The Work in Chile
Vernon and Sue Hawkins
Casilla 800 Talca, Chile
Dear Brethren and Friends,
The specific purpose of this letter is to give you a two-year progress report on the work in Talca. It will necessarily be brief, and if any have some particular question regarding the work we would appreciate the opportunity to enlarge on these things.
Sue and I were the first members of the church that began meeting in our home at 1577 7th Street on or about September 7, 1962. By December of that year the group meeting regularly numbered 20 on the average. None had been added to the church. Then in January 1963 we had our first protracted meeting with Bob Tipton of Pilar, Argentina doing the preaching. During that week three men were baptized. Since that time one of them has moved with his family of seven to a port city far south of Talca. The other two have been luke-warm in the Christian life. One, Humberto Benavides, has been led by his wife to believe that we teach a false doctrine (salvation by baptism only), but we still have some hope that he will one day get the Bible down and teach himself that salvation is by faithful obedience to Christ.
During the rest of the year, 1963 and the first eight months of 1964, 11 more people were baptized, five men and six women, making a total of 14 people baptized in Talca during the two years. Three more, including Phil and Betty Morgan, placed their membership with the church, making a total of 19 members in all. Of this number five have moved to other cities, leaving 14. Seven are unfaithful for various reasons, and 7 are struggling to gain back the weaker and convert the worldly. Yes, that's right: at present there are seven active members (that I know of) in the Lord's church in Talca, and seven who apparently don't realize that true Christians meet and work together for their own salvation and that of their neighbors. And even among the seven "faithful" members some of us are not as active at times as we ought to be.
But Brethren, this is progress, thanks to the Lord. And we are determined to continue forward, not looking back with a view to returning to the world that we have left. Pray for us as we pray for you.
Our methods have been aimed at making the church self-supporting from the start, and with the exception of a preacher's salary (which is not an indispensable item) the church has been paying its own way. The offerings of the Chilean brethren have been low, the dollar-per-week kind, but thanks to you who have supported me and Sue and the Morgans there has been enough in the treasury to do the following: We have been preaching by radio every Sunday for two years next January. Several thousand tracts, invitations to meetings, copies of our correspondence course (this last by private effort) have been printed. We have had three "paid" gospel meetings. In addition but with the help of a few small gifts from individuals, we have bought a lot on which to build a meetinghouse. Incidentally, last night the Chilean brethren promised to sacrifice (literally) in order for us to be able to build the house this summer, along about February.
This, brethren, is about all that we can report that is pertinent. And now I would like to state some of our needs. First, and foremost, we need $70 per month additional support. Our regular support at present is $430. Of that amount we save $50 in a travel fund, send $30 to a boy in college and spend $70 for rent, which leaves $280 for living, preaching tools, travel in Chile and saving for old age. (That last is put in to get your sympathy. Actually our 7 kids are going to support us when we get old. ) Second, we could use an occasional visit from some of you rich guys who like to fish and do personal work during vacation (preachers accepted). Approximate cost for a round trip is about $700. Free meals and lodging while here. Third, and of least importance, I could use a $5,000 loan to buy the house we're living in. It has 5 bedrooms, maid's quarters (presently vacant), and an enormous back yard. We would need about 50 months or better, five years--in which to pay.
None of these needs are pressing. If we were given our choice of one, we would ask for the second. The church hasn't authorized me to go asking for her, but we could use a good carpenter during the whole month of February of next year, granting that we have sacrificed by then.
Thank you for your benevolent support of our work during the past two years. Thank you for continuing with us. Let us hear from you, and forgive us for neglecting to write more often. And in conclusion, we exhort you like Paul exhorted the Corinthians: Beloved brethren, be firm and constant, growing in the work of the Lord always, knowing that our work in the Lord is never in vain.
With love to all,
Vernon and Sue Hawkins
Truth Magazine IX, 3: pp.12-13