well and continuing in the ministry of Fuel the Mission.






We then concentrated on building a wall around the property in order to secure it. This is now complete as well as buildings that are also secured. Thank you especially to Matthias’ Lot church for all their visits and hard work, and Red Door Church for helping us to secure the property and make it more beautiful!


Our goal has been that CTC would be sustainable – providing food for all who come for training, retreats, or short term missions. Good friends and neighbors, Juan and Maria, have been living on the property and helping us to farm the land. We have been on a learning curve as the altitude, arid climate, and other natural factors continue to cause production problems that need to be solved. Still – we are now harvesting veggies every week, pretty much year round. Steve has also started an aquaponics system which is still in the experimental stage, but on it’s way! There are already guinea pigs (cuy), and rabbits being raised at CTC for sale and for consumption. We will add chickens (both egg providing and meat providing) soon. This, plus the fish used for the aquaponics system, will provide the protein to go with the veggies for CTC students and visitors.
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The training center now has a kitchen, dining/meeting area, men’s and women’s bathrooms/showers, and bunks to sleep 30+ people. It has already been used to host La Fuente retreats and training seminars, as well as teams coming down from the U.S.
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As you read in our previous posts, step #1 toward utilizing the center for training was to plant a church that the training would be rooted in, founded in, and church planters sent from. La Fuente (planted in Quito) is on its way toward being Ecuadorian led and ready to take on Ecuadorian interns as part of the training process for church planters. The goal is that men would spend half the year at Cotopaxi Training Center (in Lasso) for intense biblical study, and then the other half of the year at La Fuente (in Quito) to intern and train in the practical aspects of church planting. They will then be sent out in teams to plant churches.

For those of you who have been following us for several years, you might wonder what happened to IBCI – the training program that goes to those who cannot leave to get formal biblical training. We are continuing on with that under a new banner that will also be rooted and founded in the local church (La Fuente) and led by trained local church leaders (all over Ecuador).

As Steve begins a process of backing out of the “Lead Pastor” role at La Fuente, he will step into the role of administrating CTC in Lasso. This is the next step in the process.

Just this week we broke ground at CTC for a small house to build for just the two of us. Now this may not sound exciting to you, but we have only had our own space to live in for 2 of the past 16 years. We have loved the community living, have been challenged and stretched as our hearts have been laid open. It has been a good way to mature in Christ. But, the thought of our own (what we have dubbed) “Little House on the Prairie” sounds pretty wonderful about now! We will initially go back and forth between Lasso and Quito (half the week in each place) until the leadership reins are passed into the hands of the next pastor at La Fuente. We are incredibly humbled to have Karl and Paula Hatrak volunteering the month of August to come and help finish off the interior of the house – meaning we hope to be in it by September.
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This is an exciting time of fruit bearing here, as we see the hand of God bringing all things together. We thank God for His faithfulness! We thank God for each one of YOU who have teamed with us in prayer and finances as we continue forward to what He has called us to.

With our shoulder to the plough and our trust in Him,
Steve and Sandi

Just a note…we have suffered pretty large losses of finances these past few years with the economic downfall in the U.S. We are consistently trying to run all the ministries here on about $700 a month LESS than we had a few years ago. The ministries have multiplied, but the finances have dwindled. Please consider helping us to continue to reach out to our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters by joining us with financial support. 


Compassion Connection
47855 Southview Pl
Indio, CA 92201


Dec 16 2013

God Clearly Said, “Plant a Model Church”

Four years ago we began praying. We had property to build a Training Center. We had the heart to train up church planters. But HOW do we train up church planters that will have a vision to plant churches that are gospel centered, missional, and based in intimate community in a culture that many times preaches a gospel opposite of that?

God clearly said, “Plant a model church.”

“Plant a model church? But we just want to train church planters, we don’t want to be the “gringos” planting a church in a culture not our own!”

“Plant a model church. Let me worry about the cultural thing.”

So, we changed up OUR plan (to immediately start up year-round training at Cotopaxi Training Center in the farming area of Lasso) and did the harder thing: Preparing the way for the Training Center to be more productive by being partnered with a model church – that we would plant. So, we moved to the big city of Quito (see details in our last update) and planted a model church.

La Fuente is the name of the church and “Truth, Mission, Community” are our values. We started out in our own house. Then moved to a fellow planter’s house. Then moved again to a church member’s house. We have moved three times since then (a total of six locations) as we have outgrown each place (except one, which was perfect but ended up being demolished by the government).









God has faithfully provided us with co-laborers and with people who are dedicated and hungry for God’s truth.

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Planting a church here has been a bumpy road, our own hearts have been pummeled and challenged, but it’s been a road well worth the taking.

La Fuente meets on Sundays to hear uncompromising gospel teaching. Then smaller groups meet geographically weekly in a home. Each home Community Group is involved in missional activity in their own community. That’s about it. Truth, Mission, Community. God is using this simple and fairly foreign way of “doing church” to bring many to the full knowledge of Christ. Eyes are being opened, hearts transformed, lives changed. And we are right in the middle of it all with our own hearts and lives being challenged and transformed. It has been amazing.

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Our next update will explain the exciting plan for the use of Cotopaxi Training Center partnered with La Fuente to raise up and send out church planters. CTC is already alive with activity and has hosted many events…but the future will see even more use and productivity!

Please continue to pray for La Fuente. That God will use this church to send out church planters and to train up men and women that will break cultural chains of darkness in the lives of the generations to come!

“Plant a model church.” God is always right. So thankful that we humbled ourselves and obeyed.



Oct 30 2013

Catching Our Breath in Ecuador

That is a funny title that could be a pun…as we live at 10,000 feet in the Andes Mountains and are often fighting to fill our lungs with air at this high altitude! But, the “catching our breath” that we are talking about is because of all the good things that God is busy doing here – the things that keep us running and forever needing to stop just to catch our breath.

We have been so busy “doing” that we have neglected to frequently report to you what is going on. We will be sending you updates over the next couple weeks to catch you up on OUR HOME life, OUR CHURCH life, and COTOPAXI TRAINING CENTER.

Today we will concentrate on updating you about OUR HOME and home life.


View from our house








We moved to the “big city” of Quito three years ago to plant a church (La Fuente – more on that in the next post). We wanted to find a very large house so that we could hold church functions there, have our offices there, take in interns if needed, and have extra rooms for people that may need a place to stay for a while. Oh heavens! We really did not anticipate how full this house would be and how much we would stand back in awe as God used this place for His glory! Here’s a quick summary of the abundant blessings we have already shared in this house:







One of the three Community Groups from the church plant has met here nearly since day one. It has been amazing to hear the testimonies of God’s grace, love, rescuing power, and mercy every week as we gather to share the gospel and our lives together. Just last night, two women from two different back grounds gave testimony to how God had rescued them and given them the truth and given them family through La Fuente. Our “small group” grew to up to 30 people – all crammed into our living room – so we have now established two new leaders who will take half the crowd into another home beginning this week!








Every week the Community Group makes up and packages 300 sandwiches to be taken to one of the government hospitals the next day to show love and care and offer prayer to those who are waiting for desperately needed help. Every week, bags and bags of hand made love goes out from our home and Community to those who are suffering. Our counter tops are scuffed up, there are always crumbs in the cracked floors, and there are mountains of mayo bags in the fridge to remind us of the laughter and united purpose that happens here each week.






We have had five interns and too-many-to-count travelers and temporarily homeless friends pass through our doors and be a part of our community for a few days, weeks, or months.  Huge thanks to Matt and Maria Hawn, Joe and Morgan Stein, and Emily Davidson for their months of help and encouragement…even when they had to stay in less-than-homey rooms.


Steve’s office is here, so there is nearly daily traffic in and out as he counsels, encourages, teaches, and instructs. He is also spending huge amounts of time studying for sermons and teachings, and strategizing for leadership training. On top of all that, he is nearly done with his Master’s program, and will graduate in May of 2014.









Sandi’s office/jewelry making studio is here, so that means that there is a constant buzz of creativity going on as she designs jewelry and lays out work for and instructs Leonor, who she has hired  because Leonor was in desperate need of income to feed her family. Our home gets turned  upside down for photo shoots that Sandi organizes in order to sell the products they make. You can follow Sandi’s cause (helping desperate women in Ecuador) here, and better yet – purchase the jewelry that supports the cause here!






Amie lives here too, and her office space is in the house as well. She keeps busy mainly with the finances…a huge help to a growing ministry!

Amie is now adopting two orphan siblings that were abandoned in the city a couple of years ago. Carin and Yvette are now officially foster children to Amie and she is pursuing official adoption. So we have two grandchildren here with us! Their lively voices and giggles have brought much stress relief to us all. You can follow Amie’s adoption process here.







And we have recently added another family to our household community. Leonor (who works for Sandi’s jewelry business) and her children have moved into a small studio apartment on one floor. They are a part of our daily household and family! We hope to help Leonor and her children on their way to a better life and to be the family to them that they do not have.

So…that’s a picture of our current busy home!
Next post will concentrate on OUR CHURCH: LA FUENTE

See you later this week! Oh, and please excuse our messy website…we are in the process of getting it updated with real working links!

Jul 29 2013

Churches planting Churches

La Fuente is still a baby church plant, but part of its DNA is to be a church that helps to plant churches. This is why we are partnering with the jungle village of Santana. There is a small group of believers there and La Fuente has now partnered with a man who will pastor these  fellow believers, and has made a commitment to send the people of La Fuente on a regular basis to encourage and help our brothers and sisters there. This month a group of 13 adults and 5 kids from La Fuente piled into an 18 passenger van and set off from the mountain city of Quito to the jungle region of Santana. Their cultural worlds are vastly different, but belonging to the same family of God closes the gap.

 Colossians 1:3-14 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Jun 18 2013


Looking deeply into the darkness of self and the light of grace

Noah Brennan is a fellow missionary and a critical part of our pastoral team here in Quito.

“We were just about ready to throw in the towel,” said one couple after attending a marriage retreat hosted by La Fuente. Thanks to the grace of God, they are now fighting together as one for the sake of their marriage.

Cate and I were able to challenge the married people of La Fuente during the retreat with these two questions: What if I married the wrong person? and Love can’t be this hard, right?

Those are essentially the questions that were making this couple wonder if they should throw in the towel, and if we are honest these are questions that will always sneak into our minds, no matter how good our marriage is.

Really these questions go to the root of who we see ourselves as and what life is all about, but to summarize briefly you could answer them this way: yes you did marry the wrong person, because we are all inherently wrong, and that is precisely what makes love

so hard; which means that it is only the power of the transforming work of God’s grace has the ability to overcome these realities.

To say it another way, without the daily application of the power of grace in our marriage, we will always be on the verge of throwing in the towel.

The view from our living room window

So those are the facts,
right? But the thing about just bare facts is that they don’t relay the way God’s truth and mercy have an incredible power to cut to the very heart of us all. To summarize themes in two paragraphs doesn’t show you the effect of this truth applied to individual lives. I cannot think of anything more amazing to witness than the truth of the gospel breaking through resentment, hurt, and anger to shine the light of grace and forgiveness into a our darkness.

It simply is impossible to not be moved as you see the truth of the gospel reach deep down into the hearts. Seeing that look of dread as they look face to face with their wrongness, and then to see the tears of joy as they understand (more deeply than perhaps they had before) the overwhelming joy which grace brings.

That ́s what I wish I could show you, not just the gospel as a set of spiritual truths, but the gospel as hope in face of desperation, the gospel as healing to deep, hidden wounds.

Jun 12 2013

Marriage Retreat and Hospital Outreach


The past 3 weeks have been full of excitement! We had our first ever La Fuente Marriage Retreat. It was held at the Youngren’s house where Sandi and some helpful singles from the Church prepared a lovely Italian dinner. Friday and Saturday night were filled with powerful teachings on what God’s word tells us about marriage. The couples at La Fuente were blessed by the fellowship and the impact of God’s truth. You could see the power of God’s truth speaking straight to the hearts. One husband said, “I am leaving a changed man.” Thanking God for His power to transform hearts!

We also have had the opportunity to reach out to a local hospital in Quito. A group at La Fuente, prepares sandwiches and juice for people waiting at the hospital. Most of the people wait for hours, sometimes days to even receive treatment at this hospital. We are able to pray with people who were sick, or who are waiting for sick family members. We go offering a sandwich, juice and most of all prayer for people who are in desperate need of  healing and hope from a God that loves them. Saturday, we prayed in faith that God would bring spiritual and physical healing and that he would comfort those who were awaiting news about their family members.


Across from the hospital sits a beautiful mountain( see picture). As we prayed in faith and confidence for God to move in the lives of these people,  His word was real, “… For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”  





Jun 9 2013

God’s Transforming Power

We had the honor of baptizing several new believers into the family of God today. We are humbled and elated at what God is doing!

May 30 2013

This picture sums it all up

Please forgive us for being negligent in posting here. We will get better at it! God has been moving in the hearts of His people and we are surrounded with testimonies of changed lives. This comes from our decision to follow God’s lead and plant a church in Quito. In the 3 years of organizing and launching this church, La Fuente, God has brought in people from all walks of life, stages of belief, and differing ethnicities. So many stories. We really do feel as though we are tasting what it must have looked like in the book of Acts.

This picture sums it all up in one precious moment. We have been in a series on Sundays about male and female roles, the past two weeks focussed on marriages. We discuss the sermon in homes at our weekly community groups. At the end of this week’s fairly intense discussion in our home about what the bible says regarding how husbands should be treating their wives and how wives should be treating their husbands, one man gets to his feet, turns to his wife and grown sons who are with him, with humble brokenness asks for forgiveness for his past sins, and gives repentant and loving hugs to each of his family members. Words cannot express the humility and exhilaration we feel as God rewards us with these moments of seeing good fruit come from the intense labor of the day.

Blessings to all of you who pray, support, encourage, and love us! We need it as we keep going forward with the gospel in a crazy, messed up world.

Feb 20 2013

La Fuente Missionaries to Santana!

How exciting! The Quito church plant sent out their first team into the jungle on a mission. La Fuente is partnering with the few Christians in the village of Santana to reach their village with the gospel. La Fuente church plant is already making it their mission to help plant another church.

Watch here to see the wonderful way that God bonds hearts and reaches out to those that don’t know Him (Title: Viaje Misionero a Santana).

Nov 8 2012

Help Spread the Word…Help Ecuadorian Women in Need!

For two years now, Sandi has been creating jewelry to sell in order to help Ecuadorian women in need. There have been many women helped financially through this endeavor, as well as giving continued support through a job for women who help her make the jewelry.

As we approach the holiday season and you are struggling with the commercialism of it all, this is a way that you can feel great about making gift purchases. You can help this cause by doing your shopping with Encantadora (“Enchanting” in Spanish) and know that every purchase made helps an Ecuadorian woman in need. The shop on Etsy accepts credit cards AND you can purchase a gift card there if you are puzzled as to what a loved one would want from the many wonderful choices.

1. Do your shopping at Que Encantadora
2. Pass along the info to family and friends
3. Enter for the drawing that is offered on Encantadora’s Facebook page
4. Share this video with everyone you know

Thank you to all of you for your love, prayers, and support as we continue to serve HIM in Ecuador!