What’s your perspective on the Latin world? It may depend on how close you are to it. ReachGlobal Latin America/Caribbean has the privilege to work on the street level — to see the vibrance, beauty and hope as well as the great needs. We have the opportunity to show the love of Jesus to the Latin and Caribbean people.
Cross-cultural missions will change your perspective and your heart as you experience the people and the ministry on the street level. How will you engage in God’s work among all people?
Having trouble viewing the video? See it on YouTubeor Vimeo.
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“Ministry at Street Level” is part of the Moving Latin America Pictures project. It is the fifth of five videos produced by a short-term mission team of videographers to capture the essence of the ministry and the needs on the field. Please take the time to check out the other four videos featuring our ministry in Brazil, Costa Rica, Haiti and Mexico.
View a few of our service opportunities online. However, the needs are much greater, and God can use YOUR gifting and passions to serve the nations. Contact us to inquire about serving in Latin America or the Caribbean.
For the millions of people in Latin America and the Caribbean who do not know Jesus Christ as their Savior.
For the leaders in the Church, that they would receive the equipping and training needed to help impact their people with the transformational power of the gospel.
That God would raise up workers for the harvest in Latin America and the Caribbean. Pray to see how He might be calling you.
For the Pennsylvanian churches that comprise the Mission of Hope in Chile consortium, working with partners on the ground is key to the long-term success of their mission to bring hope to the people and ultimately plant a church in the displaced people’s camp in Dichato.
No formal partnerships have formed yet, but some important friendships have begun to develop.
One of those friends is Teresa Sanhueza, a university student from Concepción (an hour south of Dichato) who trained with YWAM and now ministers to the youth in her local church.
“I completely fell in love with the place and people,” Teresa says of her work in Dichato. “It was the most beaten up by the earthquake of 2010, and I became involved in Dichato by the invitation of Pastor Randy [from Susquehanna Valley EFC]. Through contacts, we met and we talked about the project.”
Teresa enjoyed working alongside the Pennsylvanians while they were in Chile in June. However, she continues to serve in the displaced people’s camp regularly. She has even brought the youth group from her church in Concepción to visit the camp.
“We make friends, chatting with the youth and children,” she explains. “Not just talking, but playing and giving love to them.” Teresa also brings her guitar so they can worship together — youth from Concepción with those from Dichato.
It’s relationships with those young people that keep Teresa motivated to keep making the trek from Concepción to Dichato.
“I asked a small group of young people, ‘What or who is God to you?’” Teresa says. “Generally, the youth at my church in Concepción answer me, ‘He is my life, my all, my best friend, the Lord of Lords, the Almighty…’
“Perhaps I had become accustomed to hearing that answer, but that day in Dichato was different. The response of these young people was silence… nothing,” she says. “They had no words, and not because they were moved, but because God is really nothing for them. He is not important.
“Now they already know a little more of God. I know I need to spend more time at camp, but I see growth, perhaps a kinder love between them. I’m glad.”
Maybe this resonates so deeply with Teresa because she remembers her own story and a time when she thought little of God.
After walking away from the church as a young teenager and rebelling against God and her parents, Teresa was reintroduced to Jesus as her savior a year after starting college.
“At that moment, I decided that I would live my life for God… but it wasn´t as easy as I thought it would be,” Teresa says. “I had a reputation at my college that was harder to restore than I anticipated. There were people of my past who didn´t believe in me. They thought I was crazy for thinking that from one day to another I could change my life and decide to live for Christ.”
But Teresa has experienced personally how God can change one life — how God can go from nothing to everything just overnight.
That’s what Teresa and Mission of Hope pray will happen with the youth (and adults) in Dichato.
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.”
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.”
Long-term commitment and dreams
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.
With no work available, Paula cooks empanadas and sells what she can to scrape by. “I go to bed each night exhausted, wondering how I’m going to get through the next day,” she confided as she shared her story with me last week. We were talking in a small group at a displaced people’s camp in Chile where Paula (a single mom with three young children) now lives.
Almost a year ago, the coast of Chile was rocked by a powerful 8.8 magnitude earthquake which thrust an eight foot high tsunami wave against the coastal areas near Concepcion. The earthquake, though much more powerful than the one that devastated Haiti, did not cause near the mass devastation we saw in Haiti, and there was a quick response by the Chilean government.
At that time, TouchGlobal Crisis Response, in consultation with ReachGlobal Latin America, decided not to respond immediately to the event for several reasons, but primarily because we had no missionally-aligned partner relationships in Chile – that is, partners with long-term vision for the Great Commission’s role in the recovery following a crisis.
Yet, God was working from another angle.
About 30 years earlier, God made Himself known to a young teen, Hugo Concha, in Talcahuano, Chile, near Concepcion. Over the years, God developed a vision in Hugo for a church-planting movement in Chile. When the earthquake struck, Hugo, now the pastor of El Faro Evangelical Free Church (Lebanon, PA), felt compelled to respond to the needs in his hometown. Shortly after the earthquake, in March 2010, he took a small team and some relief supplies to do what he could. He returned to Pennsylvania with a resolve to go back to Chile to make a kingdom difference.
God then connected Hugo with other EFCA churches in Pennsylvania and with TouchGlobal and ReachGlobal to follow the Lord in moving forward with this vision.
Now, almost a year later, this vision and a desire to serve where God is moving, brought our small group of representatives from the EFCA in Pennsylvania, TouchGlobal and ReachGlobal to Chile. And, with a short prayer to God for His leading during this time, we found ourselves in the displaced people’s camp, listening to Paula’s story.
Paula leads a group of about 100 families scattered throughout several camps – camps filled with thousands of people who have lost their homes and most of their possessions. She doesn’t hide that she is cold to religion, but she also expresses a real hunger and desire for caring relationships in her life.
All but forgotten by the Chilean government, aid organizations and the local churches, most of the Chileans we met shared Paula’s sour taste for religion. Yet a common need and desire for relationships, for caring hands to help and compassionate hearts to listen and hear, resounded in each person’s story.
We saw the start of efforts to meet that need for relationship and care in a Chilean couple, Yamil and Mylena. As they come to the region to make disciples and plant churches, we are also praying for God’s direction as we seek to come alongside them.
Story shared by Mark, Director of TouchGlobal Crisis Response, following a vision trip to Chile in late January 2011.