You celebrated with us in December when a few of our teachers reached their goal of graduating from University! We have been so encouraged by their determination, and the grace they displayed as they balanced school, teaching, and taking care of their families.
We thought we would follow up with two of our teachers and hear from them as they reminisce on the experience of University, the people that made it possible, and all that has happened since!
On graduation day I felt so happy and thankful because I was able to achieve my goal and dream to become a teacher.
God showed me His love, faithfulness, and that He is my hope and refuge during University.
Since graduation, my life is much calmer. I have time to dedicate to my family. My plans now are to continue studying because I would love to be a teacher for Gestation de Centro (an education service center). I would like to take special classes to help students who struggle with reading- this is a great passion of mine.
God showed me His faithful during University because it was really difficult to attend with a newborn baby. God helped with with this and showed me His provision through my mother, who was a great help to me. She cared for my baby when I needed to attend class or study. I thank God every day for my mother who allowed me to achieve my hope and dream of being a certified teacher.
Every day I give thanks to God for giving me the opportunity to serve as a teacher in a school as special as Makarios. I am here with the purpose to give the best of myself to my students, to education with love and to share the good news of Jesus Christ to my students and their families.
Graduation day made me feel completely happy. I felt that it was a huge step in preparing me to be the teacher I want to be.
Throughout my time in University, God taught me patience the power of hope. He showed me time and time again that He would provide a way for me to attend and He helped me through so much. This made me even more thankful for all that He has done for me.
I am much less busy now that University is over. I have time to spend with my family and in the community my mother lives in.
God helped me by not only providing for the materials and money to attend University, but he also gave me protection. Every Saturday I would leave my home at 6 am and walk to the main highway (about a mile) in the dark. He protected me during these times.
Now I hope to practice all of the things I learned in University on a daily basis in my classroom. My hope is to eventually teach social studies in the upper grade levels.
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
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!