SANTO DOMINGO, ECUADOR (May 27, 2016) — Edgar (Eddie) Fernández traveled from Spain to Ecuador to clown with children whose families lost their homes in the earthquake that shook this country in April. It was an unlikely ministry for someone whose life journey once seemed destined for prison.
Fernández was a teenager when his mother died and his abusive father abandoned his three sons. By the age of 15, Fernández was dealing drugs and stealing cars.
Then he met Covenant missionaries Eugenio and Pia Restrepo, who were serving a church near Fernández’s town in Spain at the time. The relationship that formed eventually led Fernández to give his life to Christ, and Eugenio discipled him.
After his conversion, he grew quickly in his faith. He joined the worship team, taught guitar to Gypsy children, and later began a clowning ministry with other members of the church. Once a week they visited children being treated in the oncology ward at a local hospital.
So when Fernández heard that Restrepo, now a co-regional director of Latin America and the Caribbean for Serve Globally, had traveled to Ecuador to assess the damage following the earthquake, he told his mentor, “I want to go help. Teacher, tell me what to do, and I will go.”
However, Fernández and his wife, Mardjori, have a one-year-old daughter and little money. The Restrepos were able to find a donor to pay for his trip, and within a week Fernández had gotten his vaccines, obtained his passport, and booked a flight.
The children and families he entertained were staying at a Covenant Church of Ecuador camp in Santo Domingo. The camp had opened its facilities to quake victims from the coastal cities of Montecristi, Pedernales, and Manta.
“His goal was to use his clowning skills to entertain children and help them forget the horrors of a disaster that brought destruction, fear, and death,” Eugenio said. Fernández also is a hairstylist, so he spent much of his time cutting hair in addition to clowning.
Eugenio added, “Eddie brought happiness and hope to hundreds of kids working alongside Covenant missionaries and leaders of the Covenant Church in Ecuador to care for these little ones, just to smile, to laugh, love, and cry with them.”
After ministering for two weeks at the camp, Fernández returned to Spain last week to his part-time job providing care to the elderly.
For Eugenio, Fernández’s commitment to serve regardless of the sacrifice was yet another testament to the power of grace to transform lives beyond what he could have imagined.