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Every tribe and every tongue…

Yesterday evening we visited a church in Santiago that has sizeable number of Haitian members. The neighborhood was quite run down in comparison to central Santiago, and rents are cheaper which means that migrants find more affordable housing there. I met a lovely young Haitian, Ketschina, who is the church’s worship band (and sings like an angel) along with her brother, who turned out to be an excellent Creole to Spanish interpreter. They are two of five siblings who arrived 2 years ago in Santiago. They have learnt Spanish quickly and have all been able to find employment and start studying, which is a massive achievement for them as Haitians living in Chile, given the difficulties I have mentioned in previous posts. I have learnt that Haitians started arriving in Chile 3 years ago, so Ketschina and her family are part of a new phenomenon in the country that is resulting in many changes and challenges within Chilean society. The church we visited is clearly embracing their Haitian brothers and sisters and the changes and challenges because we witnessed a loving church working as a family, weaving Creole into their worship and notices and embracing and encouraging the ministry gifts of their Haitian members in worship and preaching .

Every blessing,



27 January, 2018 02:46

Revd Laurence Graham is pictured here with Nestor Cuevas, another National in Mission (NMA) whose salary is paid for by the World Mission Fund. Time and time again the NMAs that I meet in the region confirm to me how valuable and necessary the NMA programme is, and our time with Mariela (NMA Coordinator migration and indigenous communities) and Nestor proved no different. Nestor is in the final year of NMA funding for the youth coordinator post. This post has meant that the Methodist Church in Chile has been able to better support youth presidents, youth leaders and youth across the church as the church strives to share the gospel with Chilean young people and develop youth leadership. Nestor has such a heart of love for young people and it was not hard to see the calling he has to work with youth. The Methodist Church in Chile also faces the challenge of a missing generation in their local churches, so his work has been vital for strengthening their youth.

Every blessing,


Solomon Islands

We are in the Solomon Islands. As you may be able to see from the map this is a large country, though most of its area is ocean. The population is about 800,000 and 10% of the people belong to the United Church. They are well scattered so the fact that the four bishops have gathered in the capital, Honiara, to meet us is quite a sacrifice. It has been well worth it though; we have had two days of very useful and encouraging conversation. Not all easy by any means, but our partnership has certainly been moved forward.


Meeting Haitians in Curico town square

You may be wondering why this photo does not show anyone’s face. It’s because the Haitians with whom we spoke to this morning in Curico’s town square did not want their photo to be taken. This is one of many cultural differences that Chileans and Haitians face in learning how to live together in Chilean society, and that the Methodist Church in keen to learn about as they seek to make Haitians feel accepted and loved. In the photo the Haitians are taking photos of Curico Methodist Church’s address.

We were very privileged to have been given the chance to walk around the centre of Curico with our hosts, and see how they reached out to the many Haitians who were waiting to go to the ‘Oficina de extranjeria’ (immigration bureau) or seeking to find employment through word of mouth. We met a group of around 20 Haitians, mainly men but some women also, who asked our group to help them find employment. Our hosts directed them to their church so that they could find help and accompaniment through their visa process. Some had not eaten for two days, some did not speak Spanish well and had not been able to understand how the visa process works. Many of them were Christians and were trusting in God to help them. After spending about 30 minutes chatting with them and directing them to the church, we prayed with them and left the group. We hope and pray that they can make their way to the Methodist Church where they will find support and Christian love and warmth.

Every blessing,


Looking for work in Chile

When Haitians arrive in Chile they immediately start looking for work, and many become seasonal workers picking fruit and veg in the fields of Curico, a town three hours south of Santiago. Curico has approximately 20,000 inhabitants and the cost of living is cheaper than in Santiago, although the recent influx of large numbers of Haitians has driven rent prices up.

We have been in Curico since yesterday, spending time with the local Methodist church who works extensively with the migrant Haitian community in their neighborhood. Pastors Irma and Ernesto Bascuñan coordinate a small team of church workers who do what they can to help Haitians find accommodation, employment and in many cases, a square meal to eat for the day. They open up the church’s kitchen to let Haitians cook meals for themselves, and the small congregation goes to great lengths to give what they can to financially support the ministry despite the fact that they themselves are low income households and often face great need themselves. Our Irish-British Methodist delegation was utterly bowled over by the great lengths they go through to both support Haitians in meeting their basic needs but also integrate them into their church life and services. The service we attended yesterday evening included reading Bible passages in Creole, Bilingual worship and preaching in Creole (Revd Laurence Graham was asked to preach in Creole but there is a Haitian member of the church who regularly preaches in Creole too). There is so much that our churches can learn about the welcome they give to migrants.

Mariela, our National in Mission, has a vision for introducing a Spanish language and discipleship programme for Haitians in Curico. The language barrier is a major obstacle to Haitians finding out about immigration law and what steps they need to take in order to get their work permits. Those Haitians who have quickly learnt Spanish seem to be doing better than others who struggle with the language or have not had the opportunity to learn it. A discipleship programme in Creole will support Haitian’s spiritual needs and teach them about what it means to be a part of a Methodist, Christian family. Again, Pastor Huguette has and will continue to be a very important resource person to help fulfill this vision.

Best wishes

Sandra Lopez | Partnership Co-ordinator, Americas/Caribbean
The Mission & Advocacy Cluster | The Connexional Team
+44 (0) 20 7467 5160 [Direct Line] 07854 247536 [Mobile]

The Methodist Church
Methodist Church House, 25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR | +44 (0) 20 7486 5502 [Enquiries] | Registered Charity no. 1132208

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An Irish Methodist President in Chile who speak Haitian Creole

After spending a number of hours at the airport waiting for Revd Laurence Graham (the president of the Methodist Church in Ireland) to arrive due to luggage issues, it was wonderful to see how surprised Pastor Huguette was to realise that what I had told her was true-Laurence really did speak Haitian Creole!

Every blessing,


Haitians in Chile

This is Pastor Huguette, a Haitian lay pastor who has been living in Chile for the last 8 years. She is an integral part of the team from the Methodist Church in Chile who work alongside Haitian migrants in Chile. She was a Methodist in Haiti, and is studying to become an ordained minister in Chile. From our tie spent with her she has a very obvious pastoral calling. She goes above and beyond what we might expect any minister to do in the UK: she currently has 12 Haitians with nowhere else to stay living with her, even though at present the church is unable to pay her a salary for the work she does with migrants in Santiago. She does this work out of love and in faith that our Mighty God will make provision for her and those she is caring for, and she tells me that He does.

Chile is a high income country with one of the most stable economies in the region and it is relatively easy for Haitians to get a three month visa which will allow them to travel to Chile and look for work. However, the reality is that living costs are extremely high in Chile and employers and landlords take advantage of Haitians by paying them very little and charging extortionate amounts for rent. This leads to many Haitians ending up homeless or having to share a room with their entire family or with many other people (an extreme case that we have heard is 20 people sharing two bedrooms).

The Methodist Church in Chile works hard to help each individual Haitian in need and is often able to find them accommodation or employment by word of mouth. However there is resistance from some local churches to actively support migrants and in particular Haitians, so the work also involves raising awareness of the issues they face and helping the church to change the negative narrative that exists concerning Haitians into one of love and acceptance. The National Coordinator for migrant and indigenous communities, Mariela Correa Montecinos who is also a National in Mission receiving salary support from the World Mission Fund, assures me that this change in the hearts of church members is taking place, albeit slowly.

Every blessing,