One Month Later: Chile Earthquake Recovery Continues

By Chuck and Betty Ostlie, serving in Chile

Editor’s Note: Many people in Chile are still in desperate need after February’s devastating earthquake. The Alliance family has responded generously through Compassion and Mercy Associates (CAMA), the relief and development arm of the C&MA. Yet the scope of the recovery task is “staggering,” write Chuck and Betty Ostlie. Read about the progress being made and how to pray for Alliance churches as they reach out to their countrymen with the love of Jesus during these difficult days.  

You may receive little information these days on CNN concerning the reconstruction after the 8.8 earthquake in Central Chile.  Therefore, we would like to give an update on the needs around the country as well as in our churches after international worker Bob Hepokoski and a team traveled south to evaluate the present situation.

Cost of Repairs

The emergency relief goal has been primarily achieved, and the recovery stage is in full swing. But the size of the task is staggering. It will cost $3.6 billion USD to repair hospitals and $3 billion USD to rebuild schools. Crops will be lost in the central region due to damaged irrigation systems; jobs have been lost to damaged businesses.

Much of the fishing industry suffered the loss of boats, docks, and processing plants.  Unemployment, housing shortages, and infrastructure damage will affect local economies for some time.   

Many of our churches were seriously damaged including several in Santiago. Thankfully, our church in Reñaca had no damage.


Damage is great. Driving is complicated due to the rubble in many streets and demolition vehicles removing fallen buildings. 

The church’s sanctuary is standing, but very unstable. The front wall has partly fallen, and the remaining walls could collapse at any time. 


More than half of the older buildings are unreinforced adobe, and the majority were seriously damaged or collapsed.


The lower part of the town was totally devastated by the tsunami. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, and more than a 100 lives were lost.  The town lost its wood pulp plant along with 600 jobs. Recovery will be long term.

The pastor officiated at the funerals of three firemen who were killed. Three families from the church lost everything, and one family of six is currently living in the church’s Sunday school rooms.


The CAMA team took 50 high quality water filters for distribution into needy areas.

Relief Ministry

Santiago churches sent several tons of emergency relief supplies to Curico, Talca, and Constitución.

The Concepcion area churches received an even greater amount of relief from the south. Church members received food and supplies, and it appears that all have had their immediate needs met. Most of the churches have been able to serve others in their community with basic supplies.

The churches still have goods on hand. The Alliance national church is continuing to ask for food and relief aid for those affected. The supplies were the result of an organized campaign for local church giving and a $15,000 USD gift from CAMA.

Needs of the Churches 

Although life is returning to some semblance of normalcy, even in the worst damaged areas, there are great needs that will not be overcome quickly. At least two Alliance churches need to be demolished and rebuilt. Unlike schools and hospitals, they will receive no government help. The national church has received an offering in all the churches, and the amount will probably come to more than $20,000 USD. That is a significant amount, but it will not be enough to rebuild the affected churches. 

Local pastors have been through a difficult ordeal yet have been called upon to minister to hurting churches and communities. They have given with sacrifice, but they need support and training to deal with their own trauma and that of their communities.  This is especially true in Constitucion.

It is important that the national church continues to develop a coordinated plan. Long-term assistance to some churches will be important. Some were small and economically fragile before the quake, and they will be tested even more afterward.

Even with help from the national church and local funding, the churches in Curico and Talca will need significant economic assistance to repair their facilities if they are to recover quickly. From experience, one great opportunity could be to link them with U.S. Alliance churches that will partner in the recovery task. 

Prayer Mobilization 

When I asked one pastor what he needed, he answered, “Just prayer.”  There are many needs that he faced, but he realizes the great need for prayer. The mission should continue to communicate this need so that our churches in the United States will remember the Chilean church and Chileans outside of Christ in their prayers.

Help with Training pastors in Post Traumatic Counseling 

Many of these pastors are dealing with people who have suffered severe losses.  They have shown and will show signs of depression, anxiety, and fear for some time. It is important that pastors be given tools to help their churches and communities to overcome the trauma. With CAMA’s help, we could seek resources or people who could come alongside the pastors in meeting this need.

Thank you for remembering the needs in Chile during these difficult days. We are praying that many will come to know Jesus as a result of their trials.  Jeremiah says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).  

 What You Can Do

 Impact your world and make a donation today.

 Give to Chile Earthquake relief»

 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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