A young mother in Chile whose marriage and mental health were in ruins did not expect to find any comfort in a phone call from a distant stranger.
Depressed since her marriage started to sour a few years before, 32-year-old Ximena Flores* suffered steady deterioration of her mental health, cementing her husband’s desire for separation. A schoolteacher with a 5-year-old daughter, Flores’ condition worsened when the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to teach online from home – where the sources of stress and conflict overlapped with work challenges.
“Someone told me that there was another teacher who was a Christian and could help me,” Flores said. “I did not believe this but, in my despair, I dared to tell her what was happening to me. She told me Jesus is the answer, and I said, ‘How?’”
The colleague told her of a local missionary in another town, and Flores gave her permission to have him call her. When the missionary telephoned Flores, they spoke for an hour, and he shared about the Lord with her, she said.
“We prayed, and my heart rested when the missionary prayed for me – I felt that I was infused with faith despite the distance he was calling me from,” Flores said. “I confessed my sins and asked God to help me. I accepted Him as my personal Savior.”
Defying the conventional wisdom that face-to-face contact is needed for such a personal exchange – especially true in Latin America – the power of the gospel registered even by telephone. Flores said her life began to change the moment she trusted in Christ.
“We prayed for my marriage, and something extraordinary happened – my husband and I reconciled, and since then everything has gotten better each day,” she said. “Today, I do not have depression. My debts have been paid. I am happy because Jesus Christ has changed me. I thank our Lord and the missionary that God put in my path, who calls me every day to share the Bible and pray for my marriage.”
The population of Chile may be more than 23 percent evangelical Christian, according to the Joshua Project, but for each individual among the majority who do not know Christ, the need for salvation is 100 percent. The message of salvation in Christ is transforming not only lives but entire communities throughout Latin America, including countries with many unreached people groups.
In one rural town in Peru, residents paying homage and making sacrifices to nature gods were openly hostile to local missionaries who established a Christian radio station. They tried to block the workers from renting property for the station and routinely harassed them, a native ministry leader said.
“We suffered from constant robberies, and we know that our own neighbors did it,” the leader said. “They defamed us for preaching the Word of God, and we received threats to burn the radio transmitter.”
The message of Christ taking the wrath of God on the Cross and turning condemnation away from those who trust in His death and resurrection made its way to townspeople’s hearts through the airwaves. The station’s popularity grew, he said.
Residents came to the radio station offices requesting prayer, with some coming to listen in reverence to the Word of God in person. Workers thus planted a worshipping congregation on the station premises. The church and its attendant Bible study groups continue to grow, the leader said.
“Our neighbors no longer resort to witchcraft to ask for healing or blessing of a god; instead, they look to our ministry for such things,” he said. “We observe a change in our community due to people being better citizens and neighbors and to respecting God’s work. By the mercy of God, we see that the community is being transformed for the good and for the glory of Jesus.”
A community is transformed only so far as individuals are regenerated in Christ, and among those individuals was a college student addicted to strong drink. Alfredo Ramirez* had alienated his family and was on the verge of being expelled from university due to his alcoholism, the leader said.
“One day our missionary gave him a Bible, which Alfredo accepted with enthusiasm,” he said. “From that day on, he began to read his Bible daily, until one day he came to our meeting hall and heard the preaching.”
The Word of God seized his soul, and the 22-year-old received Christ as Lord and Savior and was baptized, the leader said.
“He has now served Christ for four months and testifies of his change,” he said. “He has already won other young people to Christ.”
Native workers are proclaiming Christ’s salvation throughout Latin American amid various kinds of opposition and risk. Please consider a donation today to equip and encourage them for the task.
*Names changed for security reasons