…a three hour tour…

It began as the Orme family vacation. Feeling burned out and needing a break, Dad and Mom and kids took an airplane ride to Santiago, Chile. They had no grandiose expectations – a relaxing, intercultural experience, site seeing in Santiago, maybe a fresh perspective of C&MA Missions. It would all be low key; non-committal; the proverbial “three hour tour”. The year was 1995. The Orme family vacation went unexpectedly from a “three hour tour” to a lifetime journey. This journey has become a vision. The Kingdom of God slipped unbeknownst into the viewfinder, and the Tom Orme family has never been the same.

The tour bus didn’t leave upon their arrival, as was expected. Rather, the Field Director involved Tom in immediate ministry. Tom shared his testimony with a group of one hundred men, shortly after getting off the airplane. However, the event that upturned Tom’s world the most was the tour of Hogar La Granja Orphanage for Girls in Santiago.

It wasn’t much to look at. The buildings were in disrepair. The walls around the compound were useless. Local men were breaking into the orphanage at night; molesting the girls and stealing what little valuables they owned. While viewing the tenement-like dormitories, the decrepit wall, and the precious souls that lived within, God spoke; vacation transcended; a vision emerged. Something had to be done. Something would be done. Tom vowed to return.

When God grants a vision, he also grants a plan. Tom’s original vision was to work with the girl’s orphanage. God’s plan was to provide something greater. Plans had been laid to return to Santiago in 1998. Because Tom is admittedly “mechanically challenged”, he enlisted the help of men and women in his church. Construction foreman, Chuck Bushy, and electrician, “Sparks” were key recruits. Everything was planned. The money had been raised; the team had been gathered; and airplane tickets had been purchased. Then word came that the “Vision For Chile” team would not be able to come at all. The girl’s orphanage could not accommodate them. Several days later, after prayer and finagling, and under the awesome hand of a Sovereign God, the team that was slated to go to Santiago was on a bus heading five hours south of the city to the Provincial capital of Linares, Chile. In Linares the team would build a school, from foundation to roof, for a Boy’s orphanage, also run by the C&MA National Church. Another team returned the next year to add a second story to a dorm, as well as build a recreational compound.

Both orphanages were in desperate need; a need that had been overlooked and under funded by the government and the national church for many years. God used Tom to bring attention to the needs of the orphans and their homes, and to the church’s responsibility to help meet those needs. Things began to turn around for the boys. They had a school where they could receive a good education, as well as hear about the reality of Jesus Christ. Tom raised the money to fund these projects through the generous donations of individuals and churches in the US. After several years, the Chilean National Church began contributing sacrificially, as well. Over $50,000 had to be raised for each project. God provided. The work continued. The Church embraced Tom’s vision as God’s vision. God did the miraculous.

After two years of working with the boys, “Vision for Chile” had opportunity to return; this time, to the Girls. In 2000, a group went to Santiago and rebuilt the wall. They were also able to fund and replace a much-needed roof on another of the buildings. The next year, a new dormitory was built and this year another dormitory was added. The vision continues today, as plans are underway and money is being raised to build yet another dormitory, in October 2003. Tom is currently working with the Chilean field to raise over $100,000 for the benefit of the orphanages.

Tom is eager to see what God will do in the coming months. His heart is to be obedient to God. “The main goal of our mission is to in some way help fulfill the passage in Matthew 25:35-40, which can be summed up, ‘when you have done it to the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.’ Our ministry is to provide better living conditions for the orphans, but ultimately it is to better their lives, both inside and out.”

The Scripture is plain; taking care of widows and orphans is the essence of true religion (James 1:27). Because one man allowed God to transcend a family vacation, there is a tremendous opportunity available to practice this “true religion” in a very practical way. The vision is for Chile and that is incorporated into God’s vision for the world.

Thanks to:
Bernie Anderson
Faith Community Church (C&MA)
Franklin, TN
If you would like to be a part of this ministry, please contact Tom Orme by emailing tomorme@visionforchile.org or calling him at 615-599-8200 (h), 615-973-9837 (c).

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