DR Update 3
“I have been on this trip six times and have never seen the Spirit move in the way it has this week! Today was a day of great service to the local church. A focus of this trip has been to serve and empower the local church so it can grow and make a lasting impact in the region. The Lord is using us to display His love and intimate care for his creation.”
– Noah Byre
Every day is truly a gift from God and we don’t live like we know that. If you’ve ever been on a short term mission trip, you’ve definitely thought something along the lines of Wow, I can’t believe the incredible spirituality of the people who are full-time missionaries here! What we don’t seem to realize is that we are all called to be full-time missionaries. Some are called to serve a thousand miles away from their family and friends, and some are called to minister in their own communities. Our mission in life itself as Christians is to make disciples of Christ. This trip is stretching all of us in dozens of ways, but a major part of our struggle has to do with the fact that we don’t act like missionaries when we’re at home.
We spent the morning at Waters in the Desert, a ministry located in San Pedro and headed by one of our favorite translators, Dioser (Dio for short). WitD is essentially a day care facility for children of various ages. The ministry is staffed exclusively with volunteers. These ladies have huge hearts for the Lord’s work and they show it by sacrificing their weekdays to care for the village’s poorest children. We helped feed the kids during lunchtime and spent the rest of our time there performing skits and worshiping with the children as part of a VBS. They were mostly two to four years old, very energetic, and every single one was gorgeous!
The second half of the afternoon was more laid back. We got to visit the church of one of the SCORE volunteers and assist with their VBS. The teachers were fabulous and it was a joy to see the kids participating and having fun. The VBS was held in a former palace for a dictator that the DR had a few years back, but now it’s a church and is being used to spread Jesus!
Today we were supporting a local church in one of the poorest communities of Santo Domingo. We arrived by bus at the church location to find this church to be one of the nicest we had visited to date. The morning plans were to hold a VBS style worship event for the local children. We started the worship in song. The children of this community were absolutely darling. They were incredibly active, attentive and so energetic. It was obvious the church does a fantastic job preaching the word of God to these kids. They have a love for the Lord that radiates from them.
The theme of this event was the “Soldier of Christ.” Multiple times they chanted “We are soldiers for Christ” as they marched in place, proud salutes and smiles on their beautiful faces. As we have seen at every VBS like service, the children quickly picked up the songs we were teaching them. They jumped up and down, smiling and singing with all their energy. We presented the gospel, led them in assembling bracelets that symbolize the gospel and even put on a skit about Noah and the Ark. All the while, these beautiful children sat attentively. Some on the laps of Rock students, others holding hands of adults.
After lunch, the local pastor took the MBC team out in the community. We walked about a half mile or so from the church through one of the incredibly poor locations in the town. The conditions these people were living in are almost indescribable. The best way I can illustrate how they live would be to tell you they live in a landfill that has rivers of raw sewage flowing through it in places. Even though it would seem the residents of this area have little to be grateful for, they welcomed us as though a parade of dignitaries were coming to visit. We could hear them shouting in Spanish “here come the Americans!”
It really hit home when we arrived at the central point of the homes. Children came running out of the shacks wearing bracelets we helped them make in the morning. Those darling kids we held and sang with lived in these conditions. The very same children that were smiling and singing at the top of their lungs walked home from church to their homes in what I can best describe as a trash dump. On top of one home there was even a cross proudly displayed high in the air. Most of us from MBC were overcome with emotion.
We did some door-to-door evangelism in the area shortly thereafter. Four people came to Christ as a result of a gospel presentation we gave. We connected these four new Christians to the local church staff so they may help disciple them and help them grow in their new-found faith in Jesus.
Upon returning to the SCORE facility, some of us were discussing what we had witnessed. For some of us, the reality of the living conditions was quite a lot to emotionally process. One person offered a simple thought….Today, we made a difference. Today we loved their children. We may not know today what affect that has on their lives, but even dropping one pebble in a pond will send ripples to farthest edges. Perhaps loving the children and assisting the local church will foster hope in those people.
After a long but well-spent day, both teams joined the other church groups for SCORE night. We worshiped together, heard a great sermon from one of SCORE’s missionaries, and got another opportunity to support the Lily House (a ministry of SCORE towards rehabilitation for ex-prostitutes). There were baked goods, jewelry, and lots of great souvenirs. Please keep praying for us, that the last few days of this trip will be spent most effectively, and for growth for all of us.