The former director Arnold Page explains how Chile for Christ began
During 1979-1981 I lived with my family in southern Chile, where I worked as a Methodist Missionary. This was during General Pinnochet’s dictatorship, but well after the tribulations which immediately followed the military coup. I returned to Chile briefly in 1984 and 1986 to help with two evangelistic crusades which were conducted by the English evangelists Don Double and Mike Darwood. Before we left for the first crusade a godly man called Dennis Ball prophesied that we would speak to rulers and governors, and that some of our dreams would come true.
Going ahead of Don and Mike to prepare for their arrival, I had a vivid dream on my first night in Chile. I dreamt that I received four very large sums of money, but I was not sure what to do with them. During the following week I visited a different city each day, and in each place I was told about financial needs which were impeding the growth of the Kingdom of God.
In Puerto Montt, for example, I was told that the poorest people were more interested in the message of the Communists and Mormons than that of evangelical Christians, because the Communists promised them better housing and employment and the Mormons gave them gifts of food and clothing. I also heard about a man who had studied hard for a Bible exam but the day he passed he was imprisoned for selling fish on the street without being able to show his licence, which he had left at home. Since his family depended for their food on what he earned each day this left them with nothing to eat, and he started to lose his faith in God. Earnest prayer was made to God by the church for him. After three days the church received a letter from a Baptist Church in the USA which had never been in contact with them before. With it was enclosed a cheque ‘for a needy family’. The leaders took the letter and cheque to his family, and when the man got to know about it he praised God for hearing his prayers. He was released from prison and became an enthusiastic evangelist. Through this story God showed me that giving under the guidance of the Holy Spirit can be as much a spiritual ministry as prophecy and teaching. Indeed in Romans chapter 12 ‘giving’ is listed by St Paul along with prophecy and teaching.
Remembering the prophecy about speaking to rulers and governors, I had copied out some verses from the Psalms in which God tells rulers how to rule well. One afternoon at a pre-crusade meeting held in a Methodist Church, I found myself sitting in the seat intended for the Mayor, who was unable to attend because he had a cold. To my immediate right, resplendent in his army uniform, was seated the Governor of the Region, one of Pinnochet’s twelve regional governors of Chile! I told him about Dennis Ball’s prayer and asked if he would be kind enough to take the verses I had written out and study them. He graciously agreed to this and carefully put them into the breast pocket of his jacket, buttoning it up securely afterwards!
On my second visit two years later I was asked to close the final crusade meeting in prayer, and although my Spanish was not very fluent I prayed in Spanish. About 300 people were present, and as the Spirit took hold of me I found that some of the words I was saying were words I didn’t know. However the more I prayed the more fervent were the cries of ‘Amen’ and ‘Alabado sea el Señor!’, so I decided that I must still be speaking in Spanish and carried on regardless! When I had finished and things had quietened down Don leant over and asked me, ‘Why can’t you pray like that in English?’
In the aeroplane on the way back to England Don said I should consider returning to Chile to work full time there, as he believed that this was where my ministry lay. My wife Ann and I met Ray Bellfield, a leader of the Assemblies of God, who agreed to introduce us to some of the Assemblies in England in the hope that we could raise pledges of financial support. A number of people agreed to support us with small regular monthly donations, and I even obtained the offer of a part-time lectureship in timber engineering at the University of Bio-Bio in Concepción, the city where I had the dream. However one weekend the Lord said quite clearly, through two different people, that I was not to go back to Chile after all, and in prayer the following week I felt that He confirmed this to me. I had been keeping in touch with people in Chile, and I knew there were still financial needs there, so I wrote to the people who had offered to support us and asked if they would be willing instead to contribute the money they had offered to a trust which would support the pastoral and evangelistic work of Christians in Chile and help those who were poor. They all agreed to do this, and thus in 1992 Chile for Christ was born.