Missionaries Jim and Liisa Tino serving in Chile and globally

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“Like streams of water in the desert…”

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Poor Chile! It seems that recently she has had more than her share of disasters. Starting with earthquakes and a tsunami in 2010, to wild fires and a major earthquake last year, and then torrential rains causing mudslides last month…and now an erupting volcano…you begin to wonder what’s up.

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Well, for starters, the pastors of the Lutheran Church in Chile have had many opportunities to show God’s mercy.  God has used these disasters to open many doors to the Gospel.  Church people have been volunteering and sharing their strength and their faith.  When humans have physical needs, their hearts are often more in tune to their spiritual needs as well.

But real change is not quite that easy.  Old habits are hard to break. Learning to walk with Jesus day by day is a sometimes frustrating process.  And, there’s the stress that the aftermath of a disaster brings.

As we recently visited the area of Iquique where the earthquake of 8.2 magnitude happened a year ago, many things looked like they had returned to normal.  The temporary housing camps made by the government had  satellite dishes propped up on them.  Some residents had converted part of their 160 square feet living space into a store front selling candy, soda and eggs.  We heard rumors of family disputes and people who had gotten involved with drugs and violence.

As we knocked on the doors, people were still happy to see us. One lady apologized for not being able to offer us anything….not even tea.  That’s what Chileans usually share during a visit.  She explained they didn’t have any water that day because the community tank was not working.  I noticed she had two chunks of ice from her freezer sitting in a bowl on the table slowly melting.  She told us she was “collecting water”.

Isn’t that how the Gospel works sometime?  We hear about it.  We read it. We acknowledge that it’s there, but our lives continue on unchanged.  It’s like a chunk of frozen water.  The tea bag sits beside it, dry and almost flavorless.  When we let the ice warm up, slowly it melts into our lives and brings refreshment and life.  The soothing words of the Gospel wash away heartache and pain.  When we immerse ourselves in it, like the tea bag, flavor is dispersed all around.  Suddenly life has meaning!

We visited with this lady for quite a while.  As we prayed together, you could sense the peace and confidence in Jesus returning to her soul.   She offered her backyard as a gathering place for the contacts we had made, and said she would spread the news of our visit around the neighborhood.  The next day at 7 pm we had more than 20 people listening to God’s Word, singing and praying in her backyard.  The “frozen water” had melted and the Gospel was at work nourishing many with the Good News of Jesus our Savior!

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