The Devil of the Sea


Chile’s coastline is 3,000 miles long, and in the late 1890s, when The Christian and Missionary Alliance entered Chile, overland transportation was underdeveloped. Early missionaries in the region journeyed in a manner similar to the apostle Paul in many of his travels—by sea.

Charles LeFevreIn 1902, the first Alliance church was planted, which opened numerous opportunities for C&MA missionaries to enter the region. Charles LeFevre and his wife, Rose, journeyed to Chile in 1916. Following the tradition of previous missionaries, LeFevre invested in ocean travel. Sea voyages ensured quick passage along the coast, but it was not without difficulties. Many times LeFevre experienced significant storms, which threatened to sink him if not for God’s protection. The Chileans called LeFevre El Diablo del Mar —“The Devil of the Sea”— because of his means of transport and his reputation as a true man of God. The nickname was a sign of respect from the Chileans, increasing the impact LeFevre made through his work for Christ.

Once, LeFevre was holding a meeting in the house of a Chilean couple who had recently come to Christ. He traveled by his usual means, a boat christened La Luz (“the light”), which he had constructed around a Ford Model-A motor. Before his visit, LeFevre had received threats stating that the vessel would be destroyed if he came to the area to hold the meeting. LeFevre was not discouraged but continued with his original plans.

A week later, several men told him what happened that night. They had gone to the vessel with a can of gasoline to set it on fire. As they got closer, they heard people talking inside. Frightened by what they heard, the men went to the other side to vandalize the boat. There, they saw a light shining inside and abandoned their evil intentions. LeFevre tried to convince them that no one had occupied the craft that evening. In retelling the incident, he paraphrased Psalm 34:7 by explaining that “‘the Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them,’ and the boat too.

Charles LeFevre experienced the protection of God many times throughout his work in Chile. In 1956, he returned to the United States to minister at Moody Church in Chicago, Illinois. He died in 1967. Although he experienced rough times on the sea as well as in life, his work in Chile reached many people with the love of Christ.

—Victoria Pies, C&MA National Archives volunteer

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