DR 18 – Day 2 & 3

It has been a whirlwind couple of days. Since I last wrote we have attended two worship services, packed hundreds of food bags, presented the message that “God Created Light” in our school, joined in two different parades, and had conversations with many, many brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a lot of good that can be said about the last two days, but I will just hit some highlights.
Yesterday was mostly spent in worship. We began our morning joining the small church of Las Cejas. This church is the witness of Jesus in a Batey (village) that desperately needs hope. Despite having very little, all involved had a deep love for their Savior and God. Pastor Gusmane was able to bring God’s word during the service in their own language of Creole. Despite not always knowing what was being said in word or song, it was clear they all had an excited hope that was contagious.
Last night we went to a truly unique service. (It is a service cherished by our returning team members, but definitely a first for me.) Our gracious host, Elza’s church was celebrating the conclusion of their yearly 40 days of prayer and teaching to prepare for God’s direction for the church in the coming year. We arrived in time to join the large parade that weaved all around the streets surrounding their church. Imagine being led through the streets by an 18-wheel trailer full of people and musical instruments worshiping God at a volume that no one could miss. Behind that were a lot of people of all ages joining in the song and dance as they went through their community. I have been told that they were doing this for 1-2 hours before we joined in for the last 30 minutes before the parade led us to the church. From there they took the service inside and continued with song, dance, prayer, and praise to God. I understood even less of this service than in Las Cejas, but it was clear here that they were committed as well.
Today our main task was to present the beginning of our Gospel message for the week at our school at Batey 35. CABC and many others have had a long-standing relationship with this school and it was such a joy to get to see it firsthand. We began at the beginning, in that God created light and created us. With the help of our great team of translators, we were able to lay the groundwork for Wednesday’s lesson on how we broke that light and connection to God and what Jesus did to restore it. Please pray for that important lesson to come in two days. After a downpour of water that necessitated our bus to help take some of the students home, we were blessed to be involved in an impromptu worship service on the bus. As a part of our lesson the students learned and sang “This Little Light of Mine” in Spanish. So, naturally the bus ride was a loud chorus of students singing that song and others along the way.
The time in worship yesterday, combined with the events of today is what I really want to share with you. After most of the students got off the bus we continued singing many song with our team of translators. Some in Spanish, some in English, and at times in both. It was through all these moments of worship that we all saw something profound. Mike Enslen said during this evening’s devotions that there is more that we have in common than we think. We didn’t always understand each other, but we were very aware that we are connected as brothers and sisters through Jesus.
The problems of the Dominican may not be the same as in our context in the United States. We are going to continue reaching out to some of those needs in the coming days. However the biggest problem is the same as anywhere else in our world; there are people who don’t know love of God. No program, no government, no person will be able to completely end the problems our world faces today. However, we do know and believe in the One who will one day return to make all things new. Again from our devos tonight, Mike reminded us we are one team. Not just the 8 of us on the DR mission team, not just those at CABC in the USA, but all of us as a body of Christ together in this world. There is much that divides us, but we are not and should not be alone. As I worship and serve Christ here this week my prayer is for you, my brother or sister reading this, as you serve alongside us where He has placed you this week.
Philippians 2:1-2 (NIV)
“If you have nay encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”
For tonight,
-Pastor Josh

(I will be updating tomorrow, provided the Wi-Fi holds up.)