Three Men with a Dream
In 1972, John Guido, and brothers Francis and Bob Capaldi, were close friends attending the University of Arizona. They heard stories about hippies and students coming to know Jesus on the beaches in Southern California. They headed west to visit the Jesus Movement sweeping California. They gave their hearts to Christ and were baptized in the Pacific Ocean. After college, they kept serving the Lord, started careers, and got married.
On February 11, 1982, Francis Capaldi was leaving a seminar he had conducted on nuclear energy at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. He was accosted in the parking lot and shot three times. His murderer stole his car and escaped. His family was heartbroken by his death. Bob and John had deep sorrow, but they held on to a dream they had shared with Francis. They felt the Lord wanted to use them as missionaries.
John and his wife, Marilyn, took their four children to Ecuador in 1988. They came to Cuenca, nestled in the Andes, and found a home group with twenty people who needed leadership. Bob and his wife, Lauren, joined them in 1990. Bob and Lauren were expecting their fourth child. Neither family knew Spanish, nor had missio savings. The home group became a church that slowly grew to a hundred people over the next ten years. The Guidos and Capaldis became more proficient in Spanish, and their children embraced the culture. As new people committed their lives to Christ, they established outreach ministries. John and Bob began traveling to other cities as well, connecting with men who welcomed their wisdom and influence. They started new churches in many of these cities.
I met John in the 1990s when he came to Phoenix to visit his mother, who was attending Living Streams. I was impressed by his faith, and we added him to our missions’ support list. He invited me to come to Ecuador to preach and see what God was doing. I finally accepted John’s invitation in 2013, and was impressed by the churche I visited in Guayaquil, Santa Rosa, and Cuenca. There was a hunger for the Word, and great response to the gospel.
Last month, Kurt Cotter, Greg Pulice, and I went to Quito, El Oro, and Cuenca. Kurt and I spoke to groups of pastors and elders in each city, along with hundreds of people in each city who were hungry to grow in Christ and receive ministry. We were touched by deep fellowship, powerful storms, unsettling sickness, and the moving of the Holy Spirit. After being awake with dysentery most of Saturday night, I didn’t think I would be able to preach on Sunday morning in Cuenca. Fortunately, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. After Gustavo Cabrera, their presiding elder, laid his hands on me, I preached on Sunday morning to 600 adults at their 8:00 a.m. service, 750 more at their 9:30 service, and another 900 at the 11:30 service.
At the close of each service, Bob Capaldi, who was translating for me, gave an altar call for people to make first-time commitments to Christ. Over sixty people came forward to give their lives to Jesus that morning. Others came up afterwards to receive prayer for healing, deliverance, and encouragement. Kurt preached on Sunday evening to another 300 adults and a dozen people made commitments to Christ. I felt like heaven was open and I was back in the early days of the Jesus movement. Throughout the 1970s, we saw people give their lives to the Lord each week in our Bible studies and church services in California. What is happening in Ecuador is just as special.
In Cuenca, their church now has over 2,000 adults, a hospital, a Christian School, an orphanage, and a full-time radio station. Their elders seek the Lord and work together with love, wisdom, and respect. They provide a healthy covering for their ministries. In 2000, they joined the international network of Verbo churches. Verbo was started by men from Eureka, California, who went to Guatemala in 1976 to rebuild homes following a devastating earthquake. Verbo has since started churches in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Brazil, Peru, Spain, Mexico, and the USA.
Verbo in Ecuador has churches with thousands of people in Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca as well as smaller churches throughout the country. Bob is now the presiding elder for Verbo International. John serves on their International counsel and is the spiritual father of leaders throughout Ecuador. Verbo churches reside in nations that face economic challenges and many spiritual battles. John and Bob covet our prayers as they work to bring maturity and expand this fruitful ministry. I am inspired by these men who trusted God and cooperated with dreams inspired by the Holy Spirit. They are experiencing the reality that God can do exceedingly abundantly beyond all we ask or imagine, through the power of Christ within us. That reality is part of the inheritance of every follower of Jesus.