“Chile: Everlasting Mercy” is the title of a new 7-minute video from the Synod that tells how Lutherans — including LCMS donors — have made it possible for the small partner church in that country to provide mercy to those affected by the powerful magnitude 8.8 earthquake that hit Feb. 27, 2010.
The video — available at www.lcms.org/video/ChileEverlastingMercy — begins by recounting how the quake “fueled a tsunami so powerful [that] hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes [and] more than 500 lost their lives.”
“It was the worst thing,” Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile (ILC-Chile) President Rev. Cristian Rautenberg says in the video, as he speaks of those killed and others looking for their relatives.
The two communities hardest hit by the quake — Talca and Constitución — were hundreds of miles from the nearest Lutheran congregations.
However, with the support of Lutheran partners including the Synod —through LCMS Disaster Response — ILC-Chile pastors continued ministering to those affected by the quake. The Chilean church has only five pastors.
LCMS Disaster Response Director Rev. Glenn Merritt and the Rev. Dr. Carlos Hernandez, director of LCMS Church and Community Engagement, joined ILC-Chile pastors as they talked and prayed with quake-stunned residents of the two towns.
From those early contacts with earthquake-affected residents and with the help of generous donors — including $326,000 in LCMS Disaster Response grants for emergency and long-term recovery needs — new doors were opened for the Gospel in those two areas.
Merritt relates in the video that after initial meetings with ILC-Chile leaders, an action plan was developed that “would allow them to respond … effectively.”
“As recovery efforts continued, a new mission start was planted in Talca and Pastor Omar Kinas began to serve there,” Merritt says in the video. “They also had the opportunity to start a children’s Bible study in Constitución. And from those two initial efforts, there now are two mission congregations in those locations and the church body continues to serve the people of both communities — meeting needs.”
While he notes that there were and are psychological, physical and emotional needs, Merritt says it is the spiritual needs that are most important to those affected by the quake in Chile.
He also says that he and Hernandez responded with pastoral care for their ILC-Chile colleagues, after observing that “they, too, were suffering because of this disaster.”
Now, three years after the earthquake, Rautenberg recalls in the video how lives filled with despair have been restored with eternal hope.
The ILC-Chile president says that although the earthquake was “awful,” it also provided “opportunity to show Christ — show the cross of Christ to these people, with the help of other churches.”
“As their country continues to recover,” the video’s narrator states, “Chilean Lutherans, motivated by Christ’s love and with LCMS support, continue to serve — a model of disaster-response ministry that brings new blessings, even today.”
“It’s amazing to me that the members of this very small church body could pull together and touch the lives of so many with mercy,” says Merritt as the video concludes. He speaks of their “reaching out to the children who before had not even attended church and now are gladly attending church; reaching out to those who are now members of that small mission church and helping them rebuild their homes and even renovating a church building for them, so that they have a place to meet [that] also serves as a community center. Thanks be to God.”
Updated Nov. 15, 2013