Chile is a leader in South America: It has one of the strongest economies on the continent, the highest technology penetration, the leading literacy rate, one of the highest numbers of universities per capita, and the list goes on and on.
But Chile is also leading in other areas. According to an April 2012 national report by Vida y Estilo (vidayestilo.terra.cl):
- Chile’s Civil Registry records 118 divorces for every 100 marriages.
- Chile has the highest divorce rate in South America.
- Chile has the fifth highest divorce rate in the world.
The report concludes with this statement: “According to our statistical analysis, we are experiencing the first wave of matrimonial ruptures, at levels absolutely unheard of before… all indicators lead us to believe that the next few months will unleash a tsunami of broken marriages across the country.”
Vida y Estilo published an updated report in October. The report indicates that the tsunami of broken marriages is indeed on the rise:
- Chile’s Civil Registry records 154 divorces for every 100 marriages.
- Chile’s Civil Registry records 28 legal separations for every 10 marriages.
- A marriage was legally terminated every 60 seconds in Chile (nearly double the 2010 figure).
By May 2013, the divorce rate rose to 170%—170 divorces filed for every 100 marriages. Can you see where the trend is headed? They were right to call it a tsunami.
“Ministry has always been hard in Chile,” explains missionary Laura Dye. “The marriage crisis has been a huge part of our struggles in church planting. So many times we longed for just a few marriages that were strong enough to reach the communities around us, but more than anything our congregations have been characterized by brokenness and broken families.” That’s why she was surprised when 33 couples showed up for a recent marriage seminar, eager to learn the biblical principles for marriage and put them into practice “I leaned back and thanked God for His precious mercy that spilled over on us that weekend,” says Laura.
God is indeed beginning to stir hearts in Chile. At a recent marriage seminar, a pastor closed the meeting with this plea: “I feel like we have been handed some real tools. Let’s dig in and use them.” His assistant pastor called for all those who wished to recommit their marriage to the Lord to come forward. Fourteen couples embraced each other and a new hope for their marriage and family.
A recent FamilyLife training in Chile gave us more hope and excitement for the future of marriages in this country. As an added bonus, we were able to see the first ever Spanish FamilyLife training manual printed in Braille! God is certainly at work in using His followers—whatever our struggles or limitations may be—to spread the message of hope in Christ Jesus.
Reversing a tsunami may seem an impossible task, and for us it is. But we are reminded of the words in Luke 1:37: “For nothing is impossible with God.”