January 12, 2011

More on the Mapuche of Northern Patagonia

Did I ever mention how God has hooked us up with some really amazing people?

When we lived in Argentina, 10 years ago now, I began reading the Bible, surrendered my life to Christ, and started going to a little tiny church tucked away on the second floor of a building in busy, congested downtown Buenos Aires.

A friend of a friend of a friend who had been on stint (CCC lingo for short-term missions) in BA hooked me up. The pastor of this tiny gathering of believers turned out to be the Director of Campus Crusade for Christ for all of Argentina and Latin America. He was so humble I didn't even know who he was at first.

Later he told me his testimony: he had been a street kid, someone shared the gospel with him, and he got saved in a fire-and-brimstone kind of way when he was 18 years old. Long story short, he is now heading up an amazing ministry to college-aged kids and minorities in his country. He is also bilingual English/Spanish, a grandad with his lovely psychologist wife, and is reaching not just the college students, but the less-reached minorities of his country (including the Mapuche) through short-term mission trips.

As I write this, they are in Patagonia at this very moment on a mission trip. We also received the Facebook invite to go - wish we could've!. I am so jealous. Wish we were there.

Here is some information about the Mapuche I gleaned from their Mission Site (en español).

It is amazing to me to think how the Mapuche live. And to think how I live. And to think of going there to be with them, to help them. Dare we think it?

"The Mapuche (people of the land) are basically spread out over three provinces: Neuquén, Río Negro and Chubut [northern Patagonia]. Some live in the cities, but the great majority live in very isolated communities. In some cases, some communities can only be reached by four-wheel drive or by horse. Poverty is the common denominator in these parts. Although in some communities the government has provided housing, they still remain poor. The majority make a living by raising animals or vegetable gardens.

In Neuquen Province there are 46 Mapuche communities, only 18 of which have electricity, and only one, running water. They have neither medical nor dental attention, and have only a small health outpost with one nurse for 50 families which are spread out over 320km² (124mi²). Winter temperatures can reach -26°C (-15°F), which kills many animals, and consequently leave less possibilities for food. The entire situation of these people is very difficult, but it's nothing compared to the spiritual drought. In Neuquen Province there are only two communities that have a local church."

Incidentally, we've been communicating with one of YWAM's Patagonia offices, the one located nearest the Mapuche. They gave us some very helpful information about the region, as well as offered to pray for us as we prepare to leave. So sweet. Part of their calling, they said, is to reach the Mapuche.


No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails