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Chilean pastor: ‘Trust in the Lord’


5:00 P.M. EST March 1, 2010

A Chilean man stands 
amid the rubble. Photo by Felipe Ovalle.
A Chilean man stands amid the rubble. Photo by Felipe Ovalle.
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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 struck.

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 survivors.

“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. 
Churches were among hundreds of
buildings damaged by the earthquake.
Photo by Jan O. Spixeles.
View in Photo Gallery

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 cleanup process.

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 destroyed.”

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 newsdesk@umcom.org.

The Rev. Osvaldo Herreros

“We had a meeting that we called the ‘Mary and Martha’ meeting.”

“Tuvimos una reunión que le pusimos de nombre de las dos Marías.”

The Rev. J. Daniel Pacheco

“What we urgently need is food because there are children without milk…”

“Lo que estamos necesitando urgentemente son alimentos, porque no hay leche para los niños.”

The Rev. J. Daniel Pacheco

“I say there have been two earthquakes, one was real, the second was, vandalism.”

“Hubo un primer terremoto, el segundo terremoto fue el vandalismo.”

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