5:00 P.M. EST March 1, 2010
The Rev. Edinson Caba Burgos and his wife, Mariela Correa-Montecinos,
were just settling into their new assignment at a Methodist church in
the historic section of Santiago, Chile, when the Feb. 27 earthquake
Their unpacked boxes remain forgotten as they visit those sleeping in
the streets around Primera Iglesia Metodista, located in Sector Centro
near the Alameda, sharing tea and cookies. Like many Chileans, they are
concerned about having enough food and water.
“Trust in the Lord” is what Caba is telling his congregation as they
and other Methodist churches hold prayer services for earthquake
“During tragic moments, when an earthquake strikes, nothing else
matters but our loved ones,” he said March 1. By forgetting about
material things, “We begin to think that life is precious.”
As a nation, Chile is well prepared for earthquakes, but the
experience was still frightening. “It was long, too long,” recalled
Correa-Montecinos. “Because it lasted over three minutes, a lot of
people got panicky and thought it was the end of the world.”
She considers it something of “a miracle” that their home remained
intact. The church building suffered some damage. “You can see the
cracks and broken pillars and windows, but the damage is not as bad as
in other churches in other districts in Chile,” she said.
Churches were among hundreds of
buildings damaged by the earthquake.
Photo by Jan O. Spixeles.
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Primera Iglesia Metodista serves a large population of immigrants
from Colombia and Peru. Although they did not conduct regular Sunday
services the day after the earthquake—much of the neighborhood has no
electricity or running water—some people came anyway, to start the
Caba, a pastor for 25 years, has lived through three strong
earthquakes. His goal is to provide emotional support to his
congregation, his neighbors and his country.
He was among the Metropolitan District pastors who met with Bishop
Mario Martinez on March 1 to determine the best ways to assess damage
and deploy help to the affected churches. Martinez had assumed the post
of bishop just 10 days earlier.
“Congregations in the north are coordinating efforts and assessing
how to gather help—food, water, clothing that can eventually be
distributed,” Caba reported. “They have to find alternate ways to get to
the southern region since the main bridges and roads were totally
On March 2, the bishop and the Rev. Juan Salazar, district
superintendent of Misón and president of the Methodist Social Ministry
of Chile, will try to travel to that region.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief has set up a special fund
for financial support for relief work in Chile. Donations can be made
online to Chile
Emergency Advance # 3021178.
*Bachus is the editor of el Intérprete magazine. Linda Bloom, a
United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York, contributed
to this report.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.