The last few months we have learned that while we cannot always understand the why, we can't deny the presence of God in the mess. We gathered a few stories from during and after the flooding. You'll hear from two of our missionary teachers and their reflections of the flooding as it was happening. Then, Jack Horton shares a story that opened his eyes and heart, a story of hope from his recent Thanksgiving trip to the DR.
I sit on the edge of the musty, damp hospital cot, as she clings to my hand with all the strength left in her little body. She stares at me with wide eyes and I see the tears welling up in the corners. “Se valiente- be brave,” I tell her as they insert the IV. She is afraid; I see it in her eyes. I pray with her and smile, talking of the sun that has finally shown it’s long-awaited presence this morning, hoping to raise her failing spirits. I see the corners of her mouth turn up in a weak attempt at a smile.
And my heart fills with thoughts and emotions to which it’s hard to put words. I feel anger. Anger at the injustice of this whole situation. Where is her mother? Far away. Why? Who is looking after this one? An overburdened woman with a home bursting at the seams and a time-demanding job. How did we arrive at this moment? Lack of food. One second she was standing beside me, the little plastic bag of donated clothing in her hand, and then next, this wisp of a girl hit the pavement with a frightening thud.
I stroke her fragile hand and look out the rusty window at the sky, now shrouded once more with clouds and spewing forth its relentless rains, and I blink hard to keep back the tears. Have mercy, Lord, have mercy. I repeat over and over in my head.
People are suffering, homes are ravaged. It is hard not to feel despair as I slosh through the water-filled streets, taking in the disheartening view. I try to help pull out water-damaged items, heaping them into a massive bag of trash- ruined. I attempt in vain to rid some clothing of dirt, scrubbing it in the mirky water swirling about my feet. A sinking feeling of helplessness fills my stomach. And this is not my home. I have a warm dry place to return to, my things are all in tact. How must they feel? What can be done?
Slowly, I work the brush through her snarled hair, gently coaxing the curls into a pony tail. It’s the first time I’ve seen her looking clean and well-kept in a long while. She wraps her arms around my waist and I hug her back, my thoughts far away. This little one grieves my heart. This precious one in my arms- was expelled from Makarios last year for lack of attendance. No one was there to wake her in the morning and send her two minutes down the road to school. She seeks out my affection. My heart breaks. What will become of these girls? What will it take to break the cycle of brokenness?
His smile is contagious and his energy never runs out. Everyone knows him by a silly, but catchy nickname from a song. I love this kid. He throws his arms around me with a wide-eyed grin, and begins to chatter a hundred miles an hour. Just two days ago, his house was filled to the rim with floodwaters, forcing he and his sister to evacuate. The two have been staying ever since at the Mak house, while their father figures out what to do about their loss. For a while now, this boy has occupied a special corner of my heart. Just two years ago, he lost his mom. I feel it in the way he hugs me, yearning for that motherly touch. I see it in the way he is eager to show me what he knows, to make me proud. And who am I? Just a teacher he knows from school. Just someone who he sits with during bible class at church. This boy has already lost one of the most important people in his life and now, most of his earthly possessions. And yet, despite these unbelievable hardships, he has a hopeful spring in his step, a joyful lilt to his voice. He is special, I see it. And I wonder what plans the Lord has for this passionate little kid.
But for now, the realities of the past few days hang heavy. There is little to do but wait. Wait for the end of the rain. Wait for things to dry. And so we wait and offer these two what little we can- shelter, food, love. And I wish that it was more. How I wish I could make all things right again.
These are just a few of the many moments in the past three long days that have sent my heart and mind into a whirl. I am overwhelmed at the need. I am angry at the negligence. I am heartbroken at the loss.
Each situation presents a new why. Why are children unattended? Why is their so much damage and loss? Why are the rains ceasing to let up? Why can’t I do more?
But there are also moments of hope, like little flashes of light in the bleak darkness: -Seeing the church join forces to gather and distribute donations and food. -The fleeting glimpses of sunlight that have peeked their way through this day, bringing deep sighs of relief. -The blessing of the Mak house and the refuge it has provided to various displaced children. -The sweet pajama-clad moments of snuggling while I read the story of the great flood to some of the little bitties last night, reminding them of God’s promise to never again cover the earth in water.
I have to dwell on these moments. I have to give God thanks for them. I have to trust in His sovereignty. If I don’t, I will crumble; the despair will win. But, I know better. I know my God.
While I can’t understand the suffering, while there will always be a never-ending string of why’s, while the rain may not ease for a while, I know there is hope. Because my God is good. He is faithful. And He sees. Pray that I and all those around me would cling ever more to these truths.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
This past week has felt like it has been thing after thing. Need after need. And I am so thankful to be surrounded by our church body who has been constantly helping, giving advice and loving those affected. It is easy to get defeated in it all. To feel like I just don’t even know where to begin to help and to question every decision we make for it’s long term effects. But God has been constantly reminding me of His goodness in it all. In the wisdom of being still and letting Him fight. That there is beauty in the broken things. The song, “The Broken Beautiful” by Ellie Holcomb has been a necessary reminder of God’s promises and goodness.
“That Your love will never change,
that there’s healing in your name
That You can take broken things,
and make them beautiful
You took my shame
And You walked out of the grave
So Your love can take broken things
and make them beautiful”
God has done so much, and is still in control. And even when things seem to just be too broken and I want to doubt that God cares, I am reminded by the sweet moments. Some of the most beautiful moments that have happened in the past week, couldn’t have happened without the brokenness. And for that, I give thanks for each situation because God’s plans are more profound than what I can see myself.
While walking through Tamarindo Monday afternoon we stopped at the house of a Mak student and had the opportunity to walk through his house to see his backyard. What we saw instead were the remnants of his backyard. Much of it had recently been washed into the Camu by the flooding and there was only about 10 or 15 feet of land left between a descent into the river and his house. A good part of the yard was taken up by a palm tree, which was the child’s main concern…if the tree went it would likely take much of the backyard, and possibly house, with it as it uprooted the surrounding soil.
I was one of the last group members to walk through the student’s home, but when I came back to the front, his mom had just walked up and was speaking to a really confused group of high schoolers (it was everyone’s first time and they didn’t know much spanish at all…). Once Mrs. Majcher could come out to translate, I think the full weight of God’s faithfulness, love, and mercy hit everyone for the first time in the DR.
This woman was just going on and on about how she was just focused on God and His goodness. She spoke about how she trusted completely in His plan and mercy even as her house sat on the verge of collapse. She also spoke briefly on how thankful she was for what she had.
This, I’ll point out, is also something my mom picked up on as we were walking through the woman’s house earlier. My mom noticed that the woman had her nice little tea cups (not much by American standards) hung up and on display in her kitchen. She had her living room straightened and it hit my mom that she was just as proud of he home and the blessings she’s received from the Lord as we were, and those are the things she wanted to display for people.
Anyhow, it was cool to watch a bunch of DR first timers hit by the amount of faith that was present in that place. It’s so much more in your face. It was made more poignant by the fact that Darren’s sermon the day before had been about focus, and where you’re putting/placing your faith and thoughts during the storm. He referenced Matthew and Peter’s walking on the water and a personal story, but but it was just really cool to see that faith played out in the real world by someone who had literally, and would likely again soon, been through a terrible storm…not to mention all the other metaphorical “storms” I’m sure she was going through.
We had the opportunity to pray over her, her home and her family. Just cool to see faith lived out so brilliantly in the DR.
By Margaret and Doug Beck
One of the ways we can see how God is moving during short term trips is by hearing first hand from those who have stayed in the Mak House. We tell every team who comes to serve that we want to create an environment in the MAK House where they can encounter God in new and fresh ways. On the bookshelf in the main room of the MAK House, we proudly display our guest books from the past 11 years! Reading through those books gives us a beautiful display of what God has been doing in the Dominican Republic through Makarios. What an awesome privilege it is to serve alongside others from all over the United States. Such a beautiful representation of the body of Christ working together to make His Name great. I hope you’ll be encouraged as you read just a few excerpts taken from the Mak House guest book.
“We had a great time during our stay at the Mak House. We have felt totally blessed during our time here through the strengthening of our marriage, aligning our thoughts and dreams with one another, serving and being touched by God’s children in what had felt previously like another world… Thank You…”
“Thank you for everything this week. Your hospitality and servant hearts were a blessing to me and the whole team. Thanks for sharing your home, your stories, your gifts, and your passion for the people here with us. It was a joy to serve alongside you this week, and God used it to teach me so much…”
“Thank you so much for your sincere hospitality. The setting y’all set at the house made our group interactions feel like a family effort…”
“Thank you thank you for the work Makarios is doing for the Dominican people and thank you for letting me be a part of it. I know I will never look at the world, relationships, and poverty with
the same eyes…”
“Muchas Gracias for everything- from debriefing us and giving us helpful tips, to the great meals, to the wonderful fellowship, to allowing us to see and understand the greater vision of Makaios and to seeing God’s agape love in action…”
“Thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality and fun-loving personalities. Our team is so thankful for the ways you have shared your lives with us and so openly and easily were so accepting and fun. God moved in crazy ways…and I can’t wait to see the crazy and unfathomable things God is going to do!”
“Thank you for your incredible generosity this week and for investing so much of your time and hearts into our group. Your marriage and your love for Jesus is so incredible to be around and to learn from. I appreciate your kindness and willingness to serve here for the sake of the gospel.”
“Thank you so much for letting us come and make the MakHouse our second home…”
“To everyone that gets the privilege to go on this amazing trip, we are all family here. No matter where we’ve come from or what we’ve been through, we have the Mak House, this place, and these kids who will keep us connected forever. There is so much love to be given and received…”
“Thank you for making the Mak House an oasis of peace for our group…”
“I have been so encouraged seeing the ministry Makarios has here. Not simply providing education for children in need, but serving them and meeting the deepest needs they have…And, not giving in a way that is most fun and instant gratification, but in a way that addresses the issues at hand...”
Makarios loves each and every person that has stayed at the MakHouse and are so encouraged by their stories and their experiences here. The Lord is doing big things in the Dominican Republic, and the Mak House is only one of the places where He is moving. We hope that reading through these excerpts have given you a peek into the works that God is doing through the ministry of Makarios and we pray that they encourage you as much as they encourage us.
By Doug and Margaret Beck
One of the things God has blessed us with here at Makarios is a mission house to host our teams who
come to bless the ministry. The Mak House, as its known, is located 5 or 10 minutes from the Makarios school and has hosted over 1500 people in its 6 year existence. That’s a lot of beds made, toilets fixed, gates locked and floors swept! Thankfully, God has blessed us in an even bigger way with a wonderful group of fellow workers who take care and help us maintain the Mak House on a daily basis.
One of our dearest friends here is Lucia, who together with her son Abram form our housekeeping
crew. They are in charge of keeping the house clean and they do their work with excellence. On a
typical week, there are 30 or 40 people in the house, and Lucia and Abram are at the house daily to
clean sheets, make beds, mop floors and keep things in order- all with smiles on their faces! Often Lucia will cook a dinner or two for our groups in addition to her duties during the day. Margaret often says to Lucia “If you leave Makarios, I’m leaving too!” which speaks to how important she is to us and our ministry here. Lucia is an excellent seamstress and enjoys making clothing and accessories when not at work. Abram enjoys listening to music and making jewelry, and his jewelry is always a popular item at the Mak Store. Lucia and Abram are not the only family members who work for Makarios. Lucia’s sister, son, daughter-in- law, and sister-in- law all work for the ministry too, so their family is a huge part of our family as well.
To keep things safe during the night, we have our friends Miguel and Josue who serve as our
“Watchies”. In the Dominican Republic “watchies” are essentially security guards who keep an eye on
things at a house or business. They work between 8pm and 6am and are in charge of making sure our
groups stay safe during their time at the house. Miguel might be the hardest working man we’ve ever
met; oftentimes he comes to the house in his off time just to check on us or to do some odd job at the house. He also loves to bring sugar cane and coconuts to the groups and can usually be heard listening to the Bible on CD while he is working. We are thankful for Josue who diligently works at the Mak House, too. He can be seen walking around the house making his rounds at all hours of the night. It is also a blessing to hear him singing a praise song as he is working. Josue is a soft-spoken individual with akind smile and gentle demeanor. He loves theology and reading/studying Scripture and does his job very well.
As you might guess with so many people coming through our doors, things tend to break or wear down at the Mak House. For that we have Emanuel, or “Chorro” as he is called, to help us out. Chorro’s main job is the Maintenance Director at the Makarios school, but he is also in charge of repairing and taking care of the many working parts of the ministry house. We’ve often called upon him very late at night or during the early morning hours to take care of a maintenance emergency, and he always comes to help with a big grin and a friendly greeting. Chorro and his family live right across the street from us, so at least his commute to the house is quick! He loves basketball and riding and fixing motorcycles.
As we think about the team that the Lord has assembled, we are reminded of Colossians 3:23:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…” Lucia, Abram, Chorro,
Miguel and Josue are wonderful examples of modeling this Biblical truth. We truthfully could not do what God has called us to do without these friends and fellow workers. Most of their work is behind the scenes, but we know the hard work and love that they put into every little detail in order to help make Makarios a better organization as we serve God together.
Have you been blessed by watching one or all of these "hands and feet" in action during your stay at the MAK house? If so, leave a comment telling what you love about these hardworking, loving people!
After several days of orientation in Austin, today is the day that the Makarios summer interns land on the ground in the D.R. , and we could not be more excited to have them here! The summer interns will be an integral part of the Makarios team during one of the busiest times of the year in which short term teams from our partner churches will also be on the ground with us each week, soccer camp will be in full swing and the school will be cultivating hearts and minds during the summer session. We are elated to have 7 sets of fresh eyes, willing and able bodies to share in the labor, and God seeking individuals that we can pour into as well, giving them not just a flavorful taste but a hearty bite of the Makarios mission. Without further delay, let us introduce and welcome our summer interns!
I've been on three previous one week trips to the DR with Makarios when I was in high school. So, I've only been for a total of three weeks, but those three weeks profoundly impacted my life and my goals. During those three weeks I spent my time with the work crew building driveways and tool sheds, and through that I gained a real passion for physically helping people. Naturally, the DR also gave me a real passion for travel and cultures that are foreign to my own. Those things, along with my affinity for science and Makarios' undying desire to weave God and His good news into every part of its ministry, has led me to pursue a career in medicine with hopes of taking it, and Christ, abroad. So, this summer internship means a lot more to me than just a cool summer abroad. It's a real chance to give back to a people and a place that have influenced me to help people physically and spiritually around the world.
I just completed my sophomore year at Baylor University and will be a junior in the Fall of 2016. In Waco, I work as an intern with the youth ministry at Highland Baptist Church. I have been on three week-long mission trips with Makarios before. Those trips made a huge impact on my personal relationship with God. While there, I built strong relationships with Makarios staff members and kids which led me to feeling called to apply for an internship with Makarios. I applied to this internship because I am passionate about the calling to carry the Gospel to the ends of the Earth, and because I believe in what Makarios is doing. I love that Makarios puts Christ first, focuses primarily on spiritual needs of people rather than just their physical needs, and empowers individuals within the community to make a difference, all for God’s glory. All that being said, I am beyond excited to be serving alongside Makarios this summer!
I actually heard about Makarios for the first time in January. I’ve had a desire in my
heart to experience long-term mission work at some point before I graduate college.
I began to search for different ministries and stumbled upon Makarios on Austin
Ridge and Austin Stone’s website. From there, I contacted Makarios and started
interviewing. As much prayer and thought went into the process I realized more and
more that God was opening doors.
I want to intern at Makarios for three main reasons. First, because of my God-given
desire to further His Kingdom in the hope that the people of the Dominican Republic
would have LIFE and know the One that created them. Secondly, I didn’t want my
summer to be about me. I wanted my eyes off of myself and instead on others.
Lastly, I desire to be challenged and pushed completely out of my comfort zone. I
think I experience the greatest growth when I am in desperate need for the Lord and
am relying on Him fully.
I am incredibly excited for this summer at Makarios. I know He is going to strip me
of much and teach me endless lessons. I can’t wait to watch Him move.
I will be returning to the DR for the second time this summer. During my first visit last January I was baptized on the beach by my youth pastor from the Fellowship. Ever since then the Lord has made a special place in my heart for the DR. This summer I am looking forward to loving on sweet kids and pursuing Jesus with everything that I have. My prayer for my time in the Dominican is that I would focus on being deeply dependent on The Lord more than any other thing in this world.
Hello! My name is Elysa Wolf, and I grew up in Austin, TX, and just finished my freshman year at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I am studying Bio-Chemistry with a minor in Integrative Biotechnology. I am also swimming with the Calvin Knights Swim Team. My roots with Makarios began with the Austin Stone Church Youth as I had the privilege of serving through week long Mission Trips to the Dominican Republic in the summers of 2013, 2014, and 2015. God developed a special place in my heart for the children and communities that Makarios serves, and it gives me great joy to have this opportunity to continue to serve alongside Makarios with this wonderful team. My prayer is that God will draw me near to Him and show me how to best serve the people in the Dominican Republic as well as the groups who will be joining us throughout the summer. I look forward to seeing the amazing work that God has planned and have already been praying for an open heart to all that God desires to teach me!
I am beyond excited to be spending my summer in the Dominican Republic. In fact, this will be
the first time in my life where I will be abroad for an extended period of time. Currently, I am an
incoming sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin studying Business Honors and Finance. I first
heard about this opportunity from an older member of my fraternity and immediately felt led to pursue it. I am most excited about the opportunity to learn more about the Lord and who He has created me tobe through serving the people of the Dominican Republic. I am looking forward to helping the Makarios staff run the soccer camp and encouraging the Makarios students to seek the Lord. Overall, I am counting down the days til I am in the Dominican – Hasta Pronto!
Hi! I am a rising sophomore at UT, studying Business and Plan II. Outside of the classroom, I'm involved in Cru and my sorority, Tri Delta. When I first heard about Makarios and its mission in the D.R., I was so excited! In high school I was involved in a mentorship program that worked with at-risk youth and since then, I've become increasingly passionate about education! I've witnessed the opportunities and change education can bring to peoples' lives. I'm excited to work for an organization that shares this passion. Ultimately though, I'm most excited about the Gospel driven work of Makarios. I can't wait to share Christ and the incomparable hope and joy He offers with kids. What Christ offers is and will always be infinitely greater!
Welcome to the D.R. and to the Makarios family Summer Interns! We can't wait to serve alongside you sharing the love of Christ in all that we do!
by Jenna Musgrove
What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘outreach’? A church evangelism event? A local food drive? A summer youth program? It’s easy to think of outreach as a planned activity or event, something you participate in every once in a while to serve those in need. But is that really what it ought to be?
As a believer, we have many calls. The call to grow in sanctification. The call to glorify God with our lives. The call to serve in the church. And, of course, probably the most famous call of all- to go and preach the gospel, making disciples of all nations ( Matt 28:19-20). That, my friends, is your call to outreach. Or better put, to reach out. We are commanded to extend truth and grace to those lost in sin and darkness.
But, what does that look like? Considering our best example for life and ministry is Jesus Himself, we must first examine how He ordered His days. When reading through the gospels, it seems evident that to Christ, outreach was an interwoven part of His everyday life. It wasn’t an organized event. It didn’t occur once every couple of weeks. I find it noteworthy that more often than not, Jesus ministered to the lost in the most ordinary and unplanned moments. In fact, most of the crucial interactions in Christ’s ministry happened while He was simply passing by, walking through a city, or traveling from one place to another.
It is in those “insignificant” moments where we cross paths with others that we are presented with countless opportunities to reach out.
Now that’s all easily said, but let’s bring it onto a more practical level. What exactly does that look like? What does it require? Please hear me say that I am nowhere near perfect and my attempts to live intentionally and gospel-focused are often befuddled by my own shortcomings, lack of courage, and selfishness. Even as I wrote this, I was deeply convicted over the areas in which I struggle and fail to reach out. But, for the sake of painting a picture, allow me to share a few examples from my own everyday, routine moments.
Snapshot #1: The little moments matter
Our next-door neighbors are a vivacious, friendly European couple. The girl moved here to work for a health center and her boyfriend followed to be with her, soon after joining the local circus as a trapeze artist (just your average neighbors, right?). Every time we see them, it’s in passing. She’s coming home from work, he’s leaving to practice, we’re heading out to run errands, etc. But in those moments of hi’s and bye’s, we have little opportunities to reach out, to show the love of Christ. We chat, we ask questions, we share tidbits of our days. And every now and then, we get a chance to linger and dig deeper. In addition to these sprinklings of conversations, they also witness the way we live our lives by default as our neighbors. For example, every Friday afternoon they see my Bible study girls come and go like a herd of giggling, tromping elephants. In fact, they once asked me if our organization required us to study the Bible, since it seemed they always saw us leading, going to, or participating in some form of Bible study. Brief interactions, quick conversations, touches of outreach. Simply living our daily lives. Such small things. But in God’s sovereign perspective and plan, even the littlest of things matter. Who can say what foundation is being laid or what the Lord has in store for this relationship? As a matter of fact, we’ve now got pending plans to head to the circus in the near future.
Snapshot #2: The sacrifice of time
Saturday mornings for Adrienne and I consist of spending time with a handful of kids from Tamarindo. What began as a request for a little ‘tour’ of their community to better gain our bearings and begin relationships, quickly turned into a weekly routine. Now, somewhere between 9 and 9:30 am, we receive a loud rap at the door and know our slow morning of coffee and time in the Word has ended. What then ensues is fairly unpredictable, from walks through the community, read-alouds with kids we gather on the way, rainy day pancake breakfasts, or a much-needed hair washing in the tub. During this handful of hours, we reach out to these four particular kids who have become very dear to us, and more often than not, encounter a variety of other people along the way. These mornings are fun and sweet, but also purposeful. We choose to give of our time to invest in these kids, to live out the love of Christ, to look beyond ourselves, to plant tiny seeds that we hope one day will produce an eternal harvest.
Snapshot #3: Being intentional
Sunday afternoons, you might see Adrienne and I walking to the colmado (think Dominican 7/11) or catching a motorcycle taxi to the local mercado to get our weekly groceries. To any observing eye, there may appear to be no particular rhyme or reason to this ritual other than the necessity to purchase food. And to those who know I own a car, it might seem strange or even foolish to opt for public transportation over my own vehicle. In addition, fellow Americans could wonder why we don’t head to a bigger nearby city to find a wider variety of products and familiar brands. But, our decision to shop this way was actually made as a conscious effort to build relationships within our community, to create opportunities for conversation, and to live with a touch of solidarity with those we serve. As a result, we’ve been able to establish a budding friendship with the sweet couple that owns our local colmado. After various times making small-talk, sharing greetings and a smile, and simply taking interest, eventually we were invited to their home for lunch. But it took intentionality. Repetition. Time. And a recognition that even the most routine activities of life (such as grocery shopping) can be precious opportunities in the eternal kingdom.
Snapshot #4: It’s a choice
At least once a week, I receive a familiar knock on the door from a local wandering street kid looking for a way to fill his empty belly. And every time he visits, I have a choice to make. Will I open the door, knowing the next half hour of my evening will be taken sitting on the stoop chatting with my little friend until he manages to direct the conversation to his real desire, food? And then, I’ll be faced with the ever-difficult decision of either sharing what I have to satisfy his hunger or saying a gentle no so as not to develop a dependent relationship. OR, I can ignore the knock altogether and pretend I’m not home, continuing in whatever task is at hand, and avoiding the inevitable tough calls that ensue. In those moments, I am presented with a choice. Ease or sacrifice. Stay in or reach out. The opportunity is laid before me, how I respond is up to me.
Why do I share all of this? My hope is to challenge your perspective on everyday life, to show you that outreach is not as complicated or distant as you maybe thought. My prayer is that you’ll begin to have eyes to see the little opportunities that come across your path each day. In the end, the choice is yours. Will you reach out?
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
by Richie Sparling, Outreach Director
June 15, 2016 we will celebrate the completion of our third year of marriage. Who would have ever thought we would be teaching a marriage class to couples who have upwards of 15 years of marriage under their belts? Certainly not us!! And yet this is a door that God has opened for us and we have stepped through.
In the fall of 2012 Gabrielle and I were privileged to participate in a fantastic premarital class with our home church. The title of the class is 2-1 Premarital ministry, but the roots of the class go all the way back some 15 years or so to a Divorce recover class. With the success of the Divorce recovery ministry, the facilitators began to realize that rather than just minister to those suffering from Divorce and broken marriages, they had a responsibility to prevent this terrible end result to marriage. Therefore they worked backwards, using all the research from their time navigating various situations of divorce, and put into a premarital class all the reasons for which couples get divorced. What they realized was that if they could help couples communicate through these issues prior to marriage, in the long run they could help prevent those same issues from resulting in divorce years down the road. They have also helped couples realize the purpose of marriage, its eternal impact and God's design, and the seriousness of the commitment and pact they are making with another sinful human being. In this way challenging couples to truly discover their compatibility and loyalty to the idea of commitment with each other for life.
Needless to say, the class is incredible. It had a profound impact on our relationship and marriage. Not to say that without the class we would be failing in our marriage, but the benefit to our marriage has been amazing.
We brought the class materials with us to the Dominican Republic because we planned on continuing to use them in our marriage. Not two months into our time here, the Lord opened the door for us to break out our binder and share with a young couple about to get married the information that had been given to us. Essentially we went through the entire class with this couple and they loved it! From there, and from their own personal testimony, the word spread and we had more opportunities to share our knowledge. I even spoke at a Valentines day dinner for couples of our church here in Montellano ...almost ALL of the couples from our church. Then I was asked to offer a mini conference to couples from the church.
With all of these opportunities, and how incredibly receptive the couples who sat through these sessions were to the teaching, including the church leaders from various churches, I felt like the Lord was opening the door for me to offer the full 11 week class. I went to the pastors and proposed a plan, invited a young couple from Makarios about to get married, several newly married couples, a couple Gabrielle and I had been mentoring and also asked the pastor to select other couples from leadership in the church to take the class. In my proposal to the church leaders, I laid out a vision for the church to continue the class and offer it as a premarital class to couples from their church and outside the church, that it would not only be a blessing to marriages, but a tool to share the gospel as marriage is presented as an image of Christ and the Church.
Five weeks ago we started with 16 couples and Pastor Pedro Marrero stood before the class and announced that many of them had been invited to take the class, not just so that it would benefit their marriages, but so that after taking the class they could then teach it as the church is planning on making it part of their regular ministry.
Wow!!! What a privilege to have a front row seat to God's working! We are simply the instruments God chose to use to accomplish His work, because there is nothing special about who we are or our background that sets us apart and that anyone would look at us and say "with all your experience you should teach a marriage class". But we praise God for the work He is doing and are so thankful for how He will continue to use the ministry started almost 20 years ago for His glory.
We are into our 6th week and each session has been more and more incredible! Praise the Lord for what He has done and will continue to do!
Outreach happens in various forms within Makarios and we are excited to see how this area develops in the future as relationships are forged and fortified through time, effort, energy and love.
by Adrienne Christian
I joined the Makarios family officially in October of 2015. As a Christian and missionary I have been called to share His gospel to those lost, to encourage those who may be young in their faith, and to educate those who may otherwise not have the opportunity.
In the midst of an environment of broken families, physical and spiritual poverty, and the lack of education, I often wonder what exactly it looks like to love those in my community well. What does it mean to love like Christ loved me? He, being God, became a man and died on a cross to pay for my sins. What does it mean for me to sacrifice? What does it mean to love my neighbor as myself or to love my enemies? How does it look to make sacrifices in order to walk alongside those who live in my neighborhood? How do I love my neighbors who don't know Christ? How do I love those families who are struggling spiritually or those with whom I come in contact who are sick? How do I love my students as Jesus would love them even when it is hard?
In Luke 10, Jesus tells a lawyer that the way to eternal life is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind and he concludes saying love your neighbor as yourselves.
How should I love?
I should love God first… and I should love Him with all of myself.
The most important thing before serving, before educating, before anything else is to love God with everything we have.
For me, that looks like reading daily and stretching myself to know God more and more and grow in my trust in His holy plan. Sometimes it means going against the grain to please God instead of man. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul says that we should present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God… and that we should not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewal of our minds… and then we will be able to discern what God's good and perfect will is.
We show love first by loving God.
Later in the parable in Luke, Jesus tells the lawyer something that is hard and sometimes even uncomfortable. He says that a close second to him loving God first is loving his neighbor. And, not that he should just love his neighbor but he should love his neighbor as himself.
In this community, when coming across poverty, the broken hearted, spiritual dryness, spiritual warfare, and lack of good education, I think to myself, how would I want to be loved? How would I feel loved? What makes me grateful to others when I'm sick, or hurt, or sad?
Jesus explains what it means to love in Luke 10 by telling a parable so that the young lawyer to whom he was speaking could understand better. He tells about the Samaritan who found a severely injured man on the side of the road. Unlike a few others who passed by and ignored the injured man, the Samaritan showed mercy and compassion.
Loving my neighbor means following the Samaritan's example.
The Good Samaritan stopped.
He gave up his donkey.
He sacrificed time.
He sacrificed money.
He sacrificed reputation in helping someone that was from a rejected culture.
And he sacrificed whatever his plans were for that day.
How then should I love?
I should love God first, and then I should love those around me as I would want to be loved… showing them mercy, compassion, and sacrifice. I should stop, listen, relate and sacrifice.
At Makarios, everyone has their own story of how they came to know the Lord and how they came to serve here. Everyone is in a different place in their spiritual journey. But first, we all love God. We are thankful for who He is and what He has done, and we strive to know Him better by reading His word and growing in our understanding of who He is. We pray together, read the Word together, and praise together.
Second, we love our neighbors. Whether it's missionaries walking alongside newlyweds by advising, comforting and spending time together, staff providing for the sick, neighbors providing transportation for those in their community who don't have a vehicle, or even relating to those who are the cultural outcasts, the Makarios family strives to be a blessing to the community around us. I see the compassion shown to the students who are struggling and the teachers who take extra time to help with their homework. I see the mercy shown by disciplinarians who forgive even when it's undeserved, and I see the sacrifice made by all staff to be able to serve those in need here in Montellano.
How should we love?
If we have accepted Jesus Christ, God has shown each of us compassion, mercy, and sacrifice by dying on the cross for our sins. We should love Him. Then, we have the choice to stop, listen and make a sacrifice to love those around us just like the Good Samaritan did in Jesus' parable.
The true question is will we take the challenge and love like God first loved us?
by Adrienne Christian
Pancho Mateo and Chichigua are two of the communities that Makarios serves where the majority of Makarios students live. Here are some fast facts about each community along with some prayer requests given by some Makarios staff who live in each one.
NAME: comes from the name of the first man who lived in the community
POPULATION: unknown (possibly between 1,000 and 2,000)
NATIONALITY: Haitian and Dominican
CHURCHES: 4 (one that is in creole)
HOW THEY GET TO MAK: walking, crossing the river, or taking a moto taxi
HOME LANGUAGE: Haitian Creole or Spanish
MAK STAFF IN PANCHO: 3
FAVORITE ACTIVITIES: soccer and basketball
PANCHO & MAK: It’s the community where Makarios started teaching kids English and Bible classes out of a little house
FAST FACT: Pancho has had 24 hour electricity for two months now. The director of the Electric Company is part of the Mateo family.
NAME: Chichigua is the Spanish word for “kite”
NATIONALITY: 99% Haitian; 1 Dominican family
CHURCHES: 1 (service is led in Creole)
HOW THEY GET TO MAK: in the Mak van
HOME LANGUAGE: mostly Creole
MAK STAFF IN CHICHIGUA: 1
FAVORITE ACTIVITIES: soccer, dominoes, and spending time together
ELECTRICY: around 12 hours a day
FAST FACT: The Haitians in Chichigua were originally brought into the community to work the sugar cane fields. The second and third generations currently live there.
EDUCATING, EMPOWERING & LOVING OUR COMMUNITIES.
Did you know that Makarios has a monthly outreach program for parents in order to share Biblical truths about how to live healthy lives, take care of the environment around us, and raise kids?
And did you know that teachers visit families once a month with the purpose of updating parents about their children and also to share about Christ?
And did you know that Makarios kids 5th grade and above attend a local Christian school attached to a local church?
by Rachel Sawyer
There are four distinct communities that Makarios serves in: Chichigua, Pancho Mateo, Tamarindo and Los Ciruelos. Each of these communities has a special place in the hearts of Makarianos, one represents the inspiration, one is the site of the first Makarios school, one is the current neighborhood of the school, and the other is the location of lodging for our groups. Today, we are going to look a little closer into the two fruity ones: Tamarindo (a sweet and tangy fruit) and Los Ciruelos ("the plum trees".)
Tamarindo is the neighborhood immediately surrounding the current Mak school. With many houses peeking in just feet from the school and all around the perimeter, Tamarindo is a maze of closely linked houses just on the edge of Montellano. The majority of the students that currently attend Colegio Makarios are from Tamarindo. Interestingly enough, Tamarindo was not initially part of the scope of neighborhoods that Makarios planned on working in. However, when the availability of land coupled with the availability of an already established building foundation, which is the most expensive part of any building project, happened, Tamarindo came into focus front and center, and is now truly the hub of many Makarios functions.
Colegio Makarios clearly has the cutest neighbors (and in this case, students) ever! The window from the back of their house is inches from the Makarios fence line. Not all of our neighbors in Tamarindo are quite this close, but atleast a handful of them are reach - out - and - touch distance. Photo Credit: Rachel Sawyer
Los Ciruelos was also not originally a part of the picture of Makarios because the neighborhood is comprised of mostly middle class Dominicans who already had other options for schooling. However, when affordable land was found in this bustling little neighborhood, Makarios expanded its reach to Los Ciruelos, bringing in hundreds of people throughout the year to serve alongside Makarios, staying in the MAK house. Along with the MAK house host couple, these visitors, while only here for a week at a time, have been instrumental in loving on and providing activities and bible teaching for the kids of Los Ciruelos. Almost every group spends their "down time" playing with neighborhood kids, and providing a Mak.comm (Mak community) experience with bible stories, skits, crafts, etc.
The size of Mak house is matched in heart by the size of the relationships that past and present staff have built and continue to build within the community of Los Ciruelos. Every single host couple that has done life in the Mak house and in the community of Los Ciruelos has intentionally poured into relationships in this neighborhood. One of these relationships that has been a constant thread in the life of the Mak house hosts has resulted in the "adoption" of a particular community member, not in terms of legality, but in terms of love, discipleship, accountability and shepherding a heart for Christ in the life of someone special, a Makariana Extraordinaire. If you've met S, you know that her English is fabulous (thanks to a former Mak house couple that taught her!), her personality full of vigor and her heart tender for the Lord beats strong.
All of our communities are as special as the people living in them. We are privileged to love and serve in such gracious, hospitable places. Come on a trip to serve with Makarios and you will see for yourself how blessed we are to love, educate and empower in these communities!
By Briana Sadowski, Cedarville University group member, guest post
We’re on the way back, and for me this time on the plane is always one of
reflecting on all that I saw, heard, and learned here in another country. First of all,
it’s important to mention that not all countries in one region are the same. There
can be a tendency to think that – for example – cultures are the same in all of
Central America, a region not too large. However, each country and people has
their own culture. This I learned since my first trip to the Dominican Republic.
When someone asks me how to describe the people and place of the Dominican
Republic, I always answer with the same word: community. The idea of
community is not as common in more individualistic countries. I mean, we have
neighborhoods – a concept of living close to other families.
But what does community mean? The Dominican people know how to define it
well. For them, community means three things: sharing generously, living
together (physically and figuratively), and loving others.
First: sharing generously. It is so clear from the moment one arrives at a
community that all the members share what they have. If someone is sick,
another comes to prepare them food. If one child goes to a neighbor’s house, this
neighbor treats him as one of their own children. Even when someone is selling
goods or services (this happened to me as well), they give without thinking twice
about the cost. One woman that braids hair on the beaches for a living offered to
braid mine. I responded that the braids were indeed beautiful but that I hadn’t
brought money that day for anything, so I could not. Without even hesitating, she
answered me saying that she would prefer to do a favor for someone because
life is not all about money. So I sat down for a time with her, and as she braided
my hair we talked about her and her family. She did not have to offer me
anything, but she desired to show me love.
Next: living together. When we visited the communities, often we saw that they
were caring for each other all the time. We came to a house to help clean it out
with the man, and the neighbors not only came out and helped, but also were
making decisions for him. We would ask the neighbors questions and they would
respond in his place. Why? Because they all live life together, and know the
needs, preferences, and persons that they are living with.
Finally: loving others. Even though the community members literally have been
born and grown up in the same community (and therefore know each other quite
well), they open their doors so that other visitors or new guests can come in. I
think this part could be the most difficult to implement. They are very close to
each other, and have no obligation to allow or invite visitors, but they go ahead
and do so with love and care. They build and maintain relationships not only with
those within their own community but also with those outside that desire to get to
know them. This impacted me greatly because, being my second time visiting, I
saw that I could continue the relationships that I had the privilege to make with
those there, and I also had the chance to meet new people who with joy invited
me to share in their lives and begin to get to know them.
Dominicans have shown me a great picture of what a community looks like, and
although I do not live in towns built such as theirs, I too can invite others to enter
into my life, with the hope of maintaining relationships and sharing whether it be
materials, time, encouragement, etc. We have the power to create community
wherever we live!
"We have the power to create community wherever we live!
What have you observed about community where you are? If you've served with Makarios in the D.R. in the past and have a special take-away about what community looks like here, please comment!