By Ricardo and Beth Gomez
Three months ago Thursday, Chile was awakened by 7th strongest earthquake in history. As we drove north last month (and farther from the epicenter) we were surprised by the number of pedestrian bridges we saw that had been destroyed by the quake. Yet there are other changes to which we have become accustomed.
We cannot, however, become accustomed to the daily challenges that so many still face as a result of that earthquake. Reconstruction is still in process. Although some of our Free Methodist churches and parsonages have been fixed, there is still work to be done. Some projects have not yet started due to lack of resources. Any financial gifts will help get people into warmer/safer homes and churches, something that is particularly important now that the winter temperatures have arrived.
In Santiago, the roof replacement at Casa Grande is almost complete. Please continue to pray for the worker’s safety in these last few days of work! There is still other repair work to be done at this church building. Another project in the city is underway to help replace a wall that was badly damaged at the Santa Rosa FM church.
From Ricardo and Beth Gomez
This weekend, all of the Chilean pastors moved one step closer to helping Chile heal. It was a spiritual step, taken at a retreat for all FM pastors and their families.
Guillermo Flores, Southern California Regional Superintendent for Hispanic Region, provided very helpful, pastoral, biblically-based teaching during the 2 ½ day retreat. Participants were also able to relax and enjoy a change of scenery and escape from the routine/stress in which we minister. Of course, the 5.9 aftershock on Sunday morning helped remind us of the reality of our situation.
This spiritual step is/was an important one in the recovery process. Thanks for making it possible through your giving. There are, however, still many needs yet to meet. Can you help Chile heal?
Working together to help Chile heal
We were greatly encouraged this weekend by the news of a 14-year-old Michigan boy who wants to Help Chile Heal. Our good friend, Pastor Ivan Timm, called on Saturday and told us that a teen in his church decided that his church should have a benefit dinner to help raise funds for Chile. Therefore, later this month the church will host a chili dinner for Chile. We’ve offered to attend, via Skype, and answer questions and/or give a report.
A member of another church wrote to us asking for pictures. Her church has decided to take up a special offering for Chile. She was given the task of putting together a PowerPoint presentation to help present the need to the congregation.
If you, or your church, would like to pool your resources in order to help Chile heal more quickly, please feel free to contact us via email for more information or to schedule a video conference. Be creative; helping others can be a lot of fun in addition to being a blessing for all involved!
We still have 44% (or $39,022) left to raise for the Help Chile Heal budget. Don’t worry! It isn’t too late! The needs still exist and so the account will be open until the goal is met. With all of the cooler temperatures Chile is experiencing, we hope that will be soon.
48% of the Help Chile Heal budget has been received. Temperatures have been in the 30s and 40s already so the need is URGENT. Please help put FM pastors and church members in warm homes this week.
Tomorrow (April 27) will be the 2 month anniversary of “The BIG One.” We say the BIG one because aftershocks are still being felt (some quite strong) and causing more destruction. Yet a lot of positive thing are happening in Chile these days! Reconstruction projects have begun in Talcahuano, Chillan, Coronel, San Ignacio, Los Angeles, Lota, Coelemu, and Santiago (at Casa Grande). There is still so much to do! Some people still live in tents. Some get up out of the tents and go to work. Others get up out of their tent, and no longer have work to go to.
Ricardo had the privilege of visiting Lota last week, offering hope and compassion to those who are still suffering. Pictures from his trip are seen below.
People are still under a lot of physical, emotional and spiritual pressure and for this reason, the Chilean Conference of the Free Methodist Church is requiring all FM pastors and their families to attend a retreat near Chillan this weekend. Please pray that everyone in attendance will return to their ministries refreshed and at least partially healed, with new energy and insight on how to better serve our church family!
Don’t forget to share the on-going needs with your church family and/or friends. Let’s Help Chile Heal this week!
Thanks and blessings,
Ricardo and Beth Gomez
Free Methodist World Missions
We’ve asked you to help spread the word – so that others might give. At the same time, we’ve been telling the people here about your generosity. Inspired by those stories, the twenty-two (only 22) people who attended Sunday’s church service at Casa Grande committed to donate $800 to help replace the new roof. We aren’t talking about a wealthy congregation. In attendance that day were at least 6 elderly people on fixed incomes, a few college students, and a lady who has recently lost her job.Will you share their story – and that of Pastor Nelson Concha which is found below? Together we can accomplish what we could never do alone!
A Report from Pastor Nelson Concha (Lota, Chile)
Now more than a month since the earthquake, we can say that God has been very faithful. Otherwise we couldn’t still be standing. Thanks to the help and prayers of our brothers and sisters, we can see the love of God, not only for ourselves but also for those around us.
In reality, we need help; many are still scared. Part of that is because “prophets” have arisen from other churches, planting fear and terror in everyone as they declare “something worse is coming.” Some entire churches have moved to the mountains, where they still live. Others are living filled with terror.
This is very bad. The church, which should bring confidence in God, is showing that God wants to punish us more, and instead of transmitting strength is spreading insecurity.
Our church members have hurting hearts. Our services are services of adoration, of confidence, faith and holiness, but some continue to live with hurting hearts. They cannot sleep and still many have stopped protecting their own homes.
As pastors, we are tired. We believe that God will carry all of our burdens, but we still feel like we are carrying them all. This is the reality, not only of our physical but also spiritual condition. We would love to receive brothers and sisters that want to come help us and spend time in communion with us.
Pastor Nelson also talked about the physical condition of Lota: Of people still living in tents or unsafe homes, the damaged church building, the lack of running water, and the continuing aftershocks. He said, “We need construction materials or the money to by them – not only for the church but also for church members who are still living in unsafe conditions.”
Ricardo will be traveling to visit and share some encouragement with Pastor Nelson and his church family this week. Please keep praying for Chile and for all of the pastors and churches who are facing similar experiences
Update from Ricardo and Beth Gomez
A little over six weeks have passed since the 8.8 earthquake struck Chile. In that time, the seasons have changed from summer to fall which means two things: cooler temperatures and the promise of rain. This reality accentuates the need for recovery and reconstruction in Chile! According to Chilean Superintendent Sergio Loyola, rather than improving, conditions in many of the most affected areas are just getting worse. Please read his translated letter in the next article.
If you’ve been following our updates, you may possibly be more informed about the reality of the Chilean earthquake than most other North Americans because it just simply isn’t in the news up there! Therefore, we desperately need your help to share the story.
Working together, we can raise the outstanding $53,000 necessary to get our Free Methodist pastors into pre-fabricated housing before winter begins. Working together the structural damages that threaten our churches can be repaired by the end of this month.
With deep appreciation for you ministry to us, and with hearts still aching for our suffering brothers and sisters,
Ricardo and Beth Gomez
Free Methodist World Missions
From Superintendent Sergio Loyola
Dear Friends in Christ:
Today my wife and I visited our churches and pastoral families in Los Angeles, Coronel, Lagunilla, Lota, Talcahuano, Cerro Centinela (the areas affected most by the earthquake). Our goal was to see how things are proceeding with our church. We returned with sad hearts because the situation in many places, and in the homes of our church members, is the same today as it was two or three weeks ago.
Thanks to gifts received from our brothers and sisters in the U.S., repairs to our churches and pastoral homes have begun, but what we have received will not be sufficient. Our budget is $88,920. We are asking only for money sufficient to attack the most urgent issues. We need to receive 100% of the funds urgently, before the rains begin. These will come approximately at the beginning of May.
We are learning that the pre-fabricated homes are more expensive, the construction materials’ prices have increased enormously, and we still have three pastoral families with no place to live and we need to repair three more homes. We are working on the churches affected.
With respect to government programs, they are not responding quickly and, of course, as a protestant church we don’t have much possibility of receiving this type of help. In other words, we must repair our churches and our pastoral homes with our own money, and it is there where we would appreciate help.
Sergio O. Loyola
Superintendent, Chilean Conference of the Free Methodist Church
The Chilean Emergency response team of the Free Methodist Church identified a list of priorities to help get pastors and congregations on their feet again. The total budget comes to $80,000 – well under the original goal of $1 million. At last report, 25% of the money needed has been received.
Breakdown of how the money will be used:
Autumn has arrived in Chile, which means temperatures are dropping and the rainy season will soon begin. Funds are needed by April 30 to help our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ get into safe, dry homes before winter arrives!
Ricardo and Beth Gomez
5 April 2010
In the past five days, we have been awakened twice by very strong aftershocks. The epicenter of last night’s quake was right here in Santiago. Both times, we ran up the stairs toward the kids. The first time, the aftershock stopped before we got all the way up the stairs. The second time, we were standing in the kids’ rooms before it stopped. Juliana woke up and whimpered, “I’m scared,” but after a quick prayer and cuddle, went back to sleep.
These quakes woke us up to several facts.
1. We’re still scared when the earth moves beneath us. We’ve resumed our normal lives. With school, church, seminary classes, teaching a marriage course, Holy Week activities, etc., we are constantly on the go – but strong quakes still stop us in our tracks and send our pulse rates sky high! In times such as those, we remember Juliana and Jonathan’s words of comfort just after the BIG ONE. “Fear not! God is with us!”
2. Despite our return to routine, lots of people, including Free Methodist pastoral families, are in deep need! Superintendent Sergio Loyola just called to check how much money has come in toward Chilean relief efforts because we have another emergency situation. Pastor Alex in Los Angeles, Chile, was told today that he and his family (wife and two young daughters) have two days to evacuate before their rented home is torn down as it has been deemed uninhabitable. Superintendent Sergio says that $8,000 could buy this family a good quality, pre-fabricated home, and he thinks the local government would provide them with land on which to place it! Quick solutions, quick responses are necessary for urgent needs such as this! Can you give today to help Chile heal?
3. What you don’t see can be pretty bad! As time passes (and perhaps with the help of strong aftershocks), more damage is becoming evident in Chile. In the past week several large apartment buildings between our home and our church have been condemned. A tent city has popped up outside with spray painted signs of frustration: “120 families without homes!” “We need help. Honk if you support us,” etc. We’ve even noticed an earthquake-induced crack on our bedroom ceiling. This is only Santiago. This is not where the 8.8 earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit!
People in Concepcion (Chile’s second largest city) and all of its surrounding areas lost not only homes and belongings, but also jobs and a whole way of life. The way the cities look, along with the way they operate, completely changed in a few short minutes. The quake actually moved the city 11 inches. If it was strong enough to do that to the city, imagine what it did to the individuals in the city! They need our prayers. They need our help – not so that they can depend on us but so that they can just get started again.
The Chilean Emergency response team of the Free Methodist Church identified a list of priorities to help get pastors and congregations on their feet again. The total budget comes to $80,000 – well under the original goal of $1 million. At this point, 25% of the money needed has been received.
Breakdown of how the money will be used:
Autumn has arrived in Chile, which means temperatures are dropping and the rainy season will soon begin. Please help us get our fellow brothers and sister in Christ into safe, dry homes before winter arrives!
Your donations can truly give Free Methodist Pastors and congregations the start that they need – before the rain and winter weather arrives.Share:
Immediate needs are to make buildings safe and to install the prefrabricated housing before the temperatures drop and the rain starts. Because Chile is in Southern Hemisphere, winter is about to start. According to architects, some of our church buildings had more serious structural problems than we originally thought. We need US $80,000 to seal and prepare church buildings for the soon-coming rainy season. The people in need are not strangers. The people in need are Free Methodist pastors and congregations many of us in the U.S. have met or visited.Share:
As of March 12, $11,626 has been given through the Bishops Famine and Relief Fund and Help Chile Heal for Chile relief and recovery needs.
From Ricardo and Beth Gomez
Superintendent Sergio Loyola and the Chilean Emergency Recovery Team have submitted their overall budget for reconstruction in Chile following the 8.8 earthquake and tsunami on February 27, 2010. The budget total is much lower than the original estimate of $1 million. The total amount needed in order to repair pastoral homes and churches, and in some cases replace homes, is $80,920. Below is a breakdown of how the money will be spent. Winter is coming to Chile, and the time to do the work is now! The coming rains and cold weather will only delay and hamper reconstruction efforts, thereby increasing the needs. This week as we remember Christ’s sacrifice so that we may have hope for the future, Easter challenges us to follow His example and give to those who suffer. Will you consider giving today in order to Help Chile Heal?
Emergency and Reconstruction Budget
from Sergio Loyola, President, Emergency Committee
More information about the budget: