One way we have been able to begin ministry is placing an emphasis on spending time together and listening to one another, building relationships. So often we can be caught up in the details, sometimes they are large and even important. We can become intimidated and overwhelmed by the mountain we seek to climb. “Where do we even begin?” we might ask.
During one such visit, the vision of providing light for their students in the community was shared. Bateyes (communities in the sugar cane fields) typically do not have the elements for electricity in each home and while not every child is able to go to school, all contribute to the family during the daylight hours with the daily household tasks. This often means that those attending school are left with the dim flame of an oil lamp or single candle for studying after the daylight has gone. They don’t complain, because education is a privilege withheld from many, but as you would agree, it presents some challenges. These church and community leaders desired to invest in their younger generations, yet they were challenged by the path of achieving it. Brian was able to walk alongside them as together they developed a budget and a plan toward this goal.
We felt called to partner with them by providing the installation and then to donate some of the necessary materials. Just a few short months after planning the budget, the leaders contacted Brian with the exciting news that as a community, little by little with their meager incomes, they had saved the monies needed to purchase their portion of the materials. Within two weeks, the supplies were purchased and ready to be installed! Upon the arrival of the two vehicles loaded with materials and tools, Brian and his volunteer crew from a few of the other Baptist churches in La Romana were greeted by a deacon with keys to the church and a group of helping hands eager to assist in making this dream a reality.
“This is the day my family has dreamed of,” one student spoke to Brian.
Working on the roof was hot with the direct tropical sun, 105 degrees by 11am and climbing! There was no shortage of hands of young adults and children as the electrical conduit was placed to protect existing wiring, the mounting of the solar panels in frames and on the roof, the running of new wires, and the installation of the high-powered exterior LED lights on the side of the church.
As work began in the library to connect the components of the system (solar panels, inverter, and batteries with wire), we hadn’t realized the switch had been in the ‘on’ position the entire time. Just as the wires touched, the entire room lit up with radiant light! Joyful shouts of praise and gratitude to God filled the room even more as the children jumped up and down.
“Now we will live in luxury,” said another boy.
Work continued until a couple hours before dark, Brian and the men would return the following day to complete everything.
Beginning the work on the second day, a deacon approached Brian asking on behalf of the women of the church if it would be possible to install a light fixture in the bathroom while he was here. He was happy to, however he was lacking the materials needed for the job. He could install the wiring now and, on another visit, he could hook up the rest. The conversation was overheard and within thirty minutes two community members returned. One with a new light fixture from his home and another with a switch box that wasn’t being used. This would be a needed addition to the women’s overnight idea to make the bathrooms accessible after dark. Now with the power and lights at night, bible study could take place in the evenings AND the men could attend since they wouldn’t be in the fields after dusk.
This one vision of providing light and investing in the education of their students by allowing them to study well after dark, gave light to new possibilities that couldn’t be seen before! Now with light piercing the darkness, not only can the students study, bible studies can be held with the men present, and the two batteries provide enough energy that there is no need to purchase fuel for the generator which was the power for the speakers on Sunday mornings.
Two days before Christmas, we were able to accompany one of the local church groups in a special Christmas meal distribution. With the new lights, the group was able to go after dark and the men were able to be a part of this community event IN the LIGHTS!
Thank you for your prayers and continued support that allow us to empower the dreams of local leaders become reality so that they can infuse the Gospel of Jesus Christ to their communities.