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Comforting the victims of the Chile earthquake

Emmanuel Thomas

Help for the Andes foundation has been working directly with coordinating relief efforts since the earthquake, which took place here in Chile on the 27th of February 2010. We have been focusing our relief aid trips on the Chilean city of Constitucion which is about 360 kilometers south of the capital, Santiago. We have made four trips there to date and have included approximately 46 volunteers in these missions. I would like to tell you a little bit about our third trip which took place on Easter weekend. This was the trip where we had received Activated Ministries’ sponsorship of Christian, educational, and spiritually motivational material which we were able to distribute in this city. Our idea of going on this date was inspired by the events that took place on Easter, where Jesus died and rose again. The way we look at it, this town in many ways has died, so our message to Constitucion on this special date was one of resurrection.

On this trip we had received donations of chocolate Easter eggs as well as the materials we were given by Activated Ministries. These were our items of choice for this trip and as it turned out, there were no Easters eggs in Constitucion, not even for purchase according to local sources, and according to major news agencies and the media in this country, some of the most desperately needed aid in the affected cities is spiritual and therapeutic aid. So we were able to “hit the bull’s eye” so to speak with filling the people’s need for encouragement, motivation, and faith through the products and gifts we left with them and the time we spent talking and praying with them.

We were able to visit many different places in Constitucion, including a state run home for abused girls, neighborhoods which have been constructed of emergency houses, as well as individual homes of families who had lost property, livelihoods, and in some cases loved ones. One noteworthy visit was where we visited the home of the family of a fisherman who lost his life while saving many others who were trapped on an island in danger of the coming tsunami. This fisherman kept going back to the island and rescuing boatloads of trapped victims. When he was about to make his fourth trip to the island he was warned by those he had rescued on previous incursions that there wasn’t time to make another successful one. From their vantage point on a nearby hill, they could already see the approaching wave. To this he replied “I would not be able to live with my conscience knowing that I might have been able to save another soul but chose to save my own.” He never returned. This man was named by President Pinera as one of the anonymous heroes of Chile. We were able to help, inspire and encourage this man’s family and help them to see how Christ-like his actions were.

There aren’t enough words to express all the lives that were touched and hearts strengthened due to the words and messages we were able to distribute to the victims of the Chile quake in this city. But one thing stands out to us each time we travel south to help these people; the faith that each one possesses and the desire to start anew is amazing. It is truly an example of the saying “If I lose everything but my faith in God, I have lost nothing, but if I lose only my faith, I have lost everything.”