Wilmore’s Jennifer Riggs has many passions. First and foremost is her passion for Jesus Christ; a love for children is not far down on the list.
In May 2011, Riggs, 29, a 2005 graduate of Asbury University, took a leap of faith to help satisfy her passions by moving to Ecuador to become a missionary with OMS (One Mission Society) International.
Since arriving in Loja, Ecuador, Riggs established Ricon de Aventuras, Adventure Corner in English. That ministry also developed an in-home church in August 2011.
“Shortly after I arrived in Loja, Mark and Nube Vogan (Other OMS missionaries) and I felt God leading us to start a house church in our neighborhood,” Riggs said in an e-mail interview. “As a way to get it started, we had VBS (Vacation Bible School) last summer. We invited many kids and had about 40 kids show up.”
From that, Adventure Corner was born.
“In the fall, I had about 12 kids coming on a regular basis,” Riggs said. “Since December, we have had about 25-30 kids coming.”
And the message of Christ — through Adventure Corner — is going forth, Riggs said.
“I had a mom of one of the girls tell me that she has heard the kids on the street talking about what they have been learning at Adventure Corner,” she said.
In a year’s time, Riggs said at least 10 children have given their lives to Christ.
“I have seen lives of others change a lot; it could be that they have too (accepted Christ) and just haven’t let me know,” Riggs said.
Investing in others
Riggs told of a family whose father was an alcoholic and routinely beat his children and a mother who was emotionally absent, and how Christ is working in their lives.
“The kids would pray for three things every week: that Dad would stop getting drunk, Mom would get better, and that they would have their own house (which they now live in).”
The biggest news, Riggs said, made her cry.
“One day, I got a phone call from the other missionaries, and she said, ‘Christian (the oldest brother) came to ask me how to accept Jesus as his Savior,’” Riggs said. “I had been investing so much with those kids, twice a week, that hearing that good news, all I could do was cry.”
Riggs said one of the many requirements of being a missionary is simply spending time with children and their families.
She told another story about 7-year-old Karen who came to Adventure Corner.
“When she got home she told her parents about the things she learned that day,” Riggs said. “The dad didn’t like it too much because it didn’t agree with what he and his wife believed. The mom said that it was good for Karen to go because it gave her a chance to get out of the house, play with other kids and it wouldn’t matter too much that they believed differently. So, Karen kept coming. As a result mom started reading the Bible to see for herself what it said. As she found interesting things, she would read sections to her husband. They started reading the Bible together every night. The Vogans now go and visit them once a week to teach them about the Bible; sometimes they come to church, and the mom comes to the women’s Bible study group on a regular basis. The whole family is turning around just because their daughter came to Adventure Corner.”
Moving to Ecuador meant giving up many things most people in U.S. take for granted.
“Since moving into my apartment in August, I have to heat water on the stove and take a bucket shower — otherwise, it is a freezing-cold shower,” Riggs said. “I often don’t have water certain times of the day (or sometimes no water for a couple of days), and so I have some containers that I fill up for emergencies — and learning when the water will be on to wash clothes and dishes. Sometimes other things get canceled just because all of a sudden I have water and I have to use it when it is available.”