Nearly a decade ago, the idea emerged for the first time.
Six adults dreaming together what God might have in store for a ministry in northern Chile. Planting churches, yes, a given. But how would we reach our community? We wanted to be intentional, multi-faceted, creative, helpful, relevant.
Rather than a cold building standing empty between Sundays, we envisioned a place where every day there was meaningful activity and helpful outreach to our neighborhood. We talked of a community center, of after-school tutoring and sports for youth, and ESL offerings. We envisioned counseling and crisis pregnancy ministries and discipleship opportunities.
Ten years later, the idea is still alive. And for perhaps the first time, we can actually visualize it in the form of a prospective property on a quiet corner of Calle Jose Miguel Carrera in Iquique.
It has been for sale for awhile. The first time I visited, my husband was on a ministry trip and managing five wound-up children while walking through made imagining its prospects rather challenging. Even so I had to acknowledge that after many months of searching in the downtown area, this was the first place with real possibilities.
The second time I visited, with my husband and mother-in-law, anticipation truly began to build. Granted, it was an older home which needed work. The living and dining areas (through the wooden door at left) were small, and the antiquated stairs to three bedrooms above were steep and a little scary. But the back yard was spacious and with patience and planning, the possibilities were encouraging.
More exciting, however, was the former auto mechanic shop (behind the black metal door) with offices on the second floor. Though currently dark and dirty from disuse, in my mind's eye I could picture bright lights and clean tiles, desks and tables and cheerful decor. I could envision opening the door each day after school and welcoming students to tutoring and game time and English classes and most importantly, Bible teaching.
On the second floor, I imagined a small apartment where visiting missionaries could stay. Already we have a talented and trained colleague just waiting in the wings to join us for three months in 2014, if God allows. And because He is the kind of Author who ties all the strings of a story together, it just so happens she is one of the six adults who imagined this ministry in the first place!
Right now, it is still a dream. It is a dream that requires papers to be approved, mortgages to be accessible, and a 10% down payment to miraculously materialize. It depends on the property not being sold before we are in a position to bid on it (and we continue to be surprised that it remains available, but remember that "with God all things are possible!")
But in the meantime we are doing our part as much as is humanly possible. We are making changes to our children's schooling and taking time to visit the area, often driving by the house and praying for God's will to be done. We are explaining to our children and trying to allay their concerns and encourage their involvement in this future ministry. We are sharing our hopes for a sister ministry with our current church and with missionary colleagues.
And then, we are waiting.
"Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD."