While the short-term team from Susquehanna Valley EFC and El Faro EFC fixed the leaky roof on Maria’s home, she told them how depressed she had been. In the past year, Maria had attempted suicide three times.
Maria lives with her husband and two children in Dichato, Chile, in Sector 3 of El Molino (The Mill), the biggest camp of people displaced by the February 2010 earthquake and tsunami. Eighty percent of Dichato was destroyed as the tsunami surged in and out over 30 times. In Sector 3 alone of the six-sector camp, 500 people live in 115 makeshift shelters.
As Maria shared about her experience, she asked the team to pray for her depression. Afterwards Jhonna Bello, El Faro’s youth pastor, shared the gospel with her. Maria put her faith in Christ that day and immediately dove into the Spanish Bible the team had given to her.
“She started reading Psalm 141,” Susquehanna Valley Pastor Randy Hunt says. “Right away it seemed that the word of God was already speaking to her.”
Establishing a ministry in Dichato
In June, keeping their promise to return, the churches sent the first short-term mission team to work in Sector 3.
The trip objective? Restore hope one friendship at a time, while serving in practical ways as the hands and feet of Jesus –repairing and fortifying family homes as well as the Sector 3 Community Center.
Broken spirits crying out for something more
The June trip confirmed what they had discovered in the January vision trip: Many people feel hopeless and dejected. As the team saw with Maria, there is a desperate need for Christ and a supportive church.
“The ocean took a lot of materials with it, but it also took some of our spirit. Our spirit has been broken,” a woman in the camp shared with them. “You all helped us a lot with spiritual things. That was something we really needed. All the people in Dichato also need to be helped spiritually.”
“People are really hurting emotionally,” Randy says. “Many struggle with depression and don’t have any way of talking through their issues.”
Susquehanna Valley and El Faro intend to be involved for the long term. The next trip is already planned for mid-January 2012. And the two Pennsylvania churches — Susquehanna is in Harrisburg, El Faro in Lebanon — are dreaming beyond just Sector 3. They’ve formed a consortium — Mission of Hope in Chile — and are challenging other churches to adopt one of the remaining five sectors.
“Though the camp is temporary, it could last a decade, and even then its residents will very likely remain in the area,” Randy reported recently at a Mission of Hope meeting.
Currently there is no church in the camp, and Randy and the Mission of Hope team envision one day planting a healthy, reproducing church that will serve all sectors.
It’s hard for people at Susquehanna Valley and El Faro to be so far away from their new friends, especially those who are just beginning their Christian walk. However, they are exploring how they might improve communication and offer discipleship from a distance, possibly through Skype. And, while partners are not easy to find in that area of Chile, they are praying for strong partners to come alongside their work in Dichato.
[Meet Teresa, a university student in Concepción, Chile, who is serving in Dichato.]
EFCA ReachGlobal and TouchGlobal are working in partnership with Mission of Hope in Chile to provide contacts, consultation, guidance, and training.
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Bring a short-term team to Chile to help with rebuilding.
- That the Lord would continue to draw those who feel helpless and hopeless in Dichato to Him.
- For Susquehanna Valley, El Faro, Mission of Hope and ReachGlobal/TouchGlobal to have wisdom as they do God’s work in Chile.
Make an online donation to Chile earthquake relief efforts.