Neal helps lead global mission efforts in visits to Ecuador
By Anna Goodwin McCarthy
Saturday, July 14, 2018
Global outreach is Lana Neal’s passion, and this week she embarked on her 17th mission trip to Ecuador.
Neal, leadership development pastor at Forest Park Church, works with a global outreach team of volunteers to provide educational, medical and construction services in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Neal said she and her husband, Scott, lead pastor at Forest Park Church, have both participated and led outreach missions to Ecuador each year for the past 17 years.
“We have made lifelong friendships,” Neal said.
The mission trips usually last a week and include volunteers from both the United States and Ecuador. Before going on the trip, Neal meets with volunteers at the church to prepare.
“There is poverty like they have never seen,” Neal said, referring to the volunteers. “There are areas that do not have running water.”
While Neal said while the missions to Ecuador are short, they are very effective, including for the volunteers.
“It is a catalyst for growth in their own life,” she said.
Neal said planning and coordinating the missions is a continual year-long process.
During last year’s trip to Ecuador, Neal said more than 13,000 Ecuadorian children attended the open-air assemblies coordinated by the school outreach team during its week-long stay. The school outreach team uses videos with Spanish music, which communicates a message through music and movement. Neal is fluent in both Spanish and sign language, communication skills that come in handy with the people she meets in Ecuador.
The medical outreach team, which includes volunteer nurses and physicians, will see more than 2,000 people who need medical treatment in Ecuador. Neal said volunteers met at Forest Park Church to assemble care packages that include 250,000 pills. Each of the estimated 2,000 people who see the medical outreach team will receive a care package that includes vitamins, pain relievers and an antiparasitic medication.
One of the main goals of the construction team is water purification. This year the team plans to install eight water purification systems in Guayaquil.
Originally from Beulaville, Neal said her faith and desire to help others began at a young age. Neal said her parents were “devoted followers of Christ.”
“I have always loved people,” said Neal, who previously worked with the N.C. Division of Child Development and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
Neal enjoys spending time with her husband and their son, Evan Neal, daughters, Camryn Neal and Ashlyn Josephson, and son-in-law, Josh Josephson.
Expanding her mission work, Neal was the opening speaker at the Watoto Educational Summit in Uganda in Africa in June.
Neal looks forward to continuing her global outreach efforts.
“It makes me feel good to know I have been a small part in their story,” said Neal.
For more information about Forest Park Church’s Global Outreach visit the church’s website at https://fplive.org/.