Galapagos Islands Turning From Evolution Roots

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The Galapagos Islands became famous after a visit by English naturalist Charles Darwin in 1835. 

Darwin believed the islands' unusual collection of plant and animal species supported the theory of evolution he proposed in his "origin of species" book. 

Yet, on the very islands where God's existence was put in doubt, there's now a growing move toward God.

For Galapagos resident and tour guide Felix Reyes, the islands provide evidence for a different story to evolution.

On his tours, Reyes described some of the islands' more than 2,300 plant and animal species.  Among them, the Galapagos turtles, which live to 100 years or more.

Reyes is one of many islanders who've recently come to faith in God through the expanding influence of Galapagos churches.  Missionaries from Central and North America are part of the reason for that growth. 

Bill McDonald started a church planting project on the islands 15 years ago. 

"We began evangelizing Isabella Island, 2,000 people," he recalled.  "We now have a pastor from this church established there."

"Then we went to San Cristobal island, the capital of Galapagos, some 5,000 people," he added.  "We now have a lovely church established there.  Now we're trying to raise a work in Floreana."

Missionary construction teams have provided auditoriums and classrooms for the growing congregations.  

"It's a pleasure to be able to serve the church, the local church, to be able to see it established and to spread the gospel," one missionary said.

"It's very hard to describe the feeling that you get, that the Lord has a purpose for your life," Domenic Oldon, another missionary, said.  "It's just incredible."

The missionary focus hasn't been lost on Galapagos believers, who would like to make their islands famous for something besides evolution.

"We are together in heart and will, so that this mission can expand to the whole world," said resident Manuel Cardenas.

McDonald's next construction project includes six classrooms, which will be used by children during the day, and for training future pastors and missionaries by night.

Original Broadcast Date: September 18, 2009. 

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Stan Jeter

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CBN News Senior Producer Stan Jeter specializes in Christian news and Latin American coverage.  He has lived and worked for many years in South and Central America, most recently developing the Spanish Christian news program, Mundo Cristiano.  Follow Stan on Twitter @StanJeterNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/StanJeterCBN.