Alleviating “Poverty of Being” in Ecuador

Alleviating “Poverty of Being” in Ecuador

 Roberto and Cameron Vivanco have been serving together in Ecuador as SAMS Missionaries for over 16 years. (Cameron, 2001, Roberto, 2006)

Cameron and Roberto serve in an international non-profit Cameron started in 2009 to help children in desperate and difficult situations. This ministry resources Ecuadorian churches to come alongside children and families trapped in poverty, through micro-scholarships and other projects. The team lifts people up through wholistic assistance, empowering them in their inherent worth as people created in the image of God. Some children who have benefited from micro-scholarships are now serving their communities as interns. In addition to this work, Roberto, who is Ecuadorian, serves in music leadership, preaching, administrative, and mentoring roles at English Fellowship Church in Quito.

Cameron, Roberto, and their children visited the SAMS home office over the summer, and we got to learn more about their ministry. What they shared reiterated for me the reality that poverty affects so much more than a person’s physical circumstances. By ministering in both practical and spiritual ways to those in poverty, Christians can help people see their true worth in Christ.

“There are two types of poverty.” Cameron shared. “There is the poverty of condition. So, for example, you don’t have running water or you don’t have food to eat, or you don’t have access to medical care, or you don’t have access to education. The micro-scholarships themselves address that poverty of condition – there’s an immediate need and there’s an immediate thing that we can do that will help you get a long term developmental thing like education.

“Yet obviously poverty is more than just poverty of condition. There’s also poverty of being. Those in poverty tend to have a lower self – it’s not just self-esteem – it’s like the whole world tells them that they’re worthless and that’s why they don’t have food, or water, or housing… they’re not worth it. They’re not valuable, they’re not seen, they don’t have a voice. So, part of what we do is alleviating the physical poverty, but a huge part is just standing with those in the margin, saying ‘you are seen, you are heard, you are valuable, you have worth because you are a child of God. You and I are the same. We are children of God and we’re in this together.’ We want them to know that they matter and know that there is worth and value in them, which is the intangible….Seeing that perspective change in a person and seeing them start to take themselves seriously, which therefore makes them take their education more seriously… We’ve seen just those tiny little increments of change over and over again.”

Cameron and Roberto’s non-profit, Education Equals Hope, runs an intern program that gives ministry experience to both Ecuadorian and North American young adults (pictured above with Cameron). “In our intern program, we generally want the group to be half North American interns and half Ecuadorian interns.” Cameron explained. “The Ecuadorians are former students from our ministry sites, and we see them feel like they can ‘hold their own’ alongside college educated North Americans that have come down to Ecuador to serve.

“They live in a discipleship house together. Watching those relationships form and the Ecuadorians have that understanding that ‘I am somebody and I have something to offer’ has just been incredible. This year, two of our Ecuadorian interns are named Michelle and Erica. They came out of churches that our non-profit partners with. One of them was a micro-scholarship recipient as a child. They have now gotten to go visit four or five ministry situations – churches or families – and they always come back blown away. ‘I cannot believe what this program does and what it does for these students and how their lives are changed and how they’re transformed.’ And it’s just so exciting to get to see these interns come alive and then see their new perspectives on how the ministry is reaching into other students lives.”

“Another intern this summer, Marvin, one of our first students, came up through the program and actually graduated valedictorian of his high school. A specific donor said ‘I want to send him to college’. He just graduated from one of the top universities in Ecuador with a degree in sound engineering, and has now been hired by the Christian radio station to work there. He asked for two months off from them to come intern with us for the summer, because he wanted to give back and be in that community again that that helped him change the trajectory of his life. Now he’s a youth minister in one of the Ecuadorian churches that partners with our ministry. It’s just a really, really fun community.”

If you interested in serving in Ecuador with Cameron and Roberto’s ministry as an intern, please contact Nita Dempsey at to learn more about the SAMS Missionary Bridger internship program. 


SAMS at New Wineskins: A Global Family Reunion!

SAMS at New Wineskins: A Global Family Reunion!

Several hundred Missionaries and Senders gathered at Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina in September for the SAMS All-Society Retreat, several pre-conferences, the SAMS Celebration Dinner and Reception, and New Wineskins Global Mission Conference!

The All-Society Retreat (Monday evening through Wednesday evening) was a time of refreshment and rejuvenation for Missionaries, alongside Senders who joined the event. At the retreat, music ministers Chris and Elise Massa, of Church of the Ascension in Pittsburgh, PA, gave four plenary talks on connecting with God through the arts. Missionaries spent time praying through God’s Word and artistic forms (visual art, poetry, and music). Chris and Elise led morning, noon, and evening prayer, including Elise’s original musical settings of prayers from The Book of Common Prayer. Elise also shared a concert of her own folk music reflecting on the human condition and God’s work in the world. Visual artist Amy Foster served in intercessory prayer and facilitated a prayer room where retreat attendees could prayerfully create their own art. Bishop Trevor and Dede Walters, Fr. Dick Copeland, and former missionaries Nick and Kathryn Kircher were present to provide pastoral care to Missionaries. Small groups met four times over two days, providing space for Missionaries and Senders to share their joys and burdens with each other, and to pray together. A service of Holy Eucharist closed the retreat with the Rev. Canon John Cruikshank celebrating and the Rt. Rev. Trevor Walters preaching.

More friends of SAMS, old and new, gathered at the Celebration Reception and Dinner on Thursday to learn of the work God is doing around the world. Attendees received complimentary books signed by Missionary authors, and Missionaries representing five continents shared stories of God’s work in Kenya, The Netherlands, Indonesia, Ecuador, and among immigrants in the United States. This was followed by a meaningful time of prayer around each table.

At the New Wineskins Global Mission Conference, SAMS joined several other Anglican mission societies and organizations to learn from over a hundred speakers and come alongside individuals and families discerning God’s role for them in His mission. What a joy it was to share in Eucharist on Sunday morning, worshiping with clergy and laypeople from around the world! Sarah Kwolek, New Wineskins board member, says, “it was a delight to see so many Anglicans engaging with God’s mission around the world, including over 1600 participants in person at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in Black Mountain, NC, and over 400 participants live-streaming the plenary events and MAP talks each day.”

Through events like these, your financial support of the SAMS Great Commission Fund helps provide pastoral care, useful resources for ministry, and training for Missionaries, enabling and strengthening their ongoing work in God’s Kingdom. These events also foster the global relationships necessary for Christ’s church around the world to work together making disciples of all nations. Thank you for partnering with us to see “a global Anglican family walking together in the way of Jesus to spread Kingdom change throughout our communities” (SAMS Vision).

Click through this photo gallery from SAMS’ week at Ridgecrest! Many thanks to Kevin Patterson for his ministry in capturing these moments of communal care, prayer, and training for Missionaries serving the Lord.

The Fall 2022/Winter 2023 Edition of The Messenger with Prayer Calendar is here!

The Fall 2022/Winter 2023 Edition of The Messenger with Prayer Calendar is here!

The newest edition of The Messenger & Prayer Calendar is here with stories of our global community in Christ and His mission.

In this issue:

    • Multiplying the missional capacity of the global church
    • A Thai church mentors young American missionaries as they participate in outreach to the Buddhist community
    • Miraculous hope spreads globally from Chile, in spite of pandemic lockdown
    • Prayer Calendar for Fall 2022/Winter 2023
    • New Missionary Candidates
    • A Sender who goes the extra mile
    • An invitation to New Wineskins Global Missions Conference, September 22-25, 2022!

Click this button to read it and join us in prayer!

Tamana: A Book Review and Invitation

This post is in a series of book reviews highlighting works by SAMS missionaries. These books will be available at our SAMS Dinner in September!  You won’t want to miss it!

TAMANA: At Home in Africa

Written by Patricia McGregor, Associate Missionary
Reviewed by Kate Ulrich, SAMS Communications Coordinator

This memoir of Patricia (Patsy) McGregor’s return to Madagascar with her husband, Todd, to plant the Diocese of Toliara (“TOO-liar”) describes Patsy’s difficult journey to find God’s purpose for her in an impoverished community. She organizes her experiences according to a Celtic model of evangelism which aided her: go to the people, live among them, learn from them, love them, start with what they know, and build on what they are. The stories of the Malagasy people, their rich, community-centered culture, and their prayerful thirst for God’s word will give you a new perspective on Christ’s church. Patsy’s story of becoming tamana – happily settled, at home – in Madagascar, will expand your imagination for how God can shepherd you in His kingdom, and what it truly means to be home.

Tamana: At Home in Africa is Patricia McGregor’s third of four memoirs. Be sure to check them out at our book signing event (details below)!

Thursday September 22, 2022
Ridgecrest Conference Center

(Reception and book signing are in the room on the left and dinner is in the room on the right. Signs will clearly mark each event.)

4:00 PM reception where you can meet missionary authors and receive signed books.
This will be followed by dinner and special guest speakers. The event will end at 6:45pm.

The whole event, including the books, is complimentary! You may donate as you feel led to partner in the ministry of SAMS.
We look forward to visiting with you!

Immediately preceding:
The New Wineskins Global Missions Conference
September 22-25, 2022

Questions? Email