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Alf and Hilary Cooper link letter no.22 October 2017

Very dear and faithful prayer friends,

What a very active three months it has been since our last letter! We lost the recent abortion fight with great sadness; we vented our anger at the Te Deum; we launched my book “… desde el Palacio” with all present; we held a Gubbins family reunion and we have now begun our application to the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.

Battling abortion

Despite a very close vote that would have kept Chile as an example to the world with no abortion laws (apart from those protecting the mother’s health) and with the second highest maternal health record in the world, after only Canada, sadly the new abortion law passed. Our Constitutional Tribunal ruled finally that the foetus was not really a human being so that it could not be understood as having “rights”. They passed the abortion law on three counts: danger to a mother’s health, inviability of the foetus and rape.

Of course, there was great celebrations amongst the pro-choice folk in the government and insidious talk of abortion on demand is already in the air. Sound familiar? This is a terrible blow, not only to the unborn child but to the whole concept of the value of a human being. Nevertheless, we are back on the battle front and since there will be November presidential and parliamentary elections, and a massive nationwide Jesus March this month, we are showing teeth by declaring our intent to vote only for those who are pro-lifers.

At the Evangelical Te Deum, due protocol was lost as evangelical leaders expressed their discontent to the seated president Michelle Bachelet (who came within an inch of leaving) during the service. The press was full of the “lack of respect” for the authorities, but it really wasn’t that bad! And now there seems to be more to come. It may end up with the entire government turned out of office at the end of the year and that the abortion law may be repealed or largely modified by the new authorities.

In October, I (Alf) attended the Caminando Juntos renewal conference for Anglicans (on church planting) in Recife

Talking of future authorities, my book “… desde el Palacio” (translated as Out of the Palace) was finally launched on 6 September in Santiago. We were very honoured to have ex-president Piñera (the most likely future president, currently rating at 45 per cent in the polls) with us together with his wife, both taking part most generously. Several of his ex-ministers were present, as well as a packed house of evangelical leaders, family and good friends. Since the launch, books have been selling very well.

The launching of “…desde el Palacio”. Left to right: Minister Larroulet, ex-president Piñera, Alf, ex-first lady Cecilia Morel, miner José Henriquez, his wife Blanca, Hilary and pastor Cristóbal Cerón

We may seek to place it in other editorial hands, besides the Bible Society, seeking to find a more secular outreach. People seem to be enjoying the book so it may well have a good future. The good news is that my good friend Peter Grimsditch, a classmate of mine from the Grange and now living in Barcelona with his wife, has offered to translate it into English. It may reach British shores yet!

La Trinidad is still our main project. We are not retiring from La Trinidad but rather strengthening the team there over the next few years as we gradually hand over to a future pastor. Praise God that we now have several positive options. We are seeking a good man, one of our own home grown, who would be prepared over the next year or so and then able to step naturally into the role. It will be suited to someone who already has major pastoral functions in our church, the respect of everyone and who can be a sort of general manager while we are away in Oxford for a few months. This seems to be the Lord´s way. I will act as rector bishop while the main work is done in a team and the new leader emerges.

Since La Trinidad is such a growing, church planting, missionary sending, pastor producing, lay minister training, key ministries evolving church, it seems that the Lord is guiding us to hold in place a very strong team who I will oversee episcopally as they take the strain! Since there are rumblings too about us becoming a province, the whole future scene is very exciting as long as we maintain the mission momentum and don´t lull into an admin mode. God forbid!

Another recent joy was to have Julio Bustos, a re-instated presbyter who had lost his licence seven years ago with some unfortunate squabbles with PCCs, now join us in La Trinidad. We need his help sure enough!

Julio Bustos

Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS)

I have had in my heart the desire to sit down and read for a long time! Since my All Nations days I have kept in touch with OCMS, awaiting the time when such a possibility could became reality. With the moves in La Trinidad now in place, we have applied at last and are now awaiting the Skype interview. If we are accepted it will mean that we will hopefully fly to the UK this year, visit all our churches and start at OCMS for a six-week period (something that is required every year). If accepted, we will tell you about the area of research proposed.

One of the things about OCMS policy that we like is that someone like myself only needs to be residential in Oxford for six splendid weeks per year. We would combine this with some furlough visitation as we will not be retiring from CMS for some years. CMS has generously granted me this time as a sabbatical (I have never taken a study break during 45 years of church planting ministry in the field) so we would continue to need your kind support over these next years.

Hilary recently revisited Temuco for the pastors’ wives retreat. Remember she arrived in Chile in 1951, a one year old, with her extraordinary pioneer Barratt family and preferred her Manquehue countryside Mapuche friends to posher school friends in Temuco city. So she lived apart from her family in Manquehue Hospital under the care of missionary nurses for a year. That is why she so loved meeting up again with her good friends Nene and Ele.

At the pastors’ wives conference in Temuco

Hilary with childhood friends Nene and Ele

One of my surnames is Gubbins, nice and Irish! However, I had no idea that our family had been owners of a castle in Limerick until a wretched drunkard and partying member of the clan frittered the money away, partying and wenching. These and other interesting titbits we learned in our Gubbins family reunion, a very well organised night where we had Irish bagpipes amid all sorts of other Irish rejoicings! It does us multicultural Anglo Chileans and displaced, bi-cultural missionary kids, a lot of good to discover our deeper roots.

So we rejoice in the Lord every day of our lives out here as we continue in the fast pace and very blessed ministry of the Son of God. Returning today from a men’s retreat, my soul rejoiced as I saw 150 of our Trinidad

disciples swear allegiance to the Lord of Lords and committing their lives entirely to his service. Praise the Living God!

Our love to you all in Jesus,

Alf and Hilary

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