What makes a great pandemic pastor?

CMI’s Inge Lise Valencia (center) with Quito pastors and wives.

What makes a great pandemic pastor?

Strange question, right? Not one you would’ve considered asking a few months back. But now…you’re asking all sorts of questions you probably never thought you’d ask.

At CMI, we recently asked that question of some of our pastors in Ecuador. Their insights were profound. Why? Because unlike many of us, this is not their first time leading through life-altering crises.

From devastating earthquakes to social unrest shutting the country down last fall, these pastors in Quito, Ecuador, have much to share.

Here’s some of the pastoral wisdom from our Zoom call in June. Our prayer is it will encourage your steadfast faith in King Jesus.

CMI: What would you say to fellow pastors and Christians here in the U.S. who may have never faced a crisis like this? How would you encourage them based on your experience leading through crisis?

Pastor Javier Silva, Norte

Pastor Javier Silva, Norte Church: Crisis is not an invitation to shrink, but an opportunity to grow. We’ve learned to prioritize people first. Then we look at ministry forms and resources and ask, “How can we rethink these so they serve people the best?” For example, before the pandemic, our Bible Academy served 390 folks. The pandemic forced us online. And now the Lord has brought 475 students.

Pastor Luis Solis, Republica

Pastor Luis Solís, República Church: Unfortunately, crises are commonplace in Ecuador. When they hit, pastoral shepherding and a commitment to minister through the crisis is key. Keep your people connected to Christ and one another.                                                                                                                                                                                  

Pastor Jorge Giacometti, Cumbaya

Pastor Jorge Giacometti, Cumbayá Church: It’s tempting to race to solutions and adjustments first. But our first response is to take refuge in the Lord and His promises. For us in Ecuador, this emphasis is not new. We tell new followers of Jesus and new church members this all the time. We’re used to circumstances changing all the time. God alone is our refuge. Cling to Him.

Pastor Victor Herrera, Puembo

Pastor Víctor Herrera, Puembo Church: By God’s grace, I’ve pastored for 20 years through the unpredictable ups and downs in Ecuador. There is, however, one predictable constant—I’ve never seen the Lord waste or misuse these unique seasons of crisis! The Lord, in His sovereignty and under His control, directs things in a surprising way. That He is there, directing us through them, is no surprise at all. During this pandemic, we’ve seen a significant spiritual awakening. Eager participation in our online ministries is just one evidence of that.

These seasoned leaders, purified by past trials, are indeed the Lord’s blessing on the churches they pastor. Beyond Ecuador, they have much to teach us and show us as brothers and sisters in Christ. Comfort is no teacher like crises. May we learn to emulate their faith and take refuge in the Lord, believing He will never waste a season of trial.