Missionary Minds: Wuori in Ecuador

P1030673Steve Wuori, his wife Veronica and their three children minister in Ecuador. Saved at 27, he entered seminary at 28, and at 31—one month after graduation—arrived on the mission field. His tasks include church planting, education, jail ministry, and evangelism in the Amazon jungle. He has worked with Latinos but mostly with Kichwa and Shuar Indians.

  1. Who or what played the greatest role in your call to missions? When I first arrived at seminary I was averse to becoming a pastor. Then God gave me a desire to preach. Then He gave me a desire for missions. I thought that the US had received the Gospel and was full of churches. Other places have not received the Gospel and are without churches. As Paul wrote in Romans 15:20, “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation.” I had studied Spanish for 7 years in high school and college and saw this as God preparing me for a work even while I was an unbeliever. Shadow of the Almighty had the most direct impact regarding where my place of service would be.
  2. What are the most common errors that missionaries make? Any missionary who is not planting reproducing churches through discipleship, training pastors, and allowing the congregants to do their own work including establishing their own buildings is making a mistake. Where I minister, missionaries will go to a place, evangelize for a few days, and then leave someone with almost no biblical knowledge as the “leader” of the “church.” They return sporadically to visit one of their numerous church plants. What would our heroes of yesteryear say about this?
  3. What Scripture passage(s) is most comforting to you amidst the difficulties in missionary life? With what may be called my “lack of success”, I look to the Old Testament saints who were also called to preach where the people would not heed their call to repentance: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Noah, Lot.
  4. What adventurous tale in your current context can you tell us? Our arrival in the jungle was met with a town meeting. We were summoned and threatened with stoning and the burning of our home if we did not immediately leave. I pulled out the machete for the first time and cut a path through the thick jungle brush for my wife to flee if they came in the night. We prayed and trusted in God. I believed it was His calling for me to remain in that place. The Indians never attacked.
  5. What kind of dangers do missionaries face that other ministers do not? Death threats, disease, continual sickness due to poor drinking water and unsanitary living conditions, animal attacks, witchcraft.
  6. What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first arrived? (1) Not to build a church with my own money or mission funds. (2) The Indians hatred of the white man. (3) That I would not be immune to the lack of success in planting churches in the jungle.
  7. What is the most misunderstood thing about you and/or your ministry? I’d like to change the word from “misunderstood” to “unknown” or “incomprehensible.” The deep-seated Indian hatred of the white man consumes so many of them.
  8. What missionaries (past or present) have been most influential on you? Jim Elliot, John Paton, Hudson Taylor, Paul Schlehlein
  9. What is the best advice you have ever received? If there is anything else you can do, do it, because when you are suffering only your call will get you through.
  10. The biggest blind spot Western churches have in relation to missions is _______. In many places where missionaries are located, there is no need for them. Most cities throughout the world are very similar to US cities in that they are full of churches. Missionaries should go to the places where the Gospel is not being preached, or establish pastoral training centers in the already evangelized areas. Of course in some parts of the world there is a great need for orphanages and other such missionary work.

3 thoughts on “Missionary Minds: Wuori in Ecuador

  1. Thanks so much for posting this interview, Paul. I remember when Steve first arrived at PTS. What an incredible testimony to the power of God’s grace to save and transform!

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