When U.S. Assemblies of God missionaries Bill and Connie McDonald arrived in Cuenca, Ecuador, 12 years ago, there were only 800 evangelical Christians in this city of 500,000. The McDonalds had been assigned the task of planting a church in Cuenca.
Today, Christian Center (A/G), founded by the McDonalds, has a congregation of 1,300 and has planted 20 daughter churches throughout southern Ecuador.
Now the McDonalds are helping to start the city's first Christian television station in addition to its two public stations. By November they had raised the necessary $50,000 to secure a UHF frequency from the government communications office; 90 percent of the funds needed came from Ecuadorians. An Assemblies of God corporation in Ecuador will own the station, and its office and studio will be located at Christian Center with Bill McDonald serving as interim president.
Plans are for the station to be on the air later this year, initially broadcasting 15 hours a day. The Spanish-language, Christian programming will be provided by Spanish Television and Radio Ministries in Durant, Florida. Started in 1978 by A/G missionaries Joe and Margaret Register, STAR produces television shows for children, youth and families in Hispanic nations.
The Cuenca station will feature teaching and preaching programs, a Spanish version of The 700 Club and Christian music videos.
"Our ultimate goal for this station is to help establish new churches," Bill McDonald said. There are now approximately 7,000 evangelicals in Cuenca.
McDonald says the station will be sensitive to the conservative social customs of the region when choosing its programming. "We will accurately explain what Pentecostal beliefs represent," he said. "To be seen in an evangelical church is still taboo for the majority of families in Cuenca. Until now, we have not been able to get beyond the door in most homes, but we are praying that this Christian station will reach the families inside and find receptive hearts."