The Mission’s Family Christian Residence, opened in April, 2010, was a long time in development. The residence complex, consisting of two duplexes (four houses in total) and a multi-purpose building, is built on the Chile Mission’s property located in the middle of urban La Cisterna in the southern part of the capital city of Santiago. It began as a residence for children arriving from large children’s homes, after being abandoned or taken away from their families. Almost all of the children suffered abuse and/or neglect in one or another.
The children lived in two of our four houses (two duplexes) on the property with Christian house parents to experience “family” (in many cases for the first time in their young lives), as they lived in our homes with Christian Chilean house parents. Goals and objectives in this work included getting the children to obey and respect authority and learn to receive and give love, as we taught them Christian values through Jesus and instilled in them self-worth. We employeed a full-time psychologist and the work was both challenging and difficult, but also rewarding in many ways. Each of the four houses has four second-floor bedrooms, designed to receive up to six children (two per bedroom) and leave one bedroom for the house parents. There is also a multi-purpose building on the property. Here are some photos of the residence property from the street and from inside the property.
We continued in our work with children through October of 2013, at which time the children were removed and re-located by a Chilean judge, largely due to one of the girl’s false acusations against her house parents. The removal was extremely disappointing for all of us, especially in view of not being able to even respond or be a part of the proceeding. At present there are no children living in the Residence houses.
2014 through 2016 were years of re-forming and re-shaping the ministry, as well as addressing interior and exterior maintenance needs. During this time a directing board was formed and a new legal foundation established, as well as needed remodeling and maintenance being completed on the property. The kitchens and main bathrooms in each of the four houses have been remodeled, houses have been re-painted where needed, and furniture has been re-upholstered and otherwise repaired.
In 2017 we re-opened the houses to provide housing and emotional & spiritual support for mothers of children hospitalized in Santiago children’s hospitals. Our ministry site focus shifted to mothers/fathers in need of refuge and help in times of their children’s medical needs. The children come to Santiago from others parts of Chile to be treated for bad burns, cancer, and other long-term treatments or for organ transplants. This is an important ministry to mothers, as roughly 75% of Chileans consider themselves Catholic and 90% of them know only “that Mary is who you pray to” by way of her statue. Their faith is in her is real, but Jesus is not in the picture, so to speak. We pray with them to the Real God, who loves them and is with them. In Spanish, this type of residence housing is known as a “Casa de acogida” (house of refuge & support).
We received our first mother in November of 2017, pictured here with Ellier & Andrea (our director in 2017) and Ross & Raquel (they lived at that time in one of the four ministry property houses, with Raquel being responsible for attending to the needs of those who arrive).
2018 Raquel and Janine visited hospitals to open up more opportunities to help mothers and fathers in need as they come to Santiago to be near and with their sick child. We continued to assess the need for a new director of the work.
In October 2018 the board approved Cesar & Camila to live on the residence property and help carry out mission property ministries. They have been married over 6 years, now with a young son Santiago, and are very active in their church and with its mission work as well. Camila also has many contacts for networking.
2018 also included the further broadening of the Foundation’s outreach and ministry to children and families! Mid-year marked the arrival to the ministry property of APEM, a Foundation established in Santiago to open Christian pregnancy centers. Difficult to believe, but their opening to the public in September 2018 represented the very first Christian pregnancy center in Santiago–Chile’s capital city of between 6 and 7 million people.
This is especially significant in light of abortion becoming legal in the country in certain circumstances and the political push to make it even more accessible in all cases. Here is a link to our interview with Kathy Anderson, president of APEM: https://youtu.be/yGk-bZV9-34
In addition to general counselling, special counselling of post-abortion women, and being a source of connection to birthing options including adoptions and foster families, they were able to purchase ultra-sound equipment in 2019 with which they can give pregnant women more specific information.
1. Our work with children and their families now takes place under the direction of a corporation/foundation, La Fundación “El MINISTERIO DE LA FAMILIA CRISTIANA” (THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY MINISTRY). Its board consists of four members, including Jack and Janine. The foundation’s organizing statutes were officially approved by the government in September, 2015. A significant benefit of being a legally-recognized Foundation in Chile will be its ability to seek financial support within the country from a variety of sources, both private and public.
2. The Residence board is responsible for all Residence policies and for all Residence staff.
3. Also, as mentioned above, APEM Christian Pregnancy Center occupies one house on Chile Mission’s ministry site.