Judges 7 is the story of Gideon’s small army overcoming numerical odds to defeat the Midianites. It is at the center of this victory that God’s presence is made known.

Similarly, today in Chile, God is present through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile (IELCH). A little church of about 3,000 members who are part of a dozen congregations, the IELCH combats numerous social issues.

This year at the Indiana-Kentucky Synod Assembly, Izani Bruch, IELCH presiding bishop, addressed the issue of domestic violence and femicide—the killing of women—in her country. “Even though there have been some laws that have been passed, we still haven’t been able to stop the domestic violence,” said Bruch. “One woman per week is murdered due to femicide, and it worries us because we see the tendency as it continues to grow. It’s not diminishing, and that’s due to the condition Chile is living in now because of the economy.”

In order to help reduce the number of femicides, the IELCH has created spaces to empower women. “In these spaces we’ve been able to perceive the presence of God,” said Bruch. “Many women, when they speak of the church, speak of these spaces as spaces of transformation where they have heard they are daughters of God, they have dignity, and it is a space that has empowered them to be able to say no to violence.”

Bruch ended by saying of the IELCH, “We strongly feel the Spirit of God, a spirit that moves us to be a prophetic voice lifting up the different societal problems of Chile. So, from a small church of 10 communities, today’s challenge is to give answers, to be a church with purpose. … In our communities and congregations, the Spirit of God is working and is moving us to continue to be a church that can give reason for its faith and to give testimony of the grace and love of God in Chile.”

Nate Gafkjen
Gakjen is an intern with ELCA strategic communications. A graduate of Valparaiso (Ind.) University, he will pursue a master's degree in communications online at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., this fall.

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