Chile Earthquake Update

The following report was sent to us from Bob Hepokoski on June 8, 2010

During my June visit to Talca, in Chile’s central valley, I was awakened by an aftershock at 4:15 a.m.  It was one of three that gently shook that night.  Three months after the 8.8 cataclysm, the ground has ceased to tremble with the same frequency or intensity; now the aftershocks that are most evident are the personal tremors of the millions who lived through the disaster.

To my eyes, Talca looked worse than it had in the first weeks after big quake, when the streets were congested with piles of rubble and partially collapsed buildings.

As I lay awake, I reflected on what I had seen driving into town that evening.  Bulldozers and front end loaders had trucked away mountains of rubble and torn down the remains of hundreds of former homes and businesses.  Several city blocks were almost barren, except for a few temporary wooden homes that had been placed there by the government. There were still hundreds of buildings with walls cracked and split and I wondered if how many, if any, could be saved. The images brought tears to my eyes, and I thought how Nehemiah had cried over the walls of his city so long ago.

Despite the devastation, the church in Talca was celebrating.  For two Sundays they had not met, while they worked on an emergency structure where they could meet during the winter.  With help of a Santiago men’s group they had taken the old rafters and placed them over the courtyard where they could make a temporary meeting hall for 120 people.  It was filled on Sunday and there was great joy and more than a few tears. Tears for their old building, now a broken shell, and joy for being together once again.

The day before we had traveled from Arauco, a small logging town on the southern coast of Chile.  They were spared from February’s tsunami, but they were struck by the power of seismic waves that moved the sandy soil almost as if it were liquid.  Most of the streets were broken and the entire city water system was ruined.  In the 50 member Alliance church, five families lost their homes and the church building will need to be rebuilt.  Despite such widespread damage, Pastor David Cabezas says that local church giving has increased, because the people want to rebuild as soon as possible.

That night, as I waited for more tremors (none came), I meditated more on the story of Nehemiah.  It is natural, I thought, to shed tears when one’s city is in ruins.  It’s ok.  But it is also natural to take steps to rebuild.  Many of our churches here are doing major repairs and others are speaking to architects about new plans.  But not one of them has the funds they need.

Just as in the days of Nehemiah, rebuilding the walls will take a concerted effort of all the people working together.  Several of the churches have been helped by a special offering of all the Chilean Alliance and others are being assisted through a cooperative project set into motion by CAMA Services.  Offerings were received from other Alliance national churches and from interdenominational agencies as well.  We are currently trying to help establish partnerships for earthquake recovery.

I share the sense of loss and the sense of hope that is present in so many of our Chilean brothers and sisters.  I know that many of you do as well.  On behalf of the Chilean church, I want to personally thank the individuals and churches who have shown fellowship and compassion by giving for this reconstruction.  We have felt your love and we praise God for you

Grace and peace,
Bob Hepokoski

What You Can Do

We encourage you to send your gifts through The Christian and Missionary Alliance for the approved special fund, Chile Earthquake Church Reconstruction. In addition, we are seeking partner churches that will stand with a Chilean church throughout the recovery process, in prayer, in giving, and in working side-by-side in reconstruction.

You can also give to the Chile Earthquake Relief Fund of CAMA (Compassion and Mercy Associates), the relief and development arm of the C&MA.


Get Involved...


We cannot “Live the Call Together” unless prayer is central to all we do.
Pray with us »


Is God calling you to service? We’re here to help you connect your passion with God’s purpose.
Serve with The Alliance »


Help build Christ’s Church by supporting the ministry and workers of The Alliance.
Give today »