By Stephen Carrier, Missionary to Chile
Massive crowds of Chileans took to the streets Sunday night to exult in the results of the referendum on their constitution. They cheered, waved signs and flags, and set off fireworks. “Renace Chile,” the signs read. Chile Reborn.
Reborn, indeed. In an overwhelming majority, 78% of the voters decided to reject the old constitution and work on a new one. They also voted that the citizenry should be the ones writing it, to the exclusion of the politicians. The new constitution will be written by 155 citizens, equal parts men and women, who are delegated to the convention. They will have nine months to get it done, with the option for a one-time three-month extension. Then they will send it back to the people to be voted upon sometime in mid-2022.
The previous one hailed back to the 1980’s, when the dictatorial president Augusto Pinochet presided over the country. On the one hand, Pinochet set up a constitution that allowed Chile to become the most economically prosperous country in South America, with several freedoms to boot. On the other hand, the tactics he used in rooting out Communism disgusted many Chileans that still live with those emotions today. When Chile went to the polls, they were not only voting on the Constitution, but also on what they thought of Pinochet’s regime.
Many Chileans feel they have been left behind in a system that benefits the wealthy and ignores the poor. What they hope to see is better access to healthcare and education, environmental protections, and better pensions, among other things. What they will actually get is anybody’s guess at this point.
While religious freedom wasn’t one of the major sticking points of the old constitution (though some do take issues with the Catholic Church)wp, those who value their right to worship still have concerns about what will happen should various opportunists get involved. It is their hope that cooler heads will prevail in the actual drafting of the constitution.
As missionaries headed to Chile, our prayer is that the gospel will go forth, regardless of what the new constitution looks like. While we would love to still have religious freedom, we know that God’s Word is powerful and able to save souls regardless of man’s dictates. We also know He is with us and He knew all these things would happen when He sent us there. We believe He wants to see Chileans saved so that one day they may rejoice in something better than a new constitution. He wants to see them saved that they may rejoice in serving the Lord Jesus Christ, the true King of Kings.
And there won’t be any referendums on His reign. After all, His declarations are perfect, and His kingdom will be glorious.
Chile reborn? Well, okay. But Chileans born again sounds so much better, doesn’t it? Let’s get to work reaching them with the gospel.