Our Family Empowerment team has launched a Literacy Program that seeks to teach Makarios parents how to read and write. We are striving always to help our parents be both transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and become ethical leaders in their communities. We caught up with Adrianne Christian who co-leads this program with Andrea Guerrero and this is what she had to say.
The Literacy Program will have completed 3 weeks this Thursday. We started Cycle I on March 5th and are meeting Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30-7:00 and will last through mid-June. Cycle II will begin this September. The first half hour of each class is a devotional time. Over half of the ladies who are participating are not believers. It is our hope that by participating in the program they will come to know the Lord and be able to read their Bibles one day, in addition to the practical day-to-day advantages that reading will give them.
We have a support team which is made up of people from the communities, moms who can read, and teachers from Makarios as well as local church members. The ladies are extremely excited to finally be learning to read and write and we have seen so much progress in just these first couple of weeks. The program is meant to help each person learn at their own pace. Now in the third week, we are already seeing some who learn quickly and others who need more individual help and even a different approach.
The Literacy Program is one of many pilot programs the Family Empowerment Ministry is hoping will become permanent programs offered to parents who need help. What that means is that we are adjusting the program and saving everything as we go so that it can be a sustainable program used over and over again. Other pilot programs in the works are geared towards Leadership, Discipleship, and Adult Education classes that focus on vocational skills, health, stewardship, and citizenship.
Please join us in prayer that God would continue to draw people in need to our ministries. Pray also that He would raise up leaders within these communities that would capture the vision of Makarios, and partner with us to impact everyone we can. Thank you for supporting the mission of Makarios and covering our efforts in prayer.
These past 5 months have been crucial for me and the team that are putting together this beautiful program. I had been told by a friend of mine that starting something new it’s never easy but it's worth its reward if we maintain our hope, which ultimately guides us in our course.
Our greatest challenge is also the most significant part our work. It hasn’t been trying to define the “What” or the content of our program. That, in fact has, been pretty easy. In our desire to honor God and let Him guide our journey, as individuals and as a group, we have been reflecting on the “why” behind our schedules, meetings and future activities.
The Family Empowerment program vision is this:
To have families transformed by the
Gospel of Jesus Christ and parents that are ethical leaders, capable of influencing their communities.
We believe this is a Kingdom vision - Its greater than our capacities, but God certainly can do more than that. We desire God’s presence to be near. We pray that God will transform our families and us.
WHO ARE THE FAMILIES THAT WE ARE WORKING WITH?
There are 89 families already involved in our school program and those that are being added every year from the 3 different communities.
Pancho Mateo: 34 Families | 48 Kids
Chichigua: 12 Families |26 Kids
Tamarindo: 36 Families | 51 Kids
16.5% live with Grandparents
70% of our Families are Dominican
40% of our families have have no commitment with any church or any religious affiliation.
14% of our mothers cannot read at all.
Most of our families prayer request are related to Employment, Housing, Parenting, Spiritual Strength and Family Stability
It’s my intention to share with you some basic truths or beliefs that are guiding us and that are very aligned with the mission of Makarios.
These are the reasons why we wake up everyday and find hope in the midst of such a challenging job.
I am talking about the map that will help us when we face trials.. I am referring to something that is greater than the things we do, beyond the people we work with and their realities, the engine that pushes our lives for His purpose.
The greatest reason we do the work we do is because we love Jesus. . We have talked about this. And one the Bible verses that summarizes best is
1 John 4:10 WE LOVE HIM, BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US.
The Family Empowerment Program is driven by three truths:
1) God’s overwhelming love for us and our response to that Love Help us to be aware of our urgent need for Him.
In Matthew 6:33 Jesus encouraged people to seek God’s Kingdom before anything else.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. But, if we did not pay attention to what he said on verse 24 we wouldn’t understand why He is saying that. 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. No one can love two masters that are opposite in nature and essence. In another way, if we ever decide to chase our own interest and passions- that’s exactly when we would have failed in makings things for God’s glory and surely our expressions of love for Him would be empty.
In my relationship with some of my closest Christian brothers within our organization we tend to use words like ‘’pecador’’ (sinner) or ‘’miserable’’ (Miserable) For some of those who have heard us call one another those names, it has been shocking. What? What? Did you just call him sinner? Did he just call you ‘’sinner’’? It’s funny to me when people react that way. The reality is that we really are sinners but it the context that we use the words is to remind us of our need for Him. It also reflects the closeness of in our relationship. This is something I love about being in a personal community that is encouraging to one another, even if it takes to kick to the behind at times.
We can not wait to share this with our families! And We pray that God will send others to join us in this.
2) God’s overwhelming way of loving us is often described as the Kingdom He is preparing- If we love Him we will want to be part of that.
In cultures like mine Jesus’s teaching about the Kingdom is mistakenly and sadly often taught and misunderstood as something to wait for. Something that does not really affect your life now. It gives you hope but it’s not practical. Obviously Jesus teaching, his public ministry and His message tell us a different story. He promised His Kingdom is going to be established but it definitely has implications for our lives now.
Matthew 3:2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near. Showing that the closeness and implications of this Kingdom for those who want to be part. This Kingdom requires a radical and holistic change in our lives. This is why the Hope that Jesus offered me has an inevitably effect in my marriage, my finances, my relationships, my time, my resources, etc.
3. God’s overwhelming love for us forces us to joyfully talk about Him, to be a channel to proclaim his Name.
In the New Testament I find a notorious contrast of two type of men. Those who said they love God but did not really mean it (Matthew 15:8-9). And those like the apostle Paul who found his most inner joy in God, living for Him and Proclaiming his name.
1 Timothy 2:3-73 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.
We as the Family Empowerment Program and I personally are honored to be a channel so that the Name of Jesus continues to be known. We hope you can be a part of this from where you are.
HOW ARE WE SPENDING OUR TIME CURRENTLY?
WHAT DO WE WANT TO OFFER OUR PARENTS?
● Mentorship: Finances, Marriage, Stewardship
● Adult Education
● Health Education
● Spiritual Development
● Parenting, Vocational Training and More.
HOW CAN YOU PRAY FOR US?
Please Stay tuned! We would love to continue to share news with and connect you to the work God is doing through this program.
CLICK HERE TO GIVE TOWARDS FAMILY EMPOWERMENT
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 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!