“I Know that My God Is Real”

tapiaChile earthquake survivor shares his family’s harrowing tale

by Alex Tapia, as told to Alliance international worker Chuck Ostlie

Editor’s Note: Alex and his wife, Rosa Maria, are faithful members of the Alliance church in Reñaca, Chile, where Alex is part of the men’s ministry. During the February 27 earthquake that devastated parts of Chile, their 15-story high-rise in Concepcion collapsed and split in two, right near their apartment. Alex believes that that is where they found the exit. The following is a firsthand account of their miraculous escape from their sixth-floor dwelling.

Just weeks before the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Chile, my family and I leased an apartment on the sixth floor of the Rio Alto building in the city of Concepcion. On the night of February 27, after having celebrated my birthday, my wife and I were sleeping in our bedroom when we felt a strong movement. We immediately ran to the bedroom where our two children—Domenica, five, and Alex, two— were sleeping.  We embraced them as the building began to fall.  

“God, Protect Us!”

We were not concerned about any of our material things as we prayed, “God, protect us!” I closed my eyes. From this moment lying on the bedroom floor until we hit the ground, I don’t remember anything—only that I had given my family to our heavenly Father.  

When I regained consciousness, I realized that the mattress had turned around and covered us up, protecting us from the falling debris. One of the concrete walls had collapsed but fell in the opposite direction. I could see that my wife and daughter were fine, but with great alarm, we could not find Alex in the dark.   

Finally, in the midst of the darkness, Rosa Maria reached out and found our son. She held him tightly, but it was a while before he could respond. At that time, my wife told me that she saw a light and felt a breeze. I took her hand and had her point to where she saw the moonlight (there was a full moon). Our daughter was screaming, saying she couldn’t breathe. I immediately began to search for a way out.  

A Desperate Escape

Amid cries for help from other residents of the building, I climbed up by a fallen wall and through some of the steel of the structure and was able to find a tunnel. Returning to my family, I was concerned that I would not be able to remember where the exit was. The time seemed endless as I scraped and dug with my bare hands, afraid I might cut myself with some glass. Thank God I was able to locate the way out! 

We left the fallen building to seek help for our son, who had cut his head. To our great relief, we were told that his injury was not serious when we arrived at the hospital.

The Hand of God

Despite our family’s ordeal, I could still see the hand of God in our lives that night. My entire family had been in pajamas, barefoot, and very cold. We received slippers and a few blankets for the night. The next day a coworker opened up his home to us, where we remained for several days.

In this situation of adversity, God has increased my faith and hope in him. Although there are things that I do not understand, I know that my God is real. I know that He answered my prayers. I had always asked God to protect my family if I ever had to pass through a major trial in my life. The Lord did a miracle as he used me as an instrument to help my family escape the building alive. Now I know what it means to speak of a loving God while in crisis, yet I also know what it means to lose everything.

What You Can Do

Praise God for the miraculous escape of the Tapia family. Having lost all of their earthly possessions, they would appreciate prayers for God’s mighty provision. Please pray that He will meet all of their needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

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Ten cents of every dollar given to this project will be divided between the CAMA Advance Fund and the Great Commission Fund to cover travel, administrative, and logistical costs of ministering to the needs of those affected by this disaster. As far as possible, the expressed preference of a donor will be respected and followed. In the event that this gift is oversubscribed, any remaining funds will be used for future disaster relief efforts.


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