This baby was born two days after the tsunami destroyed her family’s home.
Camping out on destroyed homesite.
Maximo describes how 25 foot wave destroyed his home.
Pastor Luis Alvarado with neighbors inside their tsunami-ruined house.
Pastor Isaias Sanchez surveys damage to church.
Thousands of traditional adobe houses were destroyed.
It’s Not About Us
Our original idea was to return to Chile on Feb. 26, which would have put us here for the earthquake on our first day. A series of circumstances made that date impossible, so our next option was March 2, but that flight was canceled. We are inclined to believe that God let us come back on March 16, two weeks after the earthquake, not really to spare us, but to let us know that this is not about us. Our calling is to accompany people devastated by the earthquake and tsunami, care for them and help them rebuild their lives.
This first report tells you about the impressive relief work our partner, the National Baptist Convention of Chile, is already doing with their own resources, and how International Ministries is coming alongside them, combining resources to help people recover.
What We’ve Seen
Isaac Venegas and Nidia Alvarado are the co-pastors of the Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) Baptist Church in Chillan. They and their four daughters are sleeping outside in tents, a month now after the earthquake, because of the imminent danger of the parsonage's collapse. Indeed, thousands of families are in similar circumstances, waiting for adequate solutions to the need for safe housing.
Dwight just returned from a five day tour to assess the damage in Concepcion and in Cerro Verde, a community hit by the tsunami. He also went to the cities of Talca, Curico and Chillan where our churches were seriously damaged. Pastors Lord Merino, Tomas Vivanco and the convention president, Mario Ramos, accompanied him.
In Cerro Verde alone, the earthquake and tsunami destroyed the homes of over 125 families. Multiply that 1,000 times to understand the impact on 200 miles of Chilean coastal villages and surrounding areas. Fishing boats and fish processing plants were wiped out. The port is contaminated with raw sewage, so it will be months before fishing will be allowed, even if they had boats. Water still must be trucked in.
Many homes and businesses may look fine on the outside but have suffered structural damages that require demolition. The church in Talca sustained damages to three walls and they must decide whether to repair them or simply demolish the building. The church in Los Angeles also has a damaged wall that must be replaced. The church and parsonage in Chillan are severely damaged. All the supporting pillars are cracked, and the roofs are not supported soundly. All the walls must be replaced.
Cost estimates for the repair work will be gathered, and the urgent repair work will begin immediately.
What Can We Do? An Immediate-Term Strategy
Within a week of the earthquake and tsunami, churches in the National Baptist Convention collected over $2,000, which is a considerable amount in this context. Over two consecutive weekends they took caravans of trucks bearing food, clothes, water and personal care items to churches in the affected areas to minister to needs in the communities. Churches in the south are committed to a campaign using their own resources to assemble food and hygiene kits for transport to the communities most in need. Also, the Mapuche churches and other churches in the south are prepared to send teams to help people demolish their homes, salvage materials, repair homes, or winterize mediaguas.
Using the $20,000 from the One Great Hour of Sharing- Chile Earthquake Relief funds, Relief funds, and in coordination with the $25,000 which the National Baptist Convention received from the Baptist World Alliance, we are focusing on:
(1) supplying food and hygiene kits to the most vulnerable communities we can reach, from the church and community of Cerro Verde outwards and,
(2) We will collaborate with the Convention on the urgent need to repair the church buildings.
(3) Much more is needed for families as winter approaches, such as blankets, bedding, and adequate housing, even if only provisional, such as mediaguas and winterizing improvements to them.
An Urgent Need – Please Join Us