These past two weeks Christina and It took some vacation time to visit our newly married daughter and son-in-law in Valdivia, Chile. While this was really a personal/family trip I still wanted to share with you some highlights from our travels.
We may have taken a vacation from some of our main ministry responsibilities, but we didn’t take a vacation from our calling in Christ! During our time in Chile we were able to connect with several churches and church leaders, we were also able to speak in a few different churches and share about our ministry in Ukraine.
Seattle to Chile
Christina did a few vlogs as we traveled, I’ll include those in this report.
The Sunday just before we flew out we had the privilege of speaking at Open Door Baptist Church in Burien, Wa. It was our first time to visit this church and we were blest with their warm reception, heartfelt worship, and genuine interest in the ministry in Ukraine.
Pastor Rich Dover has a great heart to minister to those who trapped by addictions. We heard and amazing testimony of how one man came to church and broke into one of the rooms and stole items to support his addiction. Later he came to faith in Christ through the outreach of Seattle Open Door Church. Now he actively takes part in ministry and testifies of how Jesus changed his life!
We need more churches like this that pursue God’s best even in people whom our society has already given up on!
After the service on Sunday morning Christina and I had lunch with my brother Elijah who lives in Seattle and then we headed up to Mt. Vernon to visit some supporters.
Our tickets to Chile were from Vancouver Canada because they were cheaper than anything we could find flying out of Seattle. Around 8:30 pm we were on the road again for the Vancouver where we would fly out the next day.
We flew into Santiago around 10pm on Tuesday night. ABWE missionaries Nick and Bekah Ecker very generously offered to pick us up at the airport and to stay at their place.
The following day Nick took us downtown for a little tour of the historic center. We enjoyed the hot weather and a taste of Chilean completo.
Plaza de Armas in downtown Santiago.
We also briefly toured ABWE’s Theological training school in Santiago and in the evening shared our ministry at a small Baptist church in the Southern part of Santiago.
Although our time in Santiago was short, the chance to connect with other missionaries was invaluable. I don’t think it matters where in the world you serve, missionaries tend to understand each other and share many common experiences. We enjoyed getting to know the Eckers and hearing about their ministry and plans for serving God.
Thanksgiving in Valdivia
We hopped on our flight down to Valdivia on Thanksgiving morning. Valdivia lies about 530 miles south of Santiago, not far from where Chilean Patagonia begins. The entire flight down was one long string of mountains on our left and shoreline on our right.
As we approached Valdivia we were impressed with how green it was. Between the rolling hill of trees are green fields, many of them and all of them surrounded by trees. Many fields also had a large tree here and there growing right in the middle of them.
Naomi met us at the airport and we went straight to the house where we enjoyed a much looked forward to Thanksgiving dinner with our new Chilean family.
It was truly a time to be thankful for how God had led our family and Naomi and Jorge together! This was the first Thanksgiving in South America for everyone at the table except for me, I celebrated Thanksgiving in Brazil in 1995.
The day after Thanksgiving we took some time to explore Valdivia.
The city is located along the banks of the Valdivia river and just about 10 miles from the shore of the Pacific Ocean. About 130,000 people live here but the city has a real small town feel due to the fact that there’s almost no buildings over 5 stories except for the icon hotel downtown.
Valdivia has wet and cool climate, even the summer it rarely sees temperatures over 80F/26C. We noticed that although it was warm during the day, as soon as the sun went down the ocean breeze came in and quickly dropped the temperature and made us all reach for our jackets.
Valdivia is also known for the Valdivian earthquake on May 22, 1960 which lasted for about 10 minutes and was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded!
Valdivia is a university town with 3 good sized schools. We took to explore the campus of Universidad Austral de Chile, which is located on an island just across the river from downtown Valdivia. Here they have beautiful botanical gardens and a very large arboretum.
Jorge went to school here and it was here that he came in contact with campus ministry group where he heard about Christ and believed.
While walking around Valdivia we noticed that Chile still has some communistic currents flowing through it. Communism was violently put down in the 1970s by dictatorial leadership of Augusto Pinochet. The graffiti on the fence in the picture above reads
“40 years after the coup we continue fighting for socialism and freedom”
Election season is now underway and this December Chileans will vote for a new president.
Beyond the political there’s the religious aspects of Chile. Around 70% consider themselves Catholic many of whom are nominal. Small roadside altars like this one are common. They are erected in memory of loved one who died. If you have a problem you can pray to the dead person in hopes that he will answer your prayers.
This above altar is to someone named Bertita. The plaques affixed to the side of the altar are from people who prayed to Bertita and their prayers were answered. Most say something like”
“Thank you Bertita -your devotee”
It is sad that people are so deceived thinking they must pray to the dead instead of to the living God.
Trip to Mocho Choshuenco
Chile is a land of mountains and sea-coast. We had the opportunity to take a quick visit to lake Panguipulli and the Mocho Choshuenco Volcano located about 3 hours east of Valdivia
Chile’s mountains and volcanoes are beyond impressive. From the air it look like nice pinches of salt spaced nearly evenly from North to South.
Within three hours from Valdivia are 3 active volcanoes. Osorno is the most active in all of South America erupting as recently as 2015.
We thanked God for the beautiful weather and time to enjoy some unique parts of His creation.
At the foot of the volcano is Huilo-Huilo rainforest and nature preserve.
The waterfall here was simply breathtaking.
Our first Sunday in Valdivia we visited Jorge’s house church. Christina and I shared about our ministry in Ukraine. I believe exposing churches to churches in other cultures and how they work can be very healthy.
Of course, they don’t get a lot of Ukrainian missionaries down in Southern Chile, so they were eager to hear about how the Church functions in Ukraine.
On our 2nd Sunday we visit Christian Center Church in the morning. Earlier that week I sat down with their pastor and conducted a detailed interview about how their church functions, how they do evangelism, and what kind of problems they face. I wanted to get a better idea of the condition of churches here in Valdivia and in Chile.
We found Christian Center to be a loving fellowship of Bible believing Christians. The love of Christ was evident and their preaching was well grounded in God’s Word.
On our 2nd Sunday evening we visited Jorge’s home church again. This time they asked me to share some of the basic about how the church should function. I opened up the Book of Acts with them and they listened with great interest.
To my surprise Naomi offered to translated. She did a great job after only one month of living in Chile she was able to translate my teaching. Spanish is her 4th language!
We didn’t leave Chile without shedding a few tears at the airport. Certainly it’s a bit sad to know that Naomi will be living so far from us and not taking part in our daily family life. Nevertheless our joy far outweighs any tinge of sadness in our hearts.
We know that Naomi has a good husband who loves and Jesus and loves her.
We have seen that both of them have hearts for God and hearts to serve God’s people.
We believe that God will use them in Valdivia for his glory and we look forward to being able to visit them again in years to come.
If you didn’t catch the podcast where Christina and I talk about Naomi and Jorge’s relationship and marriage you might want to check it out here.
We found Chile to be a beautiful and unique land of mountains, hills, and sea shore. It boasts one of the highest standards of living of all South American countries. However, politically it seems to be far left most of it’s neighbors with a quickly rising young and highly secular group. Nevertheless around 70% of the population claims Catholicism but this number may be falling.
Valdivia especially seemed to have a higher percentage of left leaning secularist who are at best apathetic to religions. This is probably due to the fact that there are 3 significant universities in a relatively small town of 130,000.
There are a few Bible preaching churches in Valdivia, however it seems that evangelicalism in Chile is quite dominated by various strains of Pentecostalism which emphasize miracles, personal prophecy, and experiential worship, and are weak on Bible teaching and expository sermons.
First, in my conversation with church leaders the theme that consistently came across was the need for good teaching. Few church leaders have opportunity for theological/ministry training. There is a ministry training school in Temuco, which is about 2.5 hours North of Valdivia, but that’s not feasible for many.
Secondly, I saw a need for apologetics ministries in Valdivia. Because of the universities in town many young people ask philosophic questions about the faith that are difficult for church leaders untrained in apologetics to answer.
Finally, I believe there is much opportunity for student ministries in Valdivia with 3 universities in close proximity to each other.
How you can pray
We’d appreciate it if you could pray for Naomi and Jorge as they began their married lives in Chile. Below are a few prayer requests.
- Pray that Jorge will have enough clients. Jorge is just getting started with his law practice. If you want to know what kind of law he practices you can check out his website here.
- Pray for Naomi as she learns a new language and adjusts to a new culture.
- Pray for wisdom for Jorge as he helps lead his church through some needed change.
- Pray for the documentation process to get Naomi’s residency in Chile.
- Pray for growth in their faith and in their marriage.