Maria Villaroel lives on Easter Island, one of the most remote places on earth. This small island, known for its mysterious stone statues, lies more than two thousand miles west of South America.
Maria’s husband, Atillio, traveled to Easter Island in 1975, leaving Maria and their infant son behind in Chile. During her husband’s absenceMaria was introduced to the Adventist message. She embraced these new truths and was baptized just before she joined her husband on Easter Island.
When Maria arrived, she discovered that she was the only Seventh-day Adventist among the 3,000 people living on the island. Maria worshiped and taught her children Bible stories in her home on Sabbath.
For years she prayed that God would help her to share her faith with others. Then she met Sergio Celada, a Chilean police officer who was visiting the island on business. She wanted to share the gospel with him, but she wasn’t sure how. Then she remembered the Voice of Hope tapes that she had just received. She offered them to Sergio. The tapes made a deep impression on Sergio’s heart, and he arranged to have the recordings broadcast over the local radio station.
Sergio had to leave Easter Island, but he urged Maria to take the tapes to the radio station every week. Maria did this for more than twenty years. She became the Voice of Hope on Easter Island. People wanted to know more about the Bible, and Maria wrote to the Voice of Hope in Chile and asked for Bible study guides.
Maria prayed for help to raise up a church on the island. In 1998 Gabriel Montoya, an Adventist from Chile, visited the island. Maria begged him to send someone to Easter Island to teach her and others who were interested more about the Bible. Gabriel sent his wife, Luz. Within a month, 30 people were studying the Bible with Luz and Maria.
Luz continues to visit the island whenever she can, studying the Bible with people whom Maria has introduced to the Savior. Maria’s dream of a church on Easter Island has come true at last. Each Sabbath, 30 members and many visitors worship together.
The chain of faith has come full circle. Maria’s first interest, Sergio Celada, was baptized in Chile, and her own son is studying theology. He plans to return to Easter Island to pastor the church his mother helped to plant.
Easter Island had no Adventist presence until an untrained believer prayed that God would use her to plant a church. Our mission offerings help make such outreach possible through programs such as Global Mission. Thank you for giving.