Bible translation facility destroyed in quake

By March 29, 2010

Chile (MNN) — The first of Chile's damage estimates are in. The government estimates damages at around $30 billion. Recovery could take up to four years.

Bruce Smith, President and CEO of
Wycliffe Associates, says their work was temporarily disrupted by the devastating effects of the quake.

"Primary damage was in the Santiago area, but just down the coast a little ways is the city of Concepción," says Smith. "That's where our partners in Bible translation's offices were completely destroyed."

The city of Concepción has been declared a national emergency zone. The entire region is suffering due to communication and transportation barriers. Some houses of Bible translators were damaged, but thankfully all personnel have been kept safe.

The reconstruction process for the translation center will not be easy. Wycliffe responded with some immediate aid for the offices, but complete reconstruction will take time and money.

"We responded initially with about $25,000 to help them make an initial response to their situation," says Smith. "But it's going to require long-term reconstruction and it's going to depend on donors and partners participating to help them rebuild in that arena."

Bible translation has been underway in Chile for over 50 years, so Smith says they're really in the final stages. The work that needs to be done to put final translations into written and audio forms for distribution has been put on hold by the quake. Of course, distribution is what will bring the Scriptures to the people of the region who are waiting to experience the Gospel in their own languages.

Smith urges people not to forget the real stories behind the news that they hear from Chile. There are many stories like that of Andres Casanueva, who works with Wycliffe partner Faith Come by Hearing; he was spared in the quake but has seen the effects of damage to his home. The mess in the aftermath of the quake will not go away quickly.

This is, however, an opportunity for outreach. For one thing, it "is another opportunity for people with construction skills and experience to be part of this response," notes Smith.

As temperatures decrease and rains start in the south of the country, pray that the people of Chile would be safe from further devastation. Give thanks to God for the protection of Bible translators and affiliates such as Andres Casanueva. Pray that God's people in Chile and outside of it would respond in a way that lifts up His Name.

Pray also that reconstruction would go quickly so that Bible translation work can continue and the Gospel finally reach many in their heart languages.

If you would like to help Wycliffe Associates financially in this rebuilding process, click here. We'll keep you posted on opportunities to help rebuild.


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