Closing the Circle
Ana Cristina Bastidas grew up in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. With a drive of just a few hours in any direction, she could see jungles, mountains or beaches. Being in the middle of such a big city, she interacted with a diverse range of people groups on a daily basis.
“Ecuador is such a beautiful country,” Ana Cristina said. “I grew up loving to see the handcrafts of the people from other regions and all the different animals.”
To those of us who grew up stateside, Ecuador may sound like a far-off land. Having never been there, we may hesitate or pause. Often the unknown brings up those types of reactions. But diversity is not something to shy away from. In Ana Cristina’s experience, it was what she loved.
“I’ve always loved the diversity that Ecuador has, and it was always present in my life,” said Ana Cristina.
Ana Cristina began working for Compassion International. It was there that she first came in contact with a team from a little church in Mishawaka, Indiana. It was a time when Ana Cristina was questioning and looking for a new church.
“I knew I needed a change,” she said.
When the team from Epic left to go home, Ana Cristina stayed in touch. Then, in her words, “everything fell in the right place.” She came to Epic and began to get involved.
There are certainly parts of life in America that are different from back home. For instance, Ecuador’s culture is very family-oriented. It isn’t common for someone to live on their own until they get married.
“The culture here is very different,” said Ana Cristina. “Living on my own was a huge thing, but I have to say I’ve gotten used to it.”
Something that helped in that process was the fact that Ana Cristina realized she wasn’t truly alone. The community at Epic became her family.
“The people here are so amazing,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to see so much love. People genuinely care. Epic truly is my family.”
Ana Cristina now serves as the Connections and Outreach Intern for Epic Church. She focuses on bringing people of different backgrounds together – whether that’s here in Mishawaka or in another country.
Over the next few weeks, you’ll be hearing stories about Epic’s Partners Abroad ministry – the global outreach arm of Epic Church. Ana Cristina helps lead that ministry, and her background has helped her immensely in this role.
She was taught English at an early age, then she learned French when she went to college. Ana Cristina has always had a love for language and culture, but it was when she saw the purpose behind missions and outreach that it all began to come together for her.
“When I was learning about Epic and I heard some of the partners they had around the world, it meant a lot to me to know that they were focused particularly on planting churches and making disciples,” she said. “That closed the circle for me – it was the cultures, the languages, the countries, the diversity and then the purpose.”
For Ana Cristina, this purpose falls right in line with the mission of Epic Church – to live in and live out God’s love.
“Behind the physical things that they do, (Epic’s Partners Abroad) all run with the same fuel which is making disciples,” said Ana Cristina. “They all focus on listening to people’s stories while they are doing these other things. That’s how they are living out God’s love.”
And for anyone who feels that travel and overseas missions seems daunting, Ana Cristina says there are important ways to be involved here at home that go deeper than financial giving.
“I’ve learned there’s a difference between spiritual and financial poverty,” she said. “Giving financially is very important, but if we support our partners in prayer, that is huge.”
Through all of her travels, Ana Cristina has learned that everyone has a story. We all have something to share. One of her favorite aspects of the Epic Church community is the willingness of people to listen to one another’s stories. It’s about taking the time to truly get to know people.
That’s a language that crosses borders and sets no boundaries.
At Epic Church, we believe that God is at work both here in our community and around the globe. Join us over the next few weeks to see how God is using Epic Church to impact the world as we live in and live out God’s love. And if you’d like to learn more about Ana Cristina, you can visit her staff bio on our website.