For 40 years, World Partners Global Workers Keith and Ruth Ann Elliott have been actively engaged in Missions in Latin American countries. For many of those years, they lived in the countries they served. Since the mid-80s, their primary focus has been to prepare leaders to take pastoral responsibility for their congregations. They have worked with churches that are part of our Global Partner Denominations, the Evangelical Missionary Church of Ecuador and the Missionary Church of Mexico. They also took occasional trips to offer support and encouragement to the Evangelical Missionary Churches in Cuba. Back in Canada in 1998, Keith served as the Executive Director: Missions and Administration in the National office for 8 years. They moved to Mexico in 2006 and worked helping to train pastors until 2010.
In 2011 Keith and Ruth Ann were invited to join the Ecuadorian Church’s Pastoral Care Team. There is little help available for pastoral couples struggling with relationship difficulties, and as a result, some have left the ministry. The Elliotts work with the team and prepare specifically requested resources to proactively address issues.
After assuming direction in 2015 for Camino Global, which is now part of AVANT, Keith and Ruth Ann accepted an invitation to return in January 2020. They now serve with EMCC World Partners as Global Partner Developers for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Serving as Global Partner Developers for Latin America and the Caribbean
In response to requests from our Latin American global partners, the Elliotts first listen to the vision God has given the national leaders for their churches. They entertain concepts and proposals to help them strengthen their churches’ development in participating in the mission of God. This is how they recently came to prepare and teach a well-received series of eight, two-hour classes on grieving at the request of Pastor Jaime Pazmiño, President of the Ecuadorian Church. Help was needed for pastoral couples accompanying families going through grieving, whether due to COVID or other causes. Delivered by Zoom from their home office in Kitchener, Ontario, the classes included screen sharing, breakout rooms, and Q&A. Even some one-on-one sessions were arranged for leaders who wanted to talk further with Keith or Ruth Ann about issues that arose.
Ruth Ann speaks of their invitation from leaders, some of whom they’ve known since they were young people, now in their 50s: “They said to us, ‘you are our spiritual mother and father. Be our mentors.'”
Pastors’ wives, who are hungry for training dealing with women’s issues, contact Ruth Ann. She works with these women leaders and they, in turn, take what they’ve learned to help women in their congregations. She also mentors some of them.
Their ministry is generally requested at the Global Partner level, but they also get invitations from individual churches. Recently, a local church pastor contacted them about participating in a series of seminars on marriage for his church. Since the presentation was online, he decided to open it up for the entire denomination. As many as 112 couples were online, some pastoral couples, but most from the congregations!
A couples’ dialogue every Friday night in February is their newest endeavour and they are excited about it. It will involve couples in all five zones of the EMC of Ecuador and will be a time for pastoral couples to share needs and pray together. They expect these evenings will identify future training topics.
A Privilege and Joy to be invited to walk alongside
Although Latin America is a warm culture with a high value on face-to-face ministry, Zoom does expand the possibilities. In the time of COVID, it is the only way to go, and the technology is a tremendous asset. In future, even on the field, it will cut down on time-consuming travel.
The Elliotts continue to be part of the Ecuadoran Pastoral Care Team, under the leadership of John Cedeño, which the President and National Executive have had in place for many years. The National church owns their own development and the care for their leaders. Keith and Ruth Ann count it a privilege and joy to be invited to walk alongside them in support.
“We are praying more people will come forth to take an active role in the Pastoral Care Ministry,” says Keith. During this challenging time, he mentions they are seeing local pastors rising to the needs and becoming creative in meeting them. “Some have really shone as they are comforting others, listening and mentoring.”
In their role as Global Partners Developers, Keith and Ruth Ann continue to receive invitations to provide online training, counselling, mentoring and discipling, and to support the continued growth in our Global Partners’ vision to see God’s mission achieved in their own countries, and together to the ends of the earth.