CMI News

When You Can’t Finish the Race

Changed Lives
When others give up, Marco races forward. He loves a challenge. For 14 years and counting, he spends a few weekends each month competing in long-distance dirt-bike challenges called ‘Enduro’ (“endurance” in English). Along the way, he’s added a wife and three daughters. But life handed him one course he couldn’t endure. 

Marco motored into marriage with the same speed he used in competition. When he first laid eyes on Cristhella, he told his cousin, “She’s going to be my wife.” Two months later, they raced to the altar and got married. 

Soon Marco and his wife decided to tackle their next challenge. Ready or not, it was time to start a family. First came Alanis. Then came Darline. And finally, Danna. Three daughters. Marco’s life was full, and he loved it. But soon after Danna’s birth, Marco’s picture-perfect life began to crack. Although Marco and Cristhella navigated the birth of their first two daughters with success, Danna was different. Her constant crying was not normal. Her outbursts forced Marco and his wife to search for the cause.  

The first leg of their journey ended in a devastating diagnosis—brittle bone disease. Marco and Cristhella were in disbelief. But Marco accepted the challenge and was determined to find a way to prevail. He led his family on what became an endurance race for a solution. This race took them from doctor to doctor inside and outside of Ecuador. Answers alluded Marco at every turn. 

For the first time in his life, Marco was in an ‘Enduro’ race he could not win. He was stuck. He exhausted his family’s resources, and along with it, all hope. He turned to alcohol to soothe the pain he couldn’t shake loose. No matter how many drinks he finished, the pain remained. Cristhella spun into depression. Divorce seemed like the inevitable end of Marco’s once happy adventure. 

In this darkest of valleys, a light broke through. Some business acquaintances reached out to Marco and Cristhella. They shared their own painful journey and invited the Arias family to their church — the Cumbayá Church. 

Cristhella and the girls jumped at the opportunity. But Marco stayed in neutral. After a few Sundays, Marco set the bottle down long enough to join them. His breath smelled of alcohol as he walked into the sanctuary the first time. His head awash and hungover, he settled into his seat. He watched on through the haze of alcohol.  

Quickly, his eyes fixed on one thing. He witnessed families filled with joy worshipping Christ together. This was enough to draw him back. He determined his course over the next several weeks. He would drink during the week, but leave the bottle in the cabinet on the weekend.  

He studied the church like a racetrack map. Each Sunday he was investigating the gospel, watching the leadership, and exploring how the church worked. What he discovered surprised him. The church was not a thing for him to analyze, but a Person for him to trust.  

Marco found peace in the person and power of Jesus. In the gospel, Christ finished the real race Marco could not. And because of this, Marco could trust Christ to walk with him and his family through each challenge Danna faced. Jesus would be strong so Marco could admit to being weak. 

It’s been two years since Christ changed the course of Marco’s life and family. Danna continues to struggle with painful fractures. But Christ is there at every turn as Marco leads his family to trust and pray. Time and again, Jesus provides his enduring presence and peace. Marco’s marriage is healthy. His wife and daughters are growing through the discipleship school of Cumbayá.  

As for Marco, his passion for off-road racing remains strong. It’s no longer just a hobby though. Marco and his family turned it into a ministry. Galo, Fabian, Freddy, and Carlos are a few of Marco’s fellow-racers who now follow Christ as a result. 

Your support helped Marco hear the gospel at the Cumbayá Church. Unable to outlast life’s pain, he was careening toward a tragic divorce and a broken family. Now he can finish the race well and lead his family and friends to do the same. 

Thanks for all that you do to help change lives with the gospel.