IMB volunteers have served thousands at year mark of Chile quake

By March 2, 2011

Chile (MNN) — God has done it again. He's made a terrible situation bearable…maybe even good.

Just over a year ago, in the wake of a murderous earthquake in Haiti, Chile was struck by one of the most powerful earthquakes on record. The disaster combined with the subsequent tsunami killed 524 people and left thousands homeless.

Immediately after the turmoil hit, Southern Baptists were on the scene. The International Mission Board sent funds, helping hands, and immediate aid right away, but their assistance was far from over.

Over the last year, the hearts that Southern Baptists have shown for the shaken people of Chile has been remarkable. IMB reports that over 350 temporary shelters have been built for use as homes and schoolrooms, at least 150,000 meals have been prepared, and 3,000 Chileans have been trained in crisis counseling techniques at the hands of missionaries and short-term volunteers involved.

A school that suffered severe damage was even reconstructed in the form of 10 temporary shelters by California Baptist volunteers and fathers of school children.

The depth of these volunteers' service has been great. After the quake left one family's house in shambles, local officials deemed it uninhabitable and asked the family to move out. When an IMB missionary realized the family had nowhere to go, however, he contacted some California Baptist volunteers.

The volunteers had been planning to build temporary shelters while in Chile, but when they heard about the family, they decided to rebuild the home. With the help of the family's father, the team worked 14-hour days and rebuilt the home in seven days. The father gave his life to Christ the day the work was completed.

In the wake of disaster, many others have also given their lives to the constant and unchanging Savior. Children in the previously mentioned school were given Bibles, families have joined churches, and others have fallen on their knees in reverence to God when they saw the tangible love of Christ lived out as someone built a home for them.

As if that were not worthy enough of praise, the year of work has built partnerships between several American and Chilean churches, as Southern Baptists in the States have reached out to suffering congregations in Chile. What may have started as simple ways to help have grown into steady and unifying friendships between brothers and sisters in the faith.

There is still work to be done in Chile, and the damage is not all repaired. Pray that God would use these partnerships to continue strengthening the church in Chile and building God's Kingdom in the country. May God continue to turn what seemed a year ago to be pure destruction into redemptive healing and transformation.

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