God’s Family

by Mark Mahserjian-Smith

 “Suddenly, while he was speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers came and stood outside, hoping for a chance to speak to him. ‘Look,’ someone said to him, ‘your mother and your brothers are standing outside wanting to speak to you.’ ‘Who is my mother?’ said Jesus to the person who had spoken to him. ‘Who are my brothers?’ Then he stretched out his hand towards his disciples. ‘Look!’ he said. ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 Yes; anyone who does what my heavenly father wants is my brother, and my sister, and my mother.” (Matthew 12:46- 50 NTE)

On December 29th I joined a Mission Team from the First Baptist Church of Wellsboro serving in the Dominican Republic.  This was first time serving in San Pedro de Macorís at Colegio Moriah Ministries, founded in 1998 by Pastor Tanis and his wife Esther.  I know Christ American Baptist Church has a rich history of serving in the Dominican Republic.  Our Mission Team continued construction on a building that will be part of a medical clinic in San Pedro. Construction was challenging in the Dominican heat with significant manual labor including moving cinderblocks, hauling water, mixing cement, and carrying the cement to the masons building the walls of the structure. Each day, I would return to our compound, physically exhausted from the work but joyful having spent time working alongside our Dominican Republic / Haitian partners.

 Most evenings included a worship service at the church on the compound. Despite language barriers, the worship was rich, with inspiring music and time spent studying God’s Word. It was a joy being with the DR / Haitian construction workers for worship. While the congregation often sang songs unique to the culture, occasionally a praise and worship song was song our team would recognize.  The voices of the congregation would ring out in English, Spanish and Creole, all singing the same song in different languages.  In my mind, this was a foretaste of what heaven will be like, with all of God’s People from across the globe praising God together.       

On New Year’s Eve, the church held an extended service to ring in 2022. The sanctuary was electric with energetic praise and worship including a Conga line to ring in the New Year.  Earlier in the day, I had been concerned about being far from my wife and children on New Year’s Eve, but amid worship, that concern soon evaporated.  As I worshipped at the church, I realized I was with family, the family of God, and that was inspiring. It was easy to feel the Holy Spirit moving in the congregation, as we celebrated God’s abiding presence and love with the sunset of 2021 and the sunrise of 2022.  Our mission team was encouraging and supporting our DR / Haitian partners but our DR / Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ were encouraging and inspiring us. That ministry of presence was amazing and that experience I will NEVER forget.  When we become disciples of Jesus, we become members of an incredible family. A family that spans the globe and is energized by the love of Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

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