New Lives for Old

Pablo and Wilma were signing annulment documents when a friend invited them to an Alliance Marriage Encounter (ALMA) sponsored by the Cordillera Alliance Church in Santiago, Chile. Wealthy by Chilean standards, the couple led extremely busy lives, leaving no time for their children or for each other.

After 15 years of marriage, they had drifted apart. Pablo had multiple affairs. Wilma fell in love with Pablo’s best friend. They finally separated but agreed to attend the retreat.

“When the weekend began, I didn’t have any expectations,” says Wilma. “In fact, back in our room, we had a fight.”

Pablo stormed out and planned to return home. “I couldn’t find my car, so I tried to walk home,” he says. “But it was too dark, and I couldn’t find the exit. Eventually I had to go back to the room.”

Hope for a Future

Saturday morning, things started to change. Wilma heard the testimony of a woman to whom she was able to relate. “She was in love with another man, had left her husband, and later returned to her husband. I saw her with her husband, and it looked so good. As I listened to her heartfelt story, it birthed in me the possibility that [Pablo and I] could have a future together,” says Wilma.

Both Pablo and Wilma accepted Jesus. “I considered myself an atheist,” says Pablo. “But by the end of the weekend, the Lord had met me. I left the Encounter very changed.”

 After ALMA, Pablo and Wilma grew in their faith in Christ and their love for one another. They attended Sunday worship at the Cordillera Alliance Church, where they were baptized and where Pablo has served as a board member and church secretary. In addition, they began sharing their testimony at ALMA weekends.

 A Test of Faith

 Seven years later, Pablo and Wilma suffered a tragedy that would test their marriage like never before. During a routine medical test, Pablo’s spinal cord was damaged, paralyzing him from the waist down. “He began rehabilitation with six other men and was the only believer in the group,” says Alliance missionary David Woerner, who had helped to prepare the couple for baptism. “Two of his fellow rehab patients committed suicide, and two others divorced their spouses.”   

Pablo copes with his paralysis by trusting that the Lord is sovereign. “I haven’t lost hope that someday I will be able to get up and walk,” he says. “Either way, I’m prepared to accept His will, and the paralysis doesn’t keep me from participating in ALMA. We’ve continued traveling and giving testimony to what the Lord has done despite this spinal cord injury. And so we are joyful, living this life we have. The most beautiful thing is to be able to serve Him and share with our brothers in the faith.”

“God has radically changed our lives, not only by turning our unbelief into belief but also by giving us a testimony borne out of suffering,” says Wilma. “This power that God has is so great, and His love that He gives us is so big. We want to continue serving Him, learning about Him, and working for Him. I’ve learned that for those who love God, all things work together for good.”

What You Can Do

Praise God for bringing Pablo and Wilma to a saving knowledge of Jesus and for restoring their marriage. Pray that the Lord will meet all of their needs and continue to use them for His glory.


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