A Look Into Antofagasta's Houses of Prayer
In Antofagasta, Chile the streets are bustling with people in the early morning hours until the sun goes down. It's 7:00 at night when Lane leaves for his house of prayer. He gets on a bus and takes the long journey to his house of prayer at Gilberto’s. He greets Gilberto with a handshake and a hug, then greets his wife Cecilia with a kiss on the cheek. They chat while waiting for others to show up. Lane begins with an ice breaker to open up conversation within the group and for them to get to know each other better. After the ice breaker they begin with a devotional. Over the past couple of weeks, they have been studying the culture of Jesus (the difference between us and the world, leaving space at the end of the devotional for questions about what they discussed, and finishes with a song and announcements of the church. Lane began the house of prayer on April 21st, starting as a bible study and moving to the house of prayer (opening it to the public), “The first couple of weeks in May was uncomfortable, but now it´s more fluid and I'm comfortable enough to talk with any new people that might show up.” One of the neighbors named Lucy has been one of the few to be more consistent. She is full of questions even though she doesn't have a strong relationship with the Lord. We keep praying that with this more personal environment she can come to accept Christ as her savior.”
Jokingly Lane said, “My least favorite part of it is doing the ice breaker. I always save that until last. Luckily I have a lot of resources, I ask people for Ideas and I go from there. The devotional, questions, and everything else is what I really enjoy.”
It has been a good experience. Gilberto went to seminary to study to become a Pastor but didn't finish due to his wife's pregnancy. Gilberto’s background experience is great. He is very interactive with the questions while leaving space for others to add their input. It’s great because everyone receives two perspectives on the topic Lane teaches each week. “It's encouraging to see someone so hungry to want to share knowledge with others. Gilberto and his wife are always inviting others, and they keep inviting even though not many people show up.”
For Camila and Leah, getting to their house of prayer is much simpler. They are able to enjoy a short walk in the sunshine down the dusty street to Betty’s house. Betty is an older neighbor who is always happy to have people over. They talk about the week and interesting highlights and begin asking about how she did with the homework they gave after their last visit. Camila then goes into the next part in the Bible study, asking questions about how we can apply forgiveness to our own lives. Afterwards she receives the following week's homework, finishing with prayer, a worship song, and they enjoy some sweets to finish their time together.
Camila and Leah began their house of prayer on March 19th. Beginning as a study to help Betty understand more of the Bible, their time together has now become an open place for others to become a part of her small group. “It´s more personalized and we are able to do a one-on-one study” says Camila. They have only had one friend of Betty show up, Felipa, but they continue to work to see more come. “It has been encouraging to hear that Betty has been sharing what she has been learning with us.”
The girls are teaching Betty in the form of “a plan of salvation”. The started with the basics, moving into creation, leading into who Jesus is and are now teaching about sin. Each them is taught by either Camila or Leah. “We are working with her in a way that whatever lesson we are teaching it parallels with a church event (like an encounter) or with a particular issue she has, and we go about it in a circular manner so she can see the whole perspective to understand the idea.” shares Camila.
“We know we are planting seeds and that God will keep working through us to help our neighbors. The best thing right now is that we are able to have Pastora Maka or Alyson come with us and share their experiences with Betty.” Slowly but surely, the Betty’s house will join our church to become a light for our neighborhood.