TEMUCO, Chile — After
adopting the Mapuche people group in Chile last fall, Second Baptist Church in
Russellville, Ark., was planning to conduct first aid training during its first
mission trip to the Mapuche. But following the Feb. 27 earthquake and tsunami,
the church shifted gears to help build temporary shelters for displaced
“This trip shows us to operate on God’s plan, not ours,” said Shane Wooten of
Second Baptist, “because our plans fall through but God’s never does.”
Fellow church member Laura Brown, a high school senior, originally planned to
spend her spring break ministering in another part of the world. When that trip
didn’t work out, she shifted her focus to Chile.
“I had been praying about Chile, especially after the earthquake, looking for
any opportunity to help,” Brown recounted. “When the church’s plans changed, I
could step in and help because I had my passport ready.”
The volunteer team worked alongside local Baptists and Baptist partners in
building temporary shelters from March 19-26.
Trent Tomlinson, an International Mission Board missionary from Alabama, and
local Baptists have been scouting locations for the temporary shelters.
The shelters, called mediaguas, are 10-by-20-foot structures with wood walls
and tin roofs. The volunteers cut and nail the wood to assemble the walls,
which then are transported and assembled on-site.
Tomlinson, who has received 400 requests for the temporary shelters for
families whose homes were destroyed or are unsafe, said it will take several
weeks to build that many units.
“We can’t do everything,” he said, “but we have to do what we can,” Tomlinson
A team of Oklahoma Baptists is scheduled to continue the work started by the
During their trip to Chile, the Arkansas team was encouraged by the words of
Marcela Romero, a member of a Mapuche Baptist church plant, who said that “God
gives us wisdom and knowledge to keep on with the work He’s given us. The most
important thing is your prayers.” The Mapuche people make up approximately 4
percent of Chile’s population.
Second Baptist adopted the Mapuche people in partnership with six other
Arkansas Baptist churches: First Baptist Church in Hampton, Angel’s Way Baptist
Church in Marion, Bradley Baptist Church in Bradley, First Baptist Church in
Mount Ida, Third Baptist Church in Malvern and Cross Community Church in Fort
“We could not do this by ourselves,” Second Baptist pastor Bobby Biggers said. “What
we would like to do is send collective teams back to Chile every three months.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Gregory is a writer for the International Mission Board.
Donations to Southern Baptist Chilean relief may be made at http://www.imb.org; click on the Chile quake response graphic). Updated prayer requests
can be viewed at imb.org/pray. Volunteer teams interested in assisting in Chile
can e-mail [email protected].)