Just a brief report on the Vision Conference in Santiago, Chile. DNA co-founder Bob Moffitt and I had the privilege of teaching.
There were about 150 people attending from a variety of local churches, mainly from Santiago and Temuco. The teaching was received very enthusiastically. Many people shared with Bob and me how the training had positively impacted them. The turnout was about what the organizers expected; they seemed pleased. It was over a holiday weekend in Chile so it was a sacrifice for people to come.
The Vision Conference was organized, hosted and promoted in a highly professional manner. I was impressed by all the work done to promote it prior to our arrival. There was promotion in both Christian television and radio, and a special video was made to promote the it in area churches. They did a wonderful job hosting Bob and me. We were treated very well.
I was also impressed by the way that local evangelical pastors worked together to host the conference. An organizing team was formed with representatives from different churches that don’t often work together, apparently. The main group seemed to be the Christian Missionary Alliance, but there were also a number of other evangelical and Pentecostal groups represented. I got the sense that the leaders represented a cross-section of some of the key evangelical leaders in Santiago (and perhaps all of Chile). I know they felt that one of the blessings of hosting the conference was in working together. This was gratifying to hear.
Of our main hosts, Pastor David Anabalon is the son of one of the most prominent evangelical pastors (now deceased) in Chile. He is respected for his work in helping evangelicals gain legal rights and recognition with the Chilean government. David speaks fluent English and received his M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary in California.
Our three main hosts did an outstanding job, and I am encouraged about the potential for collaboration with them in the future.
Leadership was provided by Pastor José Mardones Rivera, senior pastor at Iglesia Dinamarca in Temuco, a large city south of Santiago. Pastor José attended at least one of the Latin American organizing meetings in Panama in 2013-14 and volunteered to be the “adalade” (local network leader) for Chile.
Pastor José is very warm and hospitable. He brought a bus full of his congregants from Temuco to Santiago for the conference.
Pastor Francisco Javier Mardones of Iglesia Encuentro Con Dios was our primary contact and host in Santiago. He is a very warm, dignified man and seems to be highly respected as a leader of the church. He does quite a bit of work with government leaders.
Pastor Francisco and his wife, Sonia, are very artistic. He has authored three books, including a book of poetry. Both he and Sonia have been actors and love the theatre.
It also was wonderful to connect again with Angel Tapia and Luis Aranguiz Kahn, our young friends who attended the 2013 DNA Global Forum in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. We met Angel’s new wife (they were married last year). Angel and Luis (and another friend) organized a time for Bob and me to speak to about 25 students at Santiago University, the second largest university in Chile.
Angel continues to have a heart to reach young Chileans. He wants to see the training contextualized and made relevant to issues in Latin America. I would love to see him become a trainer, and I encouraged him to work with others to form a movement to spread the training to young people in Chile and Latin America.
One thing that struck me was the huge amount of books and booksellers connected to the conference. There were at least three Christian commercial booksellers at the conference with tables stacked full of books, banners and other materials. They did raffles, gave away books, etc. There were stacks of our DNA books on hand. Most people I spoke with said they first came into contact with the teaching though the books. All of this is kudos to the excellent work of our friend Viviana Velie at Editorial Jucum! Bob had lines of people asking him to autograph If Jesus were Mayor.
The first time I saw a printed copy of our brand-new book Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion was at the conference, already translated and published in Spanish.
In conclusion, I think there is a very solid foundation of church contacts and possible trainers to build on in Chile. It is a strategic country in Latin America as it is among the most influential from a socioeconomic standpoint. Immigrants from around Latin America (particularly from Peru, Ecuador and Colombia) are flocking to Chile for work and opportunities. Santiago is a beautiful, highly developed city chock full of impressive glass skyscrapers, including the tallest skyscraper in South America.
A few things I learned about the Church and culture while there:
The dictatorship during the 70s-80s of Augusto Pinochet was highly traumatic to the nation and the Church, something still reverberating today. Prior to Pinochet, the country was led by President Allende who was a socialist. Because of the Cold War, the US supported his overthrow and the installation of Pinochet as the new leader. Pinochet instituted market-based reforms, but he was also a bloody tyrant who terrorized, murdered and tortured Chileans. While many in the Church didn’t support the Marxist policies of Allende, the cure (Pinochet) was far worse than the disease. The Church is still somewhat divided over this today.
While the country continues to grow economically, there is concern for the future. There have been recent reports of corruption in the government, and people are also concerned about increasing sexual immorality and the negative influence the United States is having in this regard.
It was a true blessing to teach with Bob.