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Quake shifts church’s first mission in Chile

TEMUCO, Chile (BP)–After adopting the Mapuche people group in Chile last fall, Second Baptist Church in Russellville, Ark., was planning to conduct first aid training during its first mission trip to the Mapuche. But following the Feb. 27 earthquake and tsunami, the church shifted gears to help build temporary shelters for displaced Chileans.

“This trip shows us to operate on God’s plan, not ours,” said Shane Wooten of Second Baptist, “because our plans fall through but God’s never does.”

Fellow church member Laura Brown, a high school senior, originally planned to spend her spring break ministering in another part of the world. When that trip didn’t work out, she shifted her focus to Chile.

“I had been praying about Chile, especially after the earthquake, looking for any opportunity to help,” Brown recounted. “When the church’s plans changed, I could step in and help because I had my passport ready.”

The volunteer team worked alongside local Baptists and Baptist partners in building temporary shelters from March 19-26.

Trent Tomlinson, an International Mission Board missionary from Alabama, and local Baptists have been scouting locations for the temporary shelters.

The shelters, called mediaguas, are 10-by-20-foot structures with wood walls and tin roofs. The volunteers cut and nail the wood to assemble the walls, which then are transported and assembled on-site.

Tomlinson, who has received 400 requests for the temporary shelters for families whose homes were destroyed or are unsafe, said it will take several weeks to build that many units.

“We can’t do everything,” he said, “but we have to do what we can,” Tomlinson said.

A team of Oklahoma Baptists is scheduled to continue the work started by the Arkansas volunteers.

During their trip to Chile, the Arkansas team was encouraged by the words of Marcela Romero, a member of a Mapuche Baptist church plant, who said that “God gives us wisdom and knowledge to keep on with the work He’s given us. The most important thing is your prayers.” The Mapuche people make up approximately 4 percent of Chile’s population.

Second Baptist adopted the Mapuche people in partnership with six other Arkansas Baptist churches: First Baptist Church in Hampton, Angel’s Way Baptist Church in Marion, Bradley Baptist Church in Bradley, First Baptist Church in Mount Ida, Third Baptist Church in Malvern and Cross Community Church in Fort Smith.

“We could not do this by ourselves,” Second Baptist pastor Bobby Biggers said. “What we would like to do is send collective teams back to Chile every three months.”
Kate Gregory is a writer for the International Mission Board. Donations to Southern Baptist Chilean relief may be made at http://www.imb.org (click on the Chile quake response graphic). Updated prayer requests can be viewed at imb.org/pray. Information also will be updated through Twitter at #QuakeResponse. Volunteer teams interested in assisting in Chile can e-mail [email protected] or call 615-367-3678. Listen to Shane Wooten, one of the volunteers from Second Baptist Church in Russellville, Ark., as he talks about his week in Chile at http://media1.imbresources.org/files/108/10815/10815-57796.mp3.

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  • Kate Gregory