This summer marked my fifth trip to the Dominican Republic with DR Missions, and my first as a staff member. My time in the DR has given me some of my most treasured life experiences. It would be an understatement to say that this place has changed my life. I grew up in a small town in Northwest Missouri. I was raised in church and always tried my best to do what was expected of me. I came to the Dominican with my family for the first time in 2012. I had just finished my freshman year of high school. I immediately fell in love with the place, and have been back every summer since.
One of my favorite ministries of DR Missions is the refugee area. The refugee area is home to more than 200 families and is the size of about 1 city block. Most of the families have been displaced from their previous homes due to flooding, hurricanes, or other personal reasons. In my biased opinion, the refugee area is also home to some of the friendliest people in the world.
DR Missions is able to minister to the people of the refugee area in various different ways. My personal favorite is to simply prayer walk through the streets. We often have a caravan of Dominican kids to guide us through the camp. The kids are incredibly sweet and always willing to accept attention and affection. The people are always quick to invite our groups of missionaries in to pray over their home. We take the opportunity to pray for health, job opportunities, and the advance of God's kingdom in the area. Our prayer for several years has been for a church to be planted in the refugee area, and just two years ago that prayer was answered!
We also work to meet the physical needs of the people! We frequently host wellness clinics for those with sickness or ailments, as well as other activities and service projects. We have recently created solar lights in homes, painted several buildings, and put a roof on the church building! The physical needs are never ending, but striving to meet them provides a great gospel witness for the people and is able to bless them beyond measure.
I also have a very personal connection to the refugee area. Two years ago, while leading a prayer walk in the area, I recieved my first call to full time ministry. That calling was prayed over me for the first time by a Dominican pastor. At the time, I had never given any thought to it before and didn't really think much of it shortly after. But two years later I am now a student at a seminary, and, God willing, planning on moving overseas one day for full time missions. Amidst the poor and powerless, and a people that are so easily overlooked, I found my life's calling. I found His heart while loving on his people, and I've been hooked ever since. My time in the Dominican has impacted my life in ways I couldn't possibly begin to explain. Since my first trip God has time and time again broken, molded, and changed my heart. If you're listing the lives that have been impacted by DR Missions, mine is definitely one of them.
"and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." - Isaiah 58:10