Developments in Chile Closely Watched

CHICAGO, IL (March 4, 2010) – Covenant Merge Ministries staff member Alejandra Ibarra and her family survived the 8.8-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami that destroyed much of Tomé, where she lived.

She had not been heard from since the earthquake struck early Saturday morning, but she was mentioned on a Facebook page that someone was able to post, says Patty Shepherd of the Department of World Mission.

The families of Marcus Sobarzo, president of the Covenant Church of Chile (CCC) as well as pastor in Concepción, and Lucian Silva, pastor of the Tomé Covenant Church, also survived. Ala Maria, the pastor of the CCC congregation in Rancagua, and her brother, Evangelical Covenant Church minister Henoch Fuentes, who is visiting her, escaped uninjured.

Everyone from their churches survived, but many were left homeless. No word has been heard about the fates of Covenanters in other areas.

People already have begun to donate funds to Covenant World Relief (CWR) so the ministry can assist in Chile. Director Dave Husby said CWR’s response has yet to be determined. The ministry always partners with organizations that have a presence in disaster areas, but groups it normally cooperates with have decided not to direct resources to Chile because they have not been asked and are reluctant to divert assistance from Haiti.

Several other major international agencies also have said they will not be directing personnel and funding to Chile for the same reason, according to news reports. They add that despite the destruction, Chile is the most developed country in Latin America and will be able to deal with the crisis, whereas Haiti’s government and infrastructure is in shambles.

Husby said CWR would consider other appropriate partnerships in Chile as requests are made and the best way to respond becomes clearer. No special fund has been set up for donations to assist Chile, but Husby said Covenanters can donate to the ministry’s general Disaster Relief Fund.

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