Regions Beyond: Chile’s Patagonia

Submitted by David Alves

When Cheryl and I obeyed the Lord’s call to full-time service in 2009, we knew that there was still one of the 12 regions in Chile’s string bean geography that had no assembly testimony. Local churches were functioning in southern cities such as Osorno and Valdivia, and there was a foothold in Puerto Arenas on the tip of the South American continent, but in between there was a gap: the 11th region. A brother in Christ had recently commenced house meetings in three towns, but we knew of nothing else. These centers are Coyhaique, where there are 60,000 souls; Puerto Aysen, where there are 20,000; and Puerto Cisnes, where 6,000 people live.

This is mountainous country, cold and stormy from April to September, and especially isolated when slides close the highway, demanding many hours in the best of circumstances. The scenery is attractive but the social unrest that has infected Chile raises the specter of vandalism.

I had been saved as a child in Concepcion. My father, Juan Seguel, has been in the Lord’s work for some time. Cheryl was also saved as a child, in Rancagua. In 1977 her father, David Rodgers, was commended to service in Chile by assemblies in Ontario. We have two children and are awaiting a third. When we married in 2002 we established our own office. I am an architect and she a designer. We looked to the Lord to provide income and keep us flexible for service as He saw fit.

The Spirit used circumstances and a verse of Scripture to confirm our exercise about serving in the gospel. The verse was the well-known Luke 10:2, “send forth laborers,” and His “harvest” was in the far south of our own country. There are approximately 40 New Testament local churches in Chile. Each of the northern regions has at least one.

We live in Coyhaique and visit Puerto Aysen each week, where the converts meet on Sundays and Tuesdays. We also visit Puerto Cisnes every 15 days, 200 kilometers distant, where the group is small but growing. Our Father has protected us in traveling. The Lord has given employment in the area to men and women from other parts and they give valuable help.

In the great goodness of God, the saints here in the capital broke bread for the first time in 2011.

The Lord has opened “a great door and effectual” in the form of the first day school associated with the Chilean assemblies. It is located here in Coyhaique and is administered by local Christians. There are 90 students on the roll in lower grades in this first year and the intention is to add another grade level each year. We marvel at how He brought about this project and permitted construction in record time. Daily routine includes a devotional session, instruction in the Scriptures, and Bible workshops. The school is one of the activities that occupies our attention in this field where souls are being harvested for the glory of God.