Al and Connie McElheran
Honduras & Ecuador
Al and Connie graduated from New Tribes Bible Institute in 1967 and headed to Ecuador as missionaries. Al started as a recording engineer for Back to the Bible Ministry, then went on to HCJB in Quito, where he worked as director for medical caravans and then as director for community development. As a veteran missionary for over 30 years in Ecuador, Al’s first love has been taking the gospel to nationals in the Andes Mountain communities and the remote Amazon jungles through medical missions. In 1993 Al joined Impact Ministries and began a ministry on the largest river in Ecuador, the Napo. During Al and Connie’s years in Ecuador, Al built a Bible-teaching seminary on the river. He opened nine communities on the river to the gospel and trained nationals to take over and lead the ministries.
With the support of Impact Ministries and Fellowship Bible Church, we began the challenge of opening an office of family support 16 years ago. Our team consists of professionals in clinical and educational psychology, systemic family therapy and family counseling. In our country rates of divorce, abuse, and infidelity are alarming. This triggers gain in the depression and psychosomatic diseases. Children are affected by these situations, which results in high rates of alcohol and drug consumption, mainly in adolescence, as well as improper handling of sexuality. Acceptance of unhealthy life patterns is increasingly common, so family welfare is at risk.
In Quito, Ecuador, special needs children get marginalized – hidden and neglected by families who feel overwhelmed or needless shame. But in the early 1990s, Elena Vasconez – young and disabled herself — developed a partial solution to this problem. The Lord gave her a vision for a special program that would offer help, activities and encouragement to Ecuador’s poor, disabled children. Summer camps designed just for these special kids – That’s how Camp Hope began in 1993. By 1995, Elena recognized the need for a day care center — a safe place where poor parents could leave handicapped children during the day so they could work. The day care grew and started providing physical therapy, schooling and meals.