Between June and December of the year 2007, four veteran missionaries related to the work in Chile went to be with the Lord. All were retired from active service in the country, but all left an indelible mark in the different areas where they served. Their influence on the people they saw saved and those they encouraged in their spiritual growth continues to be evident as the work of the Lord continues. The assemblies where they labored remain as bright lampstands today for the glory of God.
Mr. Richard Hanna passed away on the 27th of June and then on July 14th se�or Eliecer Parada died. He was over 100 years of age. Mrs. Alice Thomas (nee Hill) departed in September and Mr. William McBride died on December 6th. The three widows, Gladys Hanna, Doris McBride, and Elsa de Parada were faithful companions in the labors of their departed husbands. They merit honor for their contribution to the work.
Chile’s unique shape as a country has meant that opening up new works usually requires going north or south, instead of east and west. The long Pacific coastline of 2,600 miles (4200 kms) is an average 80 miles (128 kms) away from the Andean mountains which mark the border with Argentina and Bolivia. Peru borders Chile on the north. The population of Chile is estimated at over sixteen million inhabitants. The capital, Santiago, has over six million people and major cities like Valpara�so, Vi�a del Mar, and Concepci�n and its surrounding area have more than a million inhabitants. The long distance from north to south has not prevented the good seed from being sown. As a result, assemblies are in existence in Arica in the north, just 8 miles (13 kms) from the Peruvian border and also in Punta Arenas, the most southerly city in the world. More than forty assemblies have been planted in between these two distant points.
It is the desire of all who work in the country to see more areas opened up and assemblies planted. There is ongoing activity in the gospel in many places where, hopefully, local gatherings will later on come together to glorify God as a local assembly.
Chile’s democratic government allows full freedom to serve the Lord. There are no restrictions placed on the workers who may use methods they deem Biblical to make Christ known. In a few places, believers still hold open-air meetings.
In Santa Mar�a, the mayor has ordered the music usually being played in the Plaza to cease while the brethren use their loudspeaker to preach the gospel. School gymnasiums are made available in Talca and Concepci�n for the Easter and national Independence Day two-day conferences. One-day conferences are held throughout the year in many places.
Radio has been used for over 55 years. The daily radio program originating in San Felipe has enjoyed 44 years of uninterrupted programming. Gospel tents are widely used from November to March, during the spring and summer months in Chile. It is a little more difficult to obtain suitable lots as construction projects occupy areas that once were available, so there is always a need for prayer to find something adequate.
National workers outnumber missionaries from abroad. This is a good sign for it shows that not only has gift developed, but also assemblies have assumed the responsibility to support the Chilean brethren who labor full-time. Other brethren engaged in secular employment are active, having a heart for the lost. One couple contracted to clean the bathrooms at the bus terminal in San Antonio last summer in order to remain and help the fledgling work in that city. At least eight assemblies in existence today had their start when men were transferred to work in the area and they started a gospel work.
In many places, attendance at assembly meetings is good, not only on Lord’s Day, but also during the week at the ministry meeting and the prayer and Bible reading. We consider the teaching of the Word of God to be essential to protect against the inroads of error and also to prepare the Christians to testify effectively in their personal witness to the Savior.
Chile’s economic situation slowly improves, and financial institutions give it high marks for its growth pattern. For businessmen, this is good news but increased consumerism results in less interest in the gospel among the populace. Businesses stay open until 9 and 10 at night so some assemblies schedule “series” of meetings for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights every weekend for a month. It has proven effective and serves to stir up the Christians to get out with the gospel. Tract distribution is in the thousands with computers and printers making it easier to run off good material on short notice. Two brethren have good printers to meet the demand.
Visitors from abroad come more often than they used to and it is always heart-warming to hear them express how much they feel at home in the Breaking of Bread. Although they don’t understand the Spanish, they do appreciate the exercise of the brethren to worship and fulfill the Lord’s command Scripturally.
The need for prayer on behalf of the work is an ever-present reality. For what should interested Christians especially pray? Paul’s requests for prayer give good guidelines as to what should be mentioned in prayer. “Brethren, pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith” (2 Thess 3:1-2). “I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem (or elsewhere) may be accepted of the saints” (Rom 15:30-31). God grant that each one be exercised to rejoice “in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer” (Rom 12:12)!