By Zachary Headings
Thursday, August 1, 2019

​In Ecuador, the Ross Richers support indigenous pastors and leaders in themes of creation care, economic justice, inclusion of women and children, youth empowerment, and community development initiations. Their commitment of creating deep roots and relationships gives them opportunities to respond in appropriate and loving ways to the needs around them.

As Christians we pray … “on earth as it is in heaven.” However, there are times when it is difficult to know how heaven should look. In these moments we look for guidance from Scripture, through prayer, and from our brothers and sisters who surround us. 

Jane and Jerrell Ross Richer serve in a two-way mission: They accompany indigenous communities and churches in the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador half the year, and then return to the United States where they are intentional about sharing in educational and church settings what they learn from brothers and sisters in Ecuador. Recently, they navigated a complex situation in Ecuador where they felt led to care for a 14-year-old Cofán boy, Rubén (name changed for privacy).  

Ross Richers released a prayer letter on May 3: “Last month, a day before we left the village of Zábalo, Rubén’s aging father passed away, and we believe the Good Shepherd brought the boy to our home.” 

The Ross Richers have known Rubén for four years. He often arrived at their home early in the morning and stayed until late evening. In that time, Jane said, they have found that he contributes much to the world. “He has a profound understanding of the rain forest and what it takes to survive. He is a hunter and a fisherman. These skills are core to his indigenous identity.” The Cofán of Zábalo call themselves the guardians of the rain forest. They possess the title to 160 thousand hectares (395,000 acres) of protected rain forest.
Several months earlier when the Ross Richers returned to Zábalo from the United States in January, Rubén no longer lived in the village. At the time that his father’s health was deteriorating, Rubén faced the choice that many indigenous youth face: stay in his community or pursue a high-school education away from home. When his father passed, it was clear that he didn’t have a support system to stay where he was. The Ross Richers felt God calling them to act, and so they received him into their home.  
They had sensed the presence of Christ within Rubén. “As Christ, through this beloved child, is teaching us, we are also loving and affirming him. Together, we are experiencing the kingdom of God, here and now.”

The Ross Richer family returned to Goshen at the end of June. Before they came back, through prayer and discernment, they found Rubén a home that fit his goals. He was received by a foster family from a Kichwa indigenous church near a rural public school where he can study.

Jane said, “We trust that this new family and community … will be equipped to guide and direct Rubén, while at the same time helping him to remain connected to the land.”

In caring for Rubén, the Ross Richer family asks for prayer for Rubén that God’s love will console his lonely heart and restore that which is broken.  

While Sierra attends Goshen College, Jane, Jerrell, Naomi, Teresa and Jordan will return to Zábalo in January 2020, where they will continue their two-way mission—supporting and learning from the Cofán and other indigenous peoples as they serve Christ.




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