This is a video about the Cofan Tribe.

One of our dorm daughters is in this video.
(Yes... The one preparing the delicious armadillo!)

We don't want to say much. We are just so thankful that we get to be part of God's story in her life. We are blessed to live under the same roof.

So blessed to serve here!

If you are on facebook or any social media, you probably have heard of THIS video and how it has gone viral all over the web.
I saw this video a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it. It highlights the GOSPEL as God’s master plan to bring sinful/messed up sinners into a relationship with Him. It shows that salvation it’s God’s doing and not our own. It even talks about sanctification and growth based on the gospel and that our efforts are “just behavior modification”.
However, as the video has continued to get more hits and more people keep watching and sharing it, something keeps screaming at me every time. Something that is dear to my heart and changed the way I see “my” relationship with Jesus. 
See, God did something crazy in my heart during the Summer of 1998.  For the first time (after years of translating for short-term missions teams and participating on religious activities) the Gospel grabbed my heart. My new faith was so real that it seemed so against everything I had experienced in “church”. I pushed as far as possible from any form of “organized” religion. The idea of “I love GOD but I don’t love the church” became my trademark phrase and something that I was proud off. Through years with touring, working with various Christian artists and ministries, I became the poster child of that movement that encouraged grouping any sort of organized religion as evil and anti-gospel/ anti-Jesus. Religion was evil!Jesus was good!! Religion and Jesus were on two completely opposite sides of the spectrum.
So, I really love the video yet I am cautious that the artist doesn’t really define practically what religion means. On a society in which individualism is encouraged and it's seen as a virtue, it's dangerous to not define what is religion or paint it as all bad. He does say... "don't get me wrong I love the church" but with the same statement he is equating "religion" with the Church (God's vehicle for His Glory, his bride, ..)
Now with the excuse of religion being bad, we continue to feed a so called Christianity that is missing KEY components such as real accountability, community, confession, discipline and like 40 one-anothers in the Bible that are meant to be experienced in that context.
This specially hits home and breaks my heart as time after time , I continue to see beloved friends that pushed this message (or pushed this message with me) walking away from the faith. They have cut themselves from any sort of anchor, accountability and safeguard and in the name of Jesus are walking against many things that He loves. Finally, I had to post something because that individualism has been exported through missions and it’s so present in my beloved city of Quito with lonely-ranger, maverick Christians that love Jesus, yet are missing God’s main ingredient for His Mission. 
Back to my story... A few years later, the Lord hit me with one of the biggest lessons I have ever learned. Right before going to college, God showed me how I had thrown the baby out with the bath water. By not defining the “religion” that I was against, I was hating and defaming one of the most powerful agents that God had designed for growth in my life and to accomplish what I wanted to see the most... To see people come to know HIM. I realized that if I loved Jesus.. I had to love what Jesus loved.
My prayer is for us to stop believing that false dichotomy. To stop fighting and focusing on NOT BEING RELIGIOUS, but to pursue wholeheartedly BEING THE CHURCH THAT CHRIST DIED FOR.  For us to continue to seek that organic, deep rich relationship with our Lord, yet not seeing it as antithetical with our responsibility with our covenant church family. May our love and commitment to Christ and to one-another ignite a passion for His Glory… may that passion lived out biblically and practically in community shine brightly the hope of the GOSPEL light on a dying world that is begging for something authentic. 

Now if you still want to watch more videos.. this should be the needed Extra Credit (and better rhymes too :)
Dear friends.

Happy New Year!!
I am up late finishing up some last details for my workshop tomorrow at a local Bible Institute, so just wanted to send you a quick email to update you and give you some prayer requests for January.  Please pray for us as we get a month that is heavy with Teaching and Training Opportunities.

January 13th,20th, 27th. Maris will be doing short workshops on Biblical Counseling for our core planting team.
January 1st. Kick off for our series on First Principles of the Faith. Preaching on "Good resolutions vs God resolutions"
January 7th. Teaching a workshop at IBCI (Bible Institute) on Servant Leadership.
January 8th. Teaching the kids class (La Fuentecita) and presenting a short "distinctive" on giving.
January 15th. Preaching on Baptism.
January 20nd Seminar and Introduction for the "Truth Project" more on this soon.
January 22th Preaching on Cultivating our Relationships.
January 28th  Officiating the wedding of our great friends Gustavo (Brazil) and Amy (USA)

Discipleship Opportunities. Maris continues to meet with her Wednesday night girls and I am so excited to see how those relationships have been deepening. She has also been approached by a really influential 11th grader and they have been having some great times together. Please continue to pray for those opportunities as well as her relationship with many of our ladies in the church. She is pretty awesome... (non married single bros... marry well!!) ahah. Anyways, on my part I wanted to ask for your prayers as I have started a book study (Don't waste your life) with a group of guys from church. I am hoping that his would become an accountability group (idea that somehow is totally unheard of after 100 years of missionary history in Ecuador) Please pray as this is a group that I have been spending time in the gym and through conversations they seem to have a great desire to pass that superficial level of relationships.

Alliance Academy (Academics). We will be finishing the semester in two weeks. Please pray for more opportunities to love on the kids. Please also pray for the great amount of work (reports, write ups, report cards, observations, testing) that are part of closing a Semester and how to do that with excellence as we manage our various responsabilities.

Alliance Academy (Dorm parents). We got news a few days ago that one of our kids is leaving the country in two weeks. It has been a heavy issue in our hearts as he is a great kid, but is really close to "religion".  He is not a believer and has had a really hard time adapting to the country, the school and his life in Ecuador. We are sad to think that he is leaving and we ask you to join us on continuing to pray for his salvation and God's plan for his life. Please also pray for thoughts of discouragement of "did we do enough?"

Speaking of people leaving the last week has been really hard emotionally. Today was the memorial service for a beloved friend of my Hoffman family (and mine since I met him last year) in the US. We are thankful that he is in glory with the Lord. Our prayers go for his family that has been a great example of putting Christ on display through this hard time.
On the other hand, the Moncayos (Fernando and Dalila) are packing and moving January 20th to the US to reconnect with my sister and brother that have been there for the last 3 years. We were able to have the whole family over and it was a great family celebration. As joyous as it was it was also hard to visit the house were I grew up and think that "our house" will be owned by someone else in a few weeks. The Lord has been so good and is teaching us about putting our treasures in heaven, yet loving in a godly way the blessings that He has given on Earth. I will probably write more about this on the blog but I just wanted to ask for your prayers.

Anyways... through it all... we are so excited to be here in Ecuador. I have been back for 3 years now and I realize that either in the US or Ecuador, we will always be pilgrims and aliens longing for "home". We are thankful for a God that promises for a home that is not in the US, or Ecuador, but with Him in heaven when there will be no more goodbyes, nor tear, nor sorrows... As we start 2012 we could not be more excited to see God's hands leading us so clearly and showing us our part on His big plan here in Ecuador.  There are many needs and decisions that we must make soon. Would you please prayerfully consider joining us and allowing us to continue spreading the name of Jesus in Ecuador? The Lord didn't need to but He has shown us and made us committed to Ecuador as never before. Honestly, it's a beautiful yet scary place to be. There is so much going on and I continue to think of a quote that my friend Geoff Williams shared with me... "it's not if God is doing something but that I don't want to miss it!" Maris and I both feel that way and wanted to say thank you for your love and your desire to keep up with what is going on here in Ecuador. We wouldn't be able to do it without your prayers! This new year has a lot of new challenges and exciting things coming.

Blessings and Strictly Jesus!

Los Moncayos

PS. We are working on a new website and video.. Keep your eye out for that and let us know if you would like to help us :) For now.. here is a trailer I did for an event at church. Enjoy.

It has been a long time since I felt like blogging. Partly, I feel that I have been too busy to breath and actually allow myself to think about what to say. Now on the other hand, it's hard to blog having forgotten  my password for my OLD SCHOOL blog.  Oh, that Old School blog!

Let me give you a short history on my relationship with blogging. Way before myspace, facebook, blogspot, tumblr, and twitter were known , there was a site called xanga. In 2002 a girlfriend introduced me to the idea of blogging and since I liked her, I decided to get an account. To be honest, I didn't really like it. With time, I found myself really enjoying expressing ideas in that way, and started writing everything. The inevitable happened and she broke up with me; leaving Juanito  stuck thousands of miles away from home, learning a lot, yet feeling really lonely.  Blogging became a way in which God worked in my heart and helped me cope with my life alone in the U.S.  From wrestling on living out my faith on a real way,  breakups , being homesick, mistakes, joys,  being laid off, moving, traveling,... that blog became a great way to externalize in a healthy way what God was doing.  Through sitting down and writing the little mishaps of the ecuadorian kid, God taught me a lot and I experienced God on ways that I had never experienced before.  I grew in my faith rapidly and with my growth the blog also grew. I still remember traveling with and hearing from random people how they had found my blog and God somehow used it in their lives.  One of those visitors actually ended up key on me being able to pay my college years.. crazy heh?!

Anyways, why am I saying all of this? Because I have been praying for God to do something in my heart and the last week has found me wresstling and getting beat up (with love) by a God who is relentless on showing me that He has a beautiful plan ahead.

Yesterday, my wife and I were on the roof of the building shooting a video with our friends from and it hit me. The beautiful Quito skyline was reminded me that God has a beautiful horizon ahead.  A horizon that I have not been able to enjoy or think clearly because I have been reacting to not let go of what has happened before. Not just the situations and memories, but I see that I am holding to wanting to see God work on the same ways that He used to or he had done it in the past. I was convicted that I want to experience Him in the same ways that I did when I was sitting down alone in my apartment, late at night writing those blog entries and how that propelled me to the day to day life.

God was reminding me on that roof that the best is yet to come. To let go. To go back to enjoying Him for who HE is and not for who He has been. He has been faithful and true, yet there is much of God to experience and learn. To enjoy time with Him without thinking too much on what should be my correct, perfect response. To sit still and know that He is God.  So today, as I gave up on waiting for that response email to reset my password, I am closing that page convinced that I haven't seen anything yet. Convinced that God will work in beautiful ways. Convinced that I need to let God be God (for my own JOY). To be reminded of the principles, to go back to basics, to find my first love every day.  To live by Faith and how that looks like now as I lead my beautiful wife here in Quito... Ecuador here we come (again!)

Grace and Peace,

"Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  And one [seraphim] called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.  And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!  Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”  And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”  And he said, “Go" (Isaiah 6:1-9)

The hand of the Lord is always upon us, moving and shaping and guiding our existence according to His perfectly sovereign plan.  And the Lord's hand has been visibly evident in my life leading up to and during my time in Quito, Ecuador.

My name is Andrew, although my students call me Mr. Berndt, and I am just completing my three month student teaching semester in mathematics here at the Alliance Academy International.  (As a quick background, I am 23 years old and just graduated from Wheaton College (Illinois) this past May, and am currently working on a Master's Degree in the Art of Teaching from Wheaton College (Illinois) as well.)  Although I knew the Lord was orchestrating something as I prepared to depart for Quito back in August, I was unprepared for the "far more abundantly than all that we ask or think" that I was about to become immersed in (Ephesians 3:20).

Student teaching at the Alliance Academy International and living on campus in the school dorm (yes, living in the school dorm) are two experiences that I will not soon forget (yes, not soon forget).  In terms of student teaching, the Lord has been so gracious to me as I've prepared my lessons plans for Algebra 1 and Algebra 2, as I've taught those lesson plans while making adjustments on the fly and managing my classroom, as I've written quizzes and tests that are fair for my students and allow them to show me what they have learned, as I've graded quizzes and tests fairly in order to assess what my students have learned, and as I've cultivated and developed relationships with my students that seek to love them where they are at.  But I believe that it is this last area in which the grace of God has been most dearly felt over these last three months.  Although my personality is by and large individual and introverted, one of the greatest joys in life that the Lord has placed within me is loving and serving others in relationship, especially others who might in some way look up to me.  And it is this great joy of mine that led me to pursue a vocation as a high school mathematics teacher.  From the first day of school until now my students have welcomed me and have sought to build a relationship with me in ways I did not anticipate, with arms open wide (both figuratively and literally).  Ending my time as a student teacher will not be hard, from an educational perspective, but from a relational perspective it might be one of the hardest things I've done yet in my young life.  Over the past three months my students have become so dear and precious to me that saying goodbye on Friday is going to be hard, but it is a goodbye that must take place and pray for more of God's grace in my preparation to return to the States.

But student teaching has been just the first derivative of my time in Quito; living in the dorm has been the second derivative, and the majority of the "far more abundantly."  At first thought, although convenient, living in the dorm didn't seem like it was going to be the most appealing option for me.  However, the Lord's hand directs and living in the dorm has turned out to be more than the best option.  And why is that?  Juan Fernando and Marissa Moncayo, who have in large measure been God's servants to me while in Ecuador.  Perhaps more than any married couple I have gotten to know, Juan and Marissa have presented to me a picture of the Ephesians 5 type of man and the Proverbs 31 type of woman, demonstrating their sacrificial love to the land and illustrating the love of Christ for His bride, the Church, to all they encounter.  In addition, the two of them are so rooted in the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that one time event that is announced as The Good News that transforms lives, that its proclamation shines brightly from within them almost every time we interact.  I remember one of my first conversations with Juan early on in my time here and him saying, "I'm really looking forward to getting to know you, bro, but also to be the kind of friend that can ask you the challenging and hard questions."  Perhaps this should have scared me and caused me to flee, but thanks to the power of the Gospel it drew me in.  As a young man, I clung to this opportunity for friendship and have literally sought out as many interactions as possible with Juan, looking to glean from him all that I can.  During my three months the Lord has provided numerous opportunities for a friendship to develop between Juan and I.  Whether going to church or hanging out in the dorm or talking about school or lifting weights in the gym or chopping it up about Gospel rap music (I never thought I would go to Ecuador and find someone as blessed by and interested in Gospel rap music as me!), Juan is always faithfully present with me to listen and speak into me as he is led by the Spirit.  So as I prepare to head back to the States, I am saddened by the fact that that means I have to say goodbye to my newly found and dear friends, Juan Fernando and Marissa Moncayo, who have been used by God as instruments in my sanctification.

In closing, Lord is good, abounding is steadfast love and spiritual blessings for His children.  As one of His children, I have received the love of God through His directing me to the Alliance Academy International and I have experienced His spiritual blessings in the form of relationships with my students and the Moncayos.  God is three times holy and the only one worthy of my praise, while I am the chief of sinners and worthy of condemnation.  But in Christ I have been washed as white as snow and am equipped to say with Isaiah, "Here I am!  Send me."  With the Lord's calling we go, and as we go we trust that all things work together for the good of those who love God and have been called according to His purposes, a tautology that cannot fail.  In coming to Quito the hand of the Lord has been evident, and I have been blessed far more abundantly than I could have ever thought or imagined.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Grace and Peace,
Andrew Berndt
Dear friends and family,

Here is a bit of what has been going on in our lives since our return from the US this Summer. Yes... we have 7 kids and you want to hear more about it. First we wanted to share with you what is going on with other areas of our ministry here. Thank you for reading this and your love!

. The last few months have been heavy and heart breaking, as sin issues have come up with some members in the church. Sin promises a lot, but ends up destroying. Please pray for a few marriages that are on the line, because of brokenness from poor decisions, and heavy hearts due to health problems, finances, etc. On the other hand, the gospel is penetrating lives and people are maturing in their faith. This process is slow and intense and it's humbling to see how much more committed the Lord is to the sanctification of his church, than we are.
Please pray for us as the need for counselors
is great . The Lord has been so faithful to encourage us through this time through some great conversations and meetings with Ana Cecilia (who was saved last year and baptized during the Summer) and with Jonathan (a guy that was totally against church). They are both growing so much and it has been a privilege to see how the gospel is transforming their lives! Ana Cecilia is becoming a prayer warrior and an avid reader, that is zealous for loving and encouraging people with the Word. Jonathan has become a champion on understanding and sharing the importance of community and church to his friends, who he previously told the opposite. Please pray for them.
Related to this point, please pray for my awesome MARIS as she is planning on finishing her NANC certification. This will be huge, not only for the church plant and lack of biblical counseling in Ecuador, but as a tool for our extended ministry with the School.

Teaching. Coming back from the states I have had the privilege of teaching often. After closing the book of Ephesians, we
had a short Biblical Counseling series on the gospel as a filter for life. This series resulted in an intense Q&A session, that I was able to moderate. Finally, last week I was able to launch our new series on the book of Genesis. Please pray for this new series as we are a lot of visitors checking out the church and and we have a lot of baby Christians.

Networking . Last year the first missions organization to come to Ecuador announced that they were closing Ecuador as a field. One of the missionaries that stayed in Ecuador approached me a few months ago and asked me to meet with a leader of one of the churches that they had planted 30 years ago. This church was one of the strongest in Quito. It has been through a lot and is currently dying. Please pray for the Lord's wisdom on this. At the same time, right before getting this call, we had been praying for an opportunity to rent a local or find something not that expensive to buy. We have had a really hard time with this and are at capacity level at our current local (living room from one of the members that got saved last year) The church that we met with (the one I was speaking of above), has offered us to use their property for free.

. We wanted to ask for your prayers as BILD international is allowing us to launch an Antioch School in Ecuador. We have a cohort of 6 people that the leadership of the church has been pouring into. They will be the first to start this official training program. Our prayer is for this program to help us train leaders for our church plant and eventually to provide this program on a national level. Currently Compassion Connection has a Bible Institute and we are excited for this opportunity.

Dorm Parenting. I could write a 2 page update only on this point. It has been an area that the Lord is using majorly in our lives to stretch us and to learn to rely more on Him. We are loving being dorm parents and we are hit daily with the potential to make a difference in the lives of the kids that we have been entrusted with. From the relationship with our kids that are mature in the Lord and the opportunity to disciple them and their friends from school because of our role as "parents"; to our hearts understanding on a deeper level, of the sovereignty of God as we deal with students from other cultures that don't speak the language well, or other students asking tough questions about God and struggling with the transition. We love them a lot. We covet your prayers. Also, we have made great friendship with the student teachers that are staying at the dorm, please pray for them as they have been a great encouragement. One of them might even do a guest update in the future.

Moncayo's moving the U.S. Please pray for my family (Fernando and Dalila). The instability in Ecuador is a major reality and my dad was laid off last Friday. I am so thankful that the Lord is sovereign over all events, but it's hard to see how unfair and evil a "system" could be with the people that have served so faithfully and love their country.
I am thankful that one of the beautiful aspects of the cross, is that Jesus died to bring justice and there is a comfort in that. In the same way, there is a bigger desire in our hearts for people to know Him and put their trust on Him and not false ideas of hope.Through it all, my parents are confident that the Lord is the provider and they will be OK. Please pray for them and us in this transition. They are planning on moving to the U.S. in February and they are looking forward to spending time with my sister, her husband and little baby in CA. On a personal note, please pray for Ecuador and the "rumors" of new laws that would continue to take the liberties of many and especially heavily infringe on the freedom to worship or the type of work that we do here.

Support. Please continue to pray for us as we seek to raise support. We have been serving in Ecuador with the small stipend that the school provides, yet the last few months have been a wake up call to realize that we need to plan ahead in case something happens and that we need to be more careful and purposeful on raising support. We love Ecuador and we see the importance of the work that the Lord has for us here. Please consider partnering with us in this.

Some other prayer requests.

Children's Ministry. We are helping or teaching at "Fuentecita" the children's ministry of our church.

Chapel. We are speaking for Elementary Chapel on October the 27th.

Gospel Community Group. It meets at our house weekly. Please pray for our relationships there to continue to deepen and for opportunities to be missional to our city of Quito.

The Truth Project. We will be leading Focus on the Family's Truth project for the staff at the School. Please pray for us to encourage and have a good influence to many people in leadership in this community.

The Master's College. Please pray for us and a great group of students from TMC as we are going to be able to minister together during the Summer of 2012. Please pray for all the planning and prep work that has to happen until then.

Bendiciones desde latitud 0. We would love to hear from you!

Los Moncayos