I had the privilege to be part of a team of 20+ people from 5 different local churches that traveled to partner in ministry with a fellow SCORE missionary in Constanza, Dominican Republic. Constanza is settled in the mountains and about a 3.5 hour trip from where I live in Juan Dolio. We stayed for 3 days, so we packed in as much ministry as possible during that short time!
Our main focus was visiting schools to do a mini-VBS style program. These are schools which allow the missionary and local pastors to enter in monthly to share with the children. It is very encouraging that these schools are allowing evangelical Christians to enter in and teach/share with the students. Much of the area, as is true for the Dominican in general, is very Catholic. The traditions of the Catholic church sometimes keep other evangelical churches from being able to influence and share. We praise the Lord for the opportunities to share the Gospel with these children, and pray their exposure will have a domino effect in reaching their parents, families and neighbors.
I gave the Bible story lesson portion of the program 3 different times throughout the trip. I shared the story in Mark 2:1-12 of the paralyzed man being lowered through the roof to reach Jesus. I asked the kids to share what their friends do that make them good friends. Responses of helping, sharing, playing, and supporting filled the room. I then was able to share that not only did the paralyzed man have good friends in the 4 that lowered him down, but also in Jesus. Jesus is the best friend we could ever ask for! He sees our needs and meets them, but also gives us forgives from sin & eternal life.
Our program also included songs, games and crafts. There were many smiles and laughs shared!
We also visited different local churches and participated in services. On the first day, my group traveled 1+ hour to a small village further up the mountains called El Convento. This village is reachable via motorcycle in 20 minutes, but because we were in a pick-up truck, it was impossible to avoid all the potholes on the winding mountain road. The church is a small, one-room building with plastic chairs, and the electricity was out during the service. Regardless, I helped lead worship with an acoustic guitar and small drum, the Word of God was preached, and all the seats were filled!
Visiting this small community was one way God helped teach me PERSPECTIVE. There are hardships & obstacles in all communities, cities, churches, and ministries. But witnessing those faced by my brothers & sisters in this region of the country made me think about how lucky I am. Yes, ministry at LH is tough. Sometimes we also don’t have electricity. We face crisis situations with women. But we also have better access to resources such as hospitals & stores, as well as easier access to our neighbors in order to share the Gospel. The missionary we worked with shared that while they have 8 churches established in the area, there are still 20-30 different communities/neighborhoods (like the one in El Convento) where there is NO church with solid doctrine and NO ONE going out to share the Gospel. Like Jesus said in Matthew 9:37, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Please join me in praying for more laborers in this area so that all are given the opportunity to hear the life-changing news of salvation & restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ!
I thought of two different songs throughout the trip. One is “Hills & Valleys” by Tauren Wells. It talks about God being God in our high places as well as the low ones. He is the God of all seasons, all circumstances, all situations, all emotions. The other is “God is Always Good” by Covenant Worship. The end of the chorus says, “What I sing on the mountain, I’ll sing in the valley: that God is always good.” Whether I’m in the mountains of Constanza or the “valley” of Juan Dolio – whether I see the Lord at work or have to walk by faith – He is always good.
Enjoy below pictures from the trip! (Place cursor over pictures to view captions).
Church in El Convento
View of the valley
Singing at a school
Cute girls at the last school we visited!
Cabbage patch! 🙂
Leading worship in El Convento
Singing at Wednesday night church service
Loved getting to know & serve with other brothers & sisters from different churches!
Inviting people to church in El Convento
Teaching the Bible lesson