Local Missionaries in Chile
Clinging to the Pacific coast of South America, Chile presents some of the most dramatically beautiful scenery on the continent, from the heights of the Andes to the glaciers in the south. It also lays claim to the famous Easter Island and rims the Ring of Fire with more than three dozen active volcanoes.
Chile has gained international attention as one of the most stable and prosperous countries in Latin America. It has slashed its poverty rate over the last two decades; nevertheless, a wide gap remains between the poor and the wealthy.
The Mapuche, the country’s largest indigenous group, make up nearly 10 percent of the population and inhabit the southern regions of Chile. After several centuries of successful resistance to Spanish conquest, their land was confiscated, and most were marginalized to miserable reservations. Many fled to urban centers to scrape together a new life but met with unemployment and discrimination. Today they remain some of the poorest in the country and suffer some of the highest unemployment rates. They continue to protest for their land rights, but violent protests in recent years have escalated tensions with the government.
The Mapuche widely hold to traditional animistic beliefs and have a “machi,” a type of witchdoctor, for each villa. Others are Roman Catholic, although mostly nominally so. They were almost entirely unreached nearly 50 years ago when a native church-planting ministry formed out of compassion for suffering and destitute people in Chile.
Help and Hope in the Name of Jesus
Sometimes traveling over a hundred miles from the nearest town to remote Mapuche villages in the Andes, native missionaries share the gospel and give food, clothing and medical supplies to those most in need. They walk for miles from house to house to invite people to evangelistic outreaches, where they share the message of Christ and hand out gospel tracts. Through this outreach, as well as through joyful musical parades accompanied by preaching, the Lord has touched the hearts of many.
Small congregations sprout from handfuls of new believers, and children begin attending Sunday schools. The ministry provides Bible training for local ministry leaders as they attend to the spiritual needs of the communities they are assigned to. The ministry has also taken on sponsor children and provides regular food supplies to help families who are unable to provide for their children’s basic needs.
Their work is done in the name of Jesus Christ, and as His gospel transforms hearts, people are freed from depression, families are reconciled, and Mapuche believers share the hope of Christ with their neighbors.
Sources: Joshua Project, CIA World Factbook, Human Rights Watch
How to Pray for
- Pray that the gospel of Christ would spread throughout the Mapuche people, bringing peace and hope amid social unrest.
- Pray for new believers in church plants to grow in their faith, in the knowledge of God’s Word, and in fruitfulness.
- Pray that God would call more gospel workers from among the Mapuche to reach their own people for Christ.
- Pray for the wisdom and resources needed for this ministry to continue its outreach, including living allowances and transportation for their missionaries and support for the children they sponsor.
More stories from Chile
Depressed since her marriage started to sour a few years ago, 32-year-old Ximena Flores suffered steady deterioration of her mental health, cementing her husband’s desire for separation. A schoolteacher with a 5-year-old daughter, Flores’ condition worsened when the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to teach online from home – where the sources of stress and conflict overlapped with work challenges. “Someone told me that there was another teacher who was a Christian and could help me,” Flores said. “She told me Jesus is the answer, and I said, ‘How?’”
The director of a ministry based in Chile had already seen thousands of people in need, including pastors without income in churches his ministry had planted, when he learned that five people in one church were infected with the novel coronavirus.
Then he received more bad news.
“I was just told that a young church couple has COVID-19, and the wife in this family is six months pregnant,” he said.