by Richie Sparling, Outreach Coordinator
Imagine you worked for a ministry and someone handed you the reigns of "outreach" and asked you to design and lead what that looks like in the community(ies) in which the ministry serves. What questions would you ask to start the ball rolling? How would you distinguish and target the various groups of people living in that community? What programs would you establish to meet the needs of the various people groups? How would you define spiritual formation? What would your vision statement be like?
None of these questions have simple answers. Yet, is this not exactly the call Christ gave to each christian when he said in Matthew 28 "Go, into all the world and MAKE disciples of all nations"? Perhaps many of you reading this passage before focused on the "GO". However the real emphasis in this sentence is on the word "MAKE". In fact the "GO" is an assumed "go" probably better interpreted as: "while you are going". In other words, this great command is not meant only for missionaries and preachers who leave their home to go to another area of the world, but for all men and women who are called by His name to follow in His footsteps and make disciples.
So how are you answering this call in your life; in the community in which you live? We are asking some of these same questions as we seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ here on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. What process does someone go through in order to become a mature believer? Well, first they need exposure to the gospel. Then they need an invitation to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. Once they have committed their life to Christ they need encouragement, teaching from God's word, involvement in a local church for continued growth, and perseverance. Then, Lord willing, they themselves will become a disciple-maker leading others to a knowledge of the saving grace that is found only in Christ.
This is no easy process. There are snares and pitfalls along the way. There is a powerful enemy who desires to distract and destroy. BUT, we have a powerful God through whom all things are possible. Even the worst of sinners can find forgiveness for their sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. We know that we are not alone in this journey and when the job of making disciples seems too overwhelming, we can turn to the One who does the REAL work knowing that our struggle is not in vain because we serve a mighty and wonderful God.
Pray for God's work to be done here on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, and pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more workers into the fields because there is much work to do! Then answer the call for yourself, in your neighborhood, at your place of work, and even in your own home.
by Sarah Jane Ferrell, visiting group member
I didn’t want to go to the Dominican Republic. The trip, centered around volunteer work at a primary school, would have been perfect for a Spanish speaking, self proclaimed “kid person” who loved to travel. Unfortunately, I was none of those things. Lacking excitement, I stuffed a week’s worth of clothing into a carryon bag. The objective of the journey was service, but my mind was clouded by selfishness. As my friends bounced in their airplane seats, I sipped my tiny cup of water apprehensively. My passport received its very first stamp, but the experience was hasty, not at all magical like the movies make it out to be. No longer in los Estados Unidos, all familiarity was lost. I didn’t want to be in the Dominican Republic. As we left the airport, our van made its way through crowded streets. We passed speeding motorcycles that cared nothing about traffic laws and dance clubs blaring music in a language I didn’t understand. A hand reached through our window, hoping for a few pesos from us gringos. The November wind whipped through our hair, and I remained silent.
I spent my Thanksgiving in the Dominican Republic. Peeling, chopping, and stirring, my feet became sore from hours spent in the kitchen. That night, our team dined with several Dominican dwelling Americans who worked with the Makarios organization. More than 40 of us feasted upon the meal, much of it made up of ingredients we had lugged in our suitcases across the airports. The American staff and their children were immensely blessed just by this small taste of home. It was truly gratifying to see that the simple meal we had prepared meant so much to them. “It was more than I could have ever asked for,” said young Jenna, the daughter of the school’s doctor who had been missing Thanksgiving back in the States. “...today was honestly the best Thanksgiving I’ve ever had,” I quickly scribbled in the travel journal before bed. “…This Thanksgiving, I’m extremely thankful.”
I don’t know when everything changed, but somewhere along the way, I fell in love with the Dominican Republic. Each hand I held and each caballito ride I gave chipped away at my childish selfishness, bringing me to the realization that I was in this place for a reason. The D.R. was a beautiful land filled with beautiful people who, despite lacking education, taught me more about loving others than any American citizen ever had. All my life, true poverty had been a faroff cry, a dismal story heard but soon forgotten. In la Republica Dominicana, however, I met it face to face, no longer ignorant of the way the majority of our world lives. The faces belonged to children with bright smiles and big hearts. They resided in shacks on trashlittered streets, unrolled tin cans serving as the roofs over their heads. They had next to nothing, but they were richer in joy than I had ever been. My red eyes blinked back an impending flood of tears as I hugged those faces for the last time. I didn’t want to leave the Dominican Republic.
Short term trips are often life changers. To learn more about how to participate in one, click here.