We are filled with gratitude to God for the many blessings we have, not the least of which are your prayers and financial support through which lives are being changed through the Holy Spirit in the Dominican Republic. Psalm 133:1 sums up our thoughts about our ministry over the past year: “Behold how good and pleasant it is when God’s people dwell together in unity.”
We are witnessing a miracle of unity and new life in the Alliance of Baptist Churches here in the Dominican Republic. Through the support of so many, we have been able to build a vital community center. This center has become a literal and figurative symbol of togetherness. Jesus prayed that we would “experience such perfect unity that the world would know that the Father sent Him and that the Father loves us as much as He loves the Son.” The churches here are experiencing this unity as they come together for training and education. The Community Center (Centro Comunitario) has become a central, life-giving place for all of the churches where anyone can receive training, hold meetings, get legal help and guidance, and serve the community at large. And, the Alliance of Baptist Churches is finding strength in this unity. Adults and adolescents get to know each other through the various ministry trainings provided. Every three months the Baptist Seminary of New Orleans sends leaders to train our emerging leaders here. Also, we have been blessed to have Hernando Montana, a gifted teacher who has traveled here from the US, to provide ministry instruction to our youth. Imagine — 30 adolescents sitting for 8 hours a day for 4 straight days in a ministry training! Subsequently, these youth then disciple others, practicing what they have been taught. This has been bringing resurrected life to the next generation of church leaders.
Because of the violence in Haiti, we are seeing many more immigrants in our midst. They come to the Community Center to find work and direction. It is a very lonely and difficult thing to leave your community and all that is familiar to go to a new place because you want to provide safety and stability to your family. The Community Center provides new immigrants with connections to local congregations and people. Furthermore, it offers classes in Spanish and English as a second language, literacy in Créole, and music classes.
Not long ago, Sandra from Maranatha Church in La Romana, felt called to pastoral ministry. Her pastor sent her out with his blessing so we can accompany her and support her in the new church planting. She uses the Community Center to hold church services (Oasis Baptist Church) for a mostly Dominican population of children on Sunday mornings. Then, on Sunday evening, she holds services for Haitian immigrants of all ages. Leonidas, also from Maranatha Church, came with her family to walk alongside Pastor Sandra. In this process of accompaniment, Leonidas recognized her call to the ministry and initiated a Master in Theological Studies online with Palmer Seminary. Walking together, God affirms our gifts to be used in His Kingdom.
We thank the Lord who has appointed each one of you to walk with us. We invite you to continue to offer yourselves to the Lord on our behalf so that we may continue to walk alongside Dominicans and Haitians. As we give ourselves to each other, may God’s presence be with us, and may He be glorified always by fulfilling His purpose in our lives. We are all one body and know that you stand in unity with us. May God make us one as we all work together to bring about God’s Kingdom in the Dominican Republic.