Sally Jo and I have just returned from a week in the Dominican Republic. We went, at the request of our church, to see the mission work our church has supported, and to evaluate the wisdom of sending a mission team to further support the work.
While in the Santiago area, we took the opportunity to spend 24 hours with Rick, Chief Ron’s younger brother, and his wife, Becky. Rick came to DL as a Woodsman, and twelve summers later, served as the Island Section Chief. Rick was chosen to lead the Island because of his relationship with God, his ability to work with God’s people, and his excellent camping skills. After graduating from Cedarville College in1991, he began serving as a youth pastor in Minnesota. Rick desired to introduce “his” young people to the Lord’s work in another part of the world, and was soon leading the first of 6 short term mission trips to the mountainous area surrounding Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. While on these trips, the young people built five small, cement block churches, and Rick was able to build relationships in each area. Twice Rick was asked to come down for preaching missions.
Rick, the pastor and the elders of the church in Minnesota began praying that the Lord would provide a mature Christian Dominican pastor for the little churches….nothing. Over a period of eight months of prayerful struggle, all came to realize that Rick and Becky should go, and the church would support them in prayer and financially. In 2006 Rick and Becky moved to the Dominican Republic, to work with the families Rick had come to know while the five small churches were being built.
Rick picked us up in Santiago and drove us to their home in Jarabacoa which is in a very beautiful mountainous area. At our request, the Mackey’s let us take them out for lunch at an excellent restaurant. Up on the mountain we entered a gated community of very beautiful homes. Passing tennis courts, we continued up to the restaurant where we ate in warm sunshine on a deck overlooking the broad, green valley to the mountains beyond. Excellent food – I enjoyed goat!
That night we saw another side of the Dominican Republic. We drove to El Montana…a village of about 400 people. Most of the women work as maids for the wealthy – $50 per week. Few men are able to get steady jobs. If they can get a job, they earn $12 per day. The same families have lived in this town for generations of continuous poverty. Their 2-3 room cement block houses are very close together, and their furnishing we would not take to Good Will. Education is ½ day, at best. Because the maids must work on Sunday, church is on Tuesday night. The process of building a body of believers in this context is slow…it is hard work. The evening service was lead by a Dominican, with a Dominican woman joining him in leading the singing. They used a small PA system set so loud it could be heard ½ way up the mountain! There were 15 – 20 in the service, plus a small room with lots of children! Becky translated when I spoke, and when the Dominican spoke, a 14 year old girl translated for Sally Jo and me. Rick also spoke. As we left in the darkness, we could see bare light bulbs hanging from the ceilings of their homes.
The next morning we drove 12 miles to Boma, an area of very small farms. The last several miles were two lanes…one for each tire! We drove through a flowing river, through a very muddy section, and through quiet beauty. In Boma is one of Rick’s cement block churches. Six people were waiting, including the man considered the leader of the area – he raises goats, 16 at a time. This man was a Communist, working in the capital, until a youth group came to build the church…an incredible story. As no formal education is available locally, one girl is picked up by her uncle on a motorcycle at 6:30 every morning, taken to the ½ day school, and then back to the village. Her uncle spends over two hours each day so the girl can attend for four hours. A family member did this for him!
And where are the young people from Minnesota Rick worked with to introduce them to the needs of the world? Before I began to write, I called Rick to confirm some facts. One of his young people had just left, after being with them for a week. She is 26, in law school, and seriously considering foreign missions as her field of service.
When we live In Partnership With God, we often have no clue what God is preparing us to do, or how God will use us to prepare others to live In Partnership With God, and how they will be used of the Lord.
God provided for my training, for Rick’s training, and for those Rick is training.
God plans ahead!
Jesus is with me wherever I go….Jesus is with me….I know!