Lee and Lisa Schnabel have been with Foursquare Missions International in Chile for nearly five years, but their preparation extends back to childhood.
The son of an Air Force pilot who moved regularly, Lee, as a teen, discovered a love for Spanish, which he studied throughout high school. After Lee accepted Christ during his senior year, his Spanish teacher encouraged his spiritual growth. That furthered fueled his desire for proficiency in the language.
Meanwhile, as the daughter of missionaries, Lisa learned Portuguese early in life, having spent her formative years in Brazil. Later, she moved to Venezuela, where she learned Spanish and graduated from high school.
Experienced church planters, Lee and Lisa have served Foursquare Missions International (FMI) in several locations through the years, including their role as regional coordinators for the Caribbean and Latin America from 1988–1993. The couple returned to the U.S. when FMI offered them a position in South America that would focus on leadership training. After a scouting trip, they recognized God calling them to serve in Chile.
The People of Chile
Lee and Lisa’s home base, Santiago, is a city of 7 million people surrounded by snow-capped mountains that rise as high as 18,000 feet above sea level. Unlike U.S. cities, middle and upper class neighborhoods are in the center of the metropolitan area, with poorer people living on the outskirts.
Chileans demonstrate a desire for spiritual growth. In 2012, FMI reported 1,470 first-time decisions for Christ in Chile; 453 baptisms with the Holy Spirit; 10 new congregations planted; and a total of 168 churches and meeting places throughout the nation.
“I think God deposits love in our hearts for a certain group of people,” Lee says of his admiration for the people of Chile. “While I love my country and have many friends in the States, I am equally satisfied hanging out with Latin Americans.”
“Growing up in the region produced an affinity for Latin Americans,” Lisa adds. “I have spent more than half of my life here.”
The Vision for Chile
The couple spends the majority of their time training 150 pastors, many who work with congregations averaging 50 people. Last year, the Schnabels conducted nine training events on such subjects as mentoring, healing, prophecy and counseling people with addictions.
The Schnabels also mentored half a dozen Chilean facilitators during training events and conducted research that will help future urban church planters. Working with itinerant pastor and church planter Daniel A. Brown, Lee also helped develop the nation’s first district pastoral licensing program.
Among the couple’s long-term goals is working with the Foursquare Chilean board to develop an indigenous in-service program. They are currently training a team to handle each of eight major regions. This means installing at least two facilitators per district to overcome Chile’s geographical challenges—though only averaging 110 miles in width, its coastline spans 2,700 miles.
“Once we develop a team to handle the major regions, we will pull out so that the Chileans take full responsibility,” Lee explains. “This will have a degree of pain since we love living here, but staying too long will inhibit their development.”
Challenges and Blessings
Although Foursquare churches in Chile average fewer than 60 members, evangelicals number nearly 20 percent of the population (17.5 million). The growth of the evangelical population comes with the temptation to exercise political power and depend on human means to accomplish God’s purposes, Lee says.
“Chile is also a very stratified society based on social class,” Lee notes. “One’s high school and college will determine who your friends are, and what kind of jobs you can secure during your entire adult life.”
Despite the challenges, the Schnabels see some exciting things happening. During a seminar on pastoral counseling in early May, for example, they observed Chilean pastors expressing a desire to have friends in ministry who can provide accountability and encouragement for the moral and ethical challenges they face.
Lee calls it a “huge breakthrough” to see leaders break out of the nation’s traditional approach to the pastoral role, a spillover of the respect Catholic priests enjoy. However, elevation in others’ eyes often leaves church leaders feeling isolated.
“Because these are seasoned pastors expressing this desire in front of each other, it holds out the promise of a lifestyle of friendship and accountability,” Lee says. “That’s critical to the overall health of the church. If we’re isolated, we’re easily defeated.”
How to Pray for the Schnabels
“Pray for wisdom for introducing an effective change strategy,” Lee shares. “We need to provide a smooth transition toward having Chileans staff, operate and finance the in-service training programs.”
The couple also wants to form partnerships, where churches not only support them with prayer and finances, but also send teaching teams to Chile. This is a two-way street, Lee notes, meaning they also try to sow into their partners’ works.
How to Bless the Schnabels
Lee requests donations to the Global Mission Fund, which he says provides 40 percent of the resources needed to develop their leadership-training program.
Foursquare missionaries are always encouraged by and grateful for any prayers and correspondence they receive. Whether it’s a gift sent on a holiday, or simply a letter or note of encouragement, you can make a difference by expressing your support in a practical way.
To send correspondence to the Schnabels, send them an email or write to them at the following address:
Lee and Lisa Schnabel
Avenida Presidente Riesco 2965, Dept. 42
Comuna Las Condes
For more about FMI, visit the World Missions Map online.
You can also watch a video interview with Lee and Lisa Schnabel, and hear them tell the story of one Chilean women whose blind eye was healed when Lee and local pastors prayed for her. Visit The Foursquare Church’s Vimeo page, and watch “Prayer Brings Miraculous Healing.”
By: Ken Walker, a freelance writer living in Huntington, W.Va.