In Memory of our Dearly Loved Brother
— Cecil Edwin Contreras —
In late March, we received word that our beloved engineer in Ecuador, Edwin Contreras, passed away.
Written by Tom Corson, SIFAT executive director
We can hardly believe that we were just standing beside you as you directed our SIFAT team building the addition at the church in Machachi two weeks ago. Today, you have gone ahead of us into the arms of God. We can only be happy for you, as you have graduated from this earthly life of pain, sickness and struggle. You have heard the Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joys of thy Lord!” But, we are sad to say goodbye because we will miss you more than words can express. We have depended on you. When we have needed you, you were there for us and for the children in the impoverished barrios of Ecuador!
Most people would have retired. Although you were sick and your body in pain, you continued to work as the hands of Christ. You felt God’s deep call to help the suffering children. You were faithful to that call until the very end of your earthly life.
I remember when we met you 23 years ago. You agreed to help SIFAT for one team, but you did so reluctantly, thinking Christians were hypocrites. You mocked us at times, trying to provoke us to make us mad. But Jesus loved you so much, He kept bringing you back each day, which gave us a chance to get to know you and to love you, too. The last night of that trip, you stood in front of everyone to read a letter that you had written, telling us that you had decided to follow Christ. We had all been praying for you each day. What joy your testimony brought us! What a climax to our week in Ecuador! From that moment on, you were part of the SIFAT family. Your thoughts, your work, everything you did centered on what you could do to help SIFAT help the children who were suffering. You even changed your name from who your old friends knew as Cecil to Edwin, similar to the apostle Paul changing his name to make a break from your old self to the new self in Christ.
We have many wonderful memories of the weeks we spent with you! You helped us so much in every aspect of our ministry. I remember one evening after a hard day’s work when the big, beautiful church building in Atucucho was almost finished. We stood together, looking down the steep hill at the church and the little shacks around it. You had tears in your eyes as you said, “Look! Look at the hundreds of children all down this hillside! They need Jesus! They need teaching. They need food and medical care. That is what they will get here. There are problems in getting this built. Why do we keep struggling to make it happen? Because of the children! We are doing it for Jesus! We can never walk away and leave them without hope!” You never did. You kept working until the very end of your life. Through pain and sickness, you kept the faith. You were there with them until death!
Who will help the children now? We are behind you, Edwin. One day we will join you up there with Jesus! But until God calls us to come, we will do our best to keep working to save the children! Your example will continue to inspire us when we are tired or facing problems! Thank you, Edwin, for all you did to help SIFAT reach the children and for the testimony you lived out before us these 23 years!
Until later! We will see you again!