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.
by Rachel Sawyer
Presenting a little Christmas cheer from the Colegio Makarios Christmas program last week:
13And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Luke 2: 13, 14
It's been almost a month since generosity lit up those pallets, we gathered and dined, laughed and reminisced, and walked away with full hearts. Enjoy this slideshow from the evening and thank you to everyone who came and honored what the Lord is doing through Makarios!
by Rachel Sawyer
How the purchase of light bulbs created the glowy goodness of a GALA filled with gracious givers . . .
And how those gracious givers raised more than $20,000 for the new Makarios school building to be built, a building that will ultimately allow Makarios to impact more children, more families, more lives.
And how the purchase of a light bulb, the giving of a gift, can change a life OR MANY. Cakito's story is an example of how generous giving combined with the love of Christ changed a life, and how that changed life is daily sharing Christ to be a LIGHT for others. A Makarios staff invested in him when he was a kid, and now he spends his days investing in others.
Yes, the investment of a light bulb is an investment into a life and that investment is powered by gracious giving. Simply put, gracious giving, whether in time, resources, skills, prayers, finances, is a powerful tool, the shiny - est of flickers, because it has the ability to iluminate hope in dark places.
The pallets at the MAK GALA began the evening hole-y, empty and dull. They ended the evening in brilliant splendor; complete, full and radiant. Each purchase of a light bulb represented an item needed for the new building: row of light bulbs purchased = new foundation: check, 6 light bulbs for plumbing: check, 2 rows of bulbs for the electrical: check. In less than 30 minutes, the pallets were transformed from dull to delightful. Even though the light bulbs purchased represented items needed for the new building, the ultimate hope is that what each light bulb TRULY represent is a LIFE transformed. One hundred light bulbs = one hundred lives transformed: check!
Thank you ~ Muchas GRACIAS to all who lovingly, kindly and generously invested in the work of Makarios by purchasing a light bulb, lighting up the pallets and providing for a bright future for our students. We are grateful to be powered by gracious giving!
It's not too late to be a part of the gracious giving! Click here for the potential to provide light, transform lives and offer hope! Also, stay tuned for a photo review of the GALA!
by Polly Blosser, guest blogger, Makarios Medical Team 2015
We arrive to a wonderful two bedroom, air conditioned room with two patios, two pools, all the food we want, and a beautiful beach. The staff is friendly, and they try to accommodate our every wish. They will even take us to a bigger resort to spend the day if we would like. All of this to enjoy for the entire week, but something is still missing...
My heart yearns for the week before. The week where we stood in the heat all day, treating the families of Makarios. There was no air, no pools, not many luxuries, but I felt so blessed. To see the pure joy in the children's faces because we were there, there to spend time with them, there to hold their hands, there to love them. They didn't possess all the material things that make people " happy", yet they were some of the most content people I had ever met. They didn't ask for money, they didn't want gifts. They just wanted us to be their friends.
The relationships we saw, and even formed, were so genuine. Everyone truly loved one another, just as Christ wants. The Holy Spirit was very present, and we could feel it moving among us. Angels rejoiced five times, as 5 people made decisions for Christ. A pastor, an optometrist, 4 primary care givers, 5 nurses, 3 pilots, and a water specialist developed relationships that will last into eternity, all because God put us all in the same place that week. We went from what felt like the awkwardness of a junior high dance to openly sharing our highs and lows like we had always known one another. All because God had a plan.
"Boy become kings, girls will be queens"- the powerful words of Audio Adrenaline play over in my mind. We may think these children who have little are "the least of these" but they are the ones who have it all. They have Jesus, and they have blessed us more than we could ever bless them. Makarios, I am in love, and although my heart hurts, it is because I know God has a plan to return someday, so those relationships continue to thrive! Until then, keep your eyes focused on Him, and always remember what a blessing you are!
The medical team of 2015 was more than a team of health care providers offering their expertise . . . (in fact, part of the team had other professions and they spent the week running electrical wires, plumbing and performing other non-health care tasks!) They were a team of God loving, people loving, gospel sharing, friend making, servant hearted individuals who made a difference in the kingdom, not just last week, but every day that the Lord blesses them with, because that's who they are.
Medical teams visit and provide care for our students and their families once a year. Are you a health care provider interested in sharing your gifts on the mission field? Email email@example.com for more information.
It's true! November 21st is 9 days away! We are so excited to gather with everyone next week.
That's the big question- why have a Gala? ... We believe in unity, and creating the space where people can invest in our future. We have a vision of people coming together in Austin to celebrate the incredible things God has done through this ministry.
Most importantly, we do this because the children of our school
are coming to know Jesus.
Children who once had chronic medical and skin issues are
healthy and able to focus on their education.
We have kindergardeners who are reading! -
that was once only a dream.
We are having a Gala because we are
reaching and educating families as part of our family,
because our students have access to medical care, meals, excellent education,
and relationships that empower.
We have entire families moving to the Dominican Republic with all of their children and devoting their lives to the future of God's children.
We have seen God move mountains in this ministry,
and we know He wants to move more.
What to Expect
While we are serious about what we do- the Gala is going to be FUN.
Our Gala Emcees
30 Days of Prayer
Leading up to the Gala, our students, teachers, staff, families, and church partners have been praying together at 10 every morning. We have come before God together and prayed bold prayers. We pray for our kids, our mission, and the future of Makarios. We know that our work is not anywhere near done and want to press into God and seek Him as we grow. Join us for the rest of the days leading up to the Gala!
See you at the GALA!
by Rachel Sawyer
NEVER live like you are too old, too young, too (fill in the blank) to do the Lord's work. Joy J. doesn't! A 10 year old from Arkansas, Joy created a ministry called "Art from the Heart" in 2014 in which she raises funds, collects art supplies and ships them around the world to children who may not otherwise have the opportunity to do art in their homes. Makarios kids are SO HAPPY that Joy didn't let her youth prevent her from her mission - to share art everywhere, especially in impoverished and war stricken areas!
Over the summer months, art packs were shipped to the Makarios Austin office and then packed into suitcases for several of our mission teams to bring over (shipping is $$$$!). Last month, the Art from the Heart packs were distributed, and let these happy faces tell the rest of the story . . . .
Here is our unpolished yet very heartfelt thank you from some of the younger Makarios students from the community of Chichigua - with a little help and coaching from Makarios principal Laurie Majcher.
Thank you, Joy J., Art From the Heart, and all those that partnered to send art supplies to Makarios kids in the Dominican Republic! We know you are just getting started and we have been blessed to be on the receiving end of such kindness!
If you are as touched as we are by this ministry, visit Art from the Heart of Joy on their facebook page and send them some encouragement, consider partnering with them or contact them about other mission organizations that you may know that would like to have their students blessed. Thanks for your heart, Joy!
By Emily Spencer, Austin Intern
Let’s just start off by saying that my experience here in the Makarios office has
absolutely exceeded my wildest expectations in the best way possible.
Have you ever had an idea of what something would be like only to realize you couldn’t
be more wrong?
Well, I certainly have and this experience was one of them.
Nonprofit organizations seem to be everywhere and appear as though they are all seeking
to combat and alleviated the same negative conditions this world holds. Ignorantly
enough, I made the mistake of assuming the hearts of the people behind each of these
organizations were generally all the same as well.
This summer I had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the height, the depth, the width,
and the length of the love being pouring out on the children of the Dominican Republic
through the work being done by the staff behind the scenes at Makarios. They serve
Makarios as unto the Lord with open hearts fully abandoned to the greatest call Jesus
gave His followers before He went to be with His Father, “Go and make disciples of all
The purity of heart and the integrity in which they perform their roles in the
office seeps into every crack and crevasse of the organization as a whole. I am honored to
serve alongside these courageous men and women who have surrendered to the Lord by
laying down the opinions of man and the standards for which the world calls us to live.
We are God’s instruments, created for His glory, made in the image and likeness of Him
causing us to believe we were made for so much more than what we can fathom on our
own. Makarios has welcomed the voice of God into their daily work to give them the
direction, wisdom, and guidance they need in order to move them forward as a family.
They acknowledge that we as God’s people must walk by faith and not by sight as we
live each day clinging to every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Here in the office, reaching out a hand to the ‘least of these’ looks like administrative
details, a list of things to do, making phone calls, filing papers, and scheduling trips. This
may not seem like the frontlines of the mission field but here at Makarios it is declared
worthy and considered an honorary role given by the Lord who is well pleased with ALL
the work being doing for His glory. As today is called today, we as the children of God,
must choose to make His name great in every aspect of our lives no matter how big or
small we might think they seem.
Our interns are AWESOME! Interested in becoming a Makarios intern either in the Austin office or in the D.R.? Click Here.
by Richie Sparling, Outreach Coordinator
Photos by Rachel Sawyer
It has been almost 8 years ago that I prepared for the first time to speak in front of a group of people in connection with my job. Those people were Junior Highers and I was the newly hired JH Youth Pastor. The nervousness of that night was unique. I was not a very polished public speaker, but with time and practice I would eventually find a rhythm and comfort in front of people. I guess more than anything else, the newness of it all and my desire that it would be good; a good night, a good message, a good beginning to my new phase of life, weighed heavily on my shoulders and I could feel that pit in my stomach that you get only when you are nervous about something really important to you.
Fast-forward to the present and the feeling that I haven't experienced in 8 years is welling up inside of me, reminding me of that first message so long ago. Things have certainly changed; one area in particular is that I can now stand in front of a group of people to deliver a message without my hands shaking. Public speaking no longer makes me nervous, but yet I'm nervous. Nervous because of the desire to have this night go well. It's not just that I poured time and energy into this meeting, or that responsibility falls on my shoulders, but that the meeting is the beginning of something so crucial to our ministry in the Dominican Republic: empowering and partnering with the parents of our students for their children's future.
My challenge to the parents for the night is three-fold:
1. Children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3) and are to be protected (Matt 18:6).
2. The Parent has the primary role in the development of their child (Prov 22:6; 29:15).
3. These Parents are not alone: there is a community around them to support them including Makarios and the local church.
My final challenge to them was that statistics demonstrate that parents who are involved in their child's education, specifically at home, are more successful, and that the number one influence in a child's spiritual life is spiritual conversations in the home. What this means for these parents is that they need to not just embrace the help given to them but own it! Get involved in their child's education and know what's being taught. Not just place them in a place to be spiritually challenged but to model that in their own lives!
I could sense that these words were having an impact on the audience. The Holy Spirit was working in the hearts of the parents. The impact was evident in their response. I invited each of them to visit the classrooms of their children, talk with the teachers, discover what they are learning and what they can be doing in the home. I asked them to lead the charge of change in their children's lives and they jumped to it! Their are not words to describe the emotions of seeing parents grilling teachers on what's happing in the classroom, of seeing our teachers having prepared and welcoming these parents into the classroom and more importantly into the partnership of educating.
It has been an amazing beginning, but at this point that is all that it is: a beginning. The first step has been taken in creating regular parent trainings, now it's time to faithfully work that the Lord may use our efforts to his glory and that the families of the students of Makarios are complete in Jesus Christ. Please pray for the work as it continues.
Have a heart for outreach? Join us in empowering families in our local communities by supporting our outreach efforts by giving towards outreach. Click here , select "General Fund" and put "outreach" in the notes. Gracias!
What is your favorite resource for parent training? Leave a comment!