This story is told by Chilean pastor and church planter Miguel Salas, who works with one of Mars Hill Global's partner ministries.
I was a rebellious youth from Santiago, Chile, when I gave my life to Jesus at 16. I was discipled and trained through my local church and a leadership training institute while working as a manager at a local business. In 2000, my wife, Marta, and I were sent out by our church in Santiago to begin a church-planting effort in southern Chile.
Today we live with our three wonderful children in Lautaro, 400 miles south of the capital. Our focus on church planting includes a vision and heart for the indigenous people of Chile called the Mapuche. We have planted two churches in the towns of Lautaro and Melipeuco and have started a number of house churches in different Mapuche communities in the surrounding region. We are currently working on two new church plants in Traiguén and Concepción and continue to open new house churches among the Mapuche.
Culturally, the Mapuche highly value their relationship with the land. Religiously, most are animistic or follow a syncretistic form of Catholicism mixed with animism. Today the Mapuche are mostly subsistence farmers. These people, located in south-central Chile, come from a proud heritage often at odds with mainstream Chileans.
Here is the story of one of these beautiful people who has come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Gladis is a hardworking Mapuche woman from the countryside. Her life is one of absolute poverty, living on less than $100 a month. She is the mother of five children, four of whom live with her in a 20-by-40-foot house, and her oldest daughter lives with her boyfriend close by. Gladis has been rejected by her extended family for having children with different men, something that has brought profound family shame within the community.
Gladis and her family
Gladis is a neighbor of Fernando and Ana, who were our first Mapuche family reached for Jesus. For years, Gladis witnessed the progressive change in the couple. She saw how they faced a familiar “shame” of having converted to followers of Jesus rather than continuing on in their Catholic-animistic background. Gladis saw the help that Fernando and Ana received from their new church family and the way that they were loved by both Chileans and gringos, even though they are Mapuches as she is.
At last, Gladis took a chance and accepted Ana’s invitation to participate in the Bible study family group that she and Fernando host in their community of Coihueco.
Gladis had many questions. She could not accept that Jesus loved her. She said her condition did not merit forgiveness or respect, nor did she believe that she should be loved. Gladis’ heart had suffered the pain of years of injustice, but at last it began to soften as it was caressed by Jesus. Jesus literally won her love, and Gladis was baptized. She even allowed her new church family to enlarge her house a bit! She now lives in a 40-by-40-foot house. Although Gladis is not rich in material goods, she is now the rich in the love and freedom of Christ. Her children also have begun to experience the joy found in Jesus.
Gladis is a testament of Christ to her community. She is now always busy blessing and serving others and overcoming the difficulties of her own conditions. She is an example to all those we serve that you truly can be a blessing without having earthly riches. She truly understands and puts in to practice the Bible’s words . . .
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
A Mapuche "Ruca" or house
How You Can Pray
Pray for the new church plants in Traiguén and Concepción: they are at the beginning stages, and we have families in place in each location for us to oversee and help launch the new churches.
Pray also for the new business as missional opportunities in the south of Chile to help finance more church plants.
Support Mars Hill Global
Mars Hill Global makes disciples and plants churches around the world by distributing free resources and partnering with international ministries. Our goal is to help all people hear the good news that Jesus is alive, and he is calling all people to himself that we might find eternal joy and gladness in the Father.
Great and small, each donation to Mars Hill matters. If you'd like to support church planters like Miguel, or if you have been blessed by the ministry of Mars Hill Church and Resurgence, we invite you to participate with us to bring the same blessing to others.