Several weeks have rushed by me, since I preached a two week series of evangelistice meetings at the Restoration Church in San Pedro de Margoris, Dominican Republic. I trust that this reaping event was a blessing to the church family and community I served. I know this was a life changing experience for me.
Some of the HUGE blessings I received follow:
I was able to learn a little about the soul winning practices of God’s people in that part of the world
My passion for eternally lost people increased
I was introduced to the culture of the Dominican Republic and I met many wonderful Godly people there
My faith in Jesus grew and I grew spiritually
This mission trip was an amazing experience for me.
David Prest Jr
Church Ministries/Planned Giving & Trust Services/Ministerial
Montana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
The wheel chair arrived in the Dominican Republic safely—no added expense and in perfect condition! PTL!!
Since Angela has spent the greater part of six years in bed, it will take her some time to be able to sit up for any length of time but she is so excited about the prospects of being able to get around her own house independently after all this time. (Imagine the feeling of independence! Being able to wheel up for a conversation around the kitchen table with your husband and daughter—something we all take for granted.)
Special thanks to those who have responded financially, making our step of faith in purchasing the wheel chair possible. It is not paid for yet, but getting closer. (And remember that any additional funds will be used for other supplies for Angela—physical therapy and hygiene items.)
It’s not too late to help. If you feel impressed to do so, send a donation to: NPUC, 5709 N. 20th St, Ridgefield, WA 98642. Mark the check: NPUC – Dominican wheelchair.
It’s hard to believe it’s almost been a month since we said our goodbyes in the Dominican Republic and headed home. What great memories of thrilling experiences and many new friends for eternity.
I’d like to take a moment to share an exciting development. A few people on our trip had the opportunity to minister at one of the churches in San Pedro of Pastor Mariano Bouldier. Only three or four got to visit his home and meet his wife Angela and their 15 year old daughter, Genesis.
One Sabbath 6 years ago, at the very time Pastor Mariano was baptizing an individual who struggled with demon possession, a tree fell on his wife Angela who was just outside the church doors. (Any question whether we are in a spiritual battle in this world??) In that instant their lives were forever changed.
This happened at Pastor Mariano’s most remote church, El Valle. With no emergency services available, Pastor Mariano had to risk further injury and rush her to medical care himself. Though her life was spared, Angela, who was a nurse, is now a quadriplegic and is bedridden most of the time. Amazingly, she is so grateful to be alive and those who got to meet her came away so inspired by her beautiful smile and strong faith despite incredible odds.
Molly and her husband, Harrison de Pina (coordinator for evangelism at the East Dominican Conference, and such a help to us there) are good friends with the family and in talking to her we learned that Harrison and Molly were soon to come to the Portland and Milton-Freewater, Oregon areas for meetings. We asked Molly to find out how we could best help Angela have a more satisfying life. One idea was to see if a motorized wheel chair with head brace would make it possible for her to be out of bed and at least have some mobility and independence in her own home. Although Angela does have a wheelchair it is not usable as there is no neck support, and though she has a little movement in her hands and arms she would never be able to maneuver herself.
The de Pinas arrived in Portland about the 10th of April. Though I was out of town, I did have the privilege of talking to Molly via phone. She shared that, yes, some type of motorized vehicle with head rest would greatly enhance Angela’s quality of life. But where to begin searching for one?
I enjoy preaching. I’m a pastor and it’s an area within the work I do that I enjoy. I get to share God’s Word and see how people are impacted by hearing the power of truth. One area of preaching that I’ve never experienced was preaching in a foreign country with a foreign language. One thing that’s essential is a translator with a good working knowledge of English. At least that was what I thought before the trip to the Dominican Republic.
The first night I met my translator was an exciting one, until I actually met Rolondo. Within a few minutes it was obvious that his English was limited. I found out later that the reason Rolondo was chosen was his extensive past experience in doing public meetings. That was great except he really needed to know what I was saying. As we began our meetings, I would speak with Rolondo in the church before our meeting started. We would look over my notes for the evening and I would explain some of the stories and illustrations in a very simple way for him to understand the main points. When the time came for us to preach each evening, I would pray with Rolondo and then go for it. In the midst of preaching I would notice that Rolondo would stay right with me. All the thoughts and stories flowed and came out clearly in English and Spanish (I know enough broken Spanish to see that he was translating my thoughts or words). When I was finished preaching each evening and would go back to the hotel, Rolondo would come too. On the trip we would debrief about the evening. Our conversation was often difficult and cumbersome because of the language barrier. Even very simple questions or comments didn’t seem to go very far. I found myself having to repeat rephrase ideas to get the thought across. It was frustrating! What happened? I can only explain it like this…
Even though Rolondo’s English was limited (it was still better than my Spanish!) and our normal conversations were sometimes slow and frustrating, when I got up to preach each night everything was clear! I believe that when we prayed each evening for God to be glorified, for our words to be clear, and for people to understand the truth of Scripture that God honored our prayers. Everything I preached Rolondo understood and translated. The Holy Spirit brought clarity and a connection between us during that preaching moment so that the word of God could be clearly heard and understood! Although I wasn’t given the gift of tongues in that moment, I do believe that God opened Rolondo’s mind to understand my words in English so that he could convey the message to people who needed God.
When Pastor Alvaro Sauza asked us if we wanted to go to the Dominican Republic, I was really excited. I didn’t want to preach, but there were other things that I could do. Then the Pastor said that they were looking for more preachers and that he may ask a couple of us teens if we felt impressed to preach. When he said that I was scared, I started praying. I didn’t know why he would ask me to preach, but I knew that he was going to ask me. After the Lord calmed me down, He told me that he would be with me. So, when the Pastor asked me to preach I was more than ready to say yes.
On the night of the first meeting, I was really excited, and a little nervous. I told the Lord that I was ready to be a part of His work. The first night STUNK! My translator quit not even five pages into the presentation. I tried to get her to keep going, but she wouldn’t. She was done. She told me to skip to the end because she would not translate any more. I apologized to the audience. I told them that I wasn’t ready to preach like I thought I was and told them that it would be wonderful if they would come back the next day and give me another chance to share the Word of God with them.
Now I had no translator. I thought I might be asked not to come back and preach again. I prayed. Pastors Sauza, Serns, and Loor heard and were shocked by what happened. I was again filled with disappointment and even anger and what had happened, but I prayed again and the Lord lifted all that pain and anger away. I didn’t know what would happen, but I was at peace.
I was blessed to have been matched up with one of the best translators. His name is Victor. He was the one who comforted me after the first night’s disaster when Satan tried to stop the meetings, but God picked me up and guided my words and actions through the whole thing.
During this trip I felt something that I had never felt before. I felt like I was being pulled toward ministry and possibly being a pastor. Now, I love to preach and even more, I love seeing the reaction from people who are hearing the Truth of the Lord for the first time. It is so exciting to watch people making decisions for Christ and it is amazing to know that God wants me to be a part of that with Him. I have always wanted to be a scientist, but perhaps my science will be the science of winning souls with God. (That’s what my mom said). – Michael J. Graham
In November, 2008, my sixteen-year-old friend, Leslie and I confirmed our decision to go to the Dominican Republic in March of 2009. By coming a week later for the shortened student trip, we had to switch the church we were assigned to and I was almost unable to preach my first night. Leslie and I took turns preaching night by night for one week. After three nights of 20 or less in attendance at our tiny, one room church, I talked to my dad about our small numbers. I was so glad almost 20 people came out every night but I was really hoping more would be convicted to come. Monday evening, my dad suggested we pray for more people to come. At our site that night 50 people came. We never had less than 40 come from that night on. Praise God!
This was my third preaching mission trip but on Tuesday, when I preached on baptism, out of 40 people there, seven came forward to the call to be baptized. Though this was my third mission trip to preach, that night I made my first call. It was so awesome to realize that I really had nothing to do with their decisions to come forward, but that I was only someone who allowed God to work through me. Even though almost half the time we didn’t have power, and many times our laptop refused to turn on until after much prayer, God brought us through for the glory of His mission. He really showed me that He does have everything in control if we only serve and trust Him.
My trip to the Dominican Republic was an amazing life changing experience. I had the opportunity to touch a lot of lives and to make friendships that continue to this day. Giving twenty minute sermons forced me out of my comfort zone. This allowed me to grow both personally and spiritually. One of the most rewarding aspects of the trip was witnessing the baptisms that occurred in La Romana at the end of the series of our meetings. Seeing all those people give their hearts to God was very inspirational. I would definitely recommend a mission trip to anyone who wants to achieve spiritual growth.
The single greatest lesson learned from this experience in the Dominican Republic:
Make soul winning my highest priority and that the Holy Spirit works in marvelous ways – Ellen Green
Working for Christ is not about me, He is willing to use anyone. I must only be available – Judy Fowler
To let the Holy Spirit lead – Wanda Green
Let God lead and have faith because He will come through – Ciara Roberts
That everything is possible with God – Leslie Davisson
God can use anyone who is willing to be used – Kathy Sundin
God doesn’t need me to do His work, He could use anybody. God invites me to be part of His work not because He needs me, but because I need Him – Tim Williams
Depend on God instead of my own talents – Bruce Koch
It’s all part of the training, be flexible – Karen Lifshay
It is not the results, it is going where God wants me to go and sowing the seeds. He will bring the harvest in due season – Melinda Freedman
God can help us wherever we’re at – Jeff Ladish
God is in control – Tyler Stewart
Good move to send interns. Surprise: send as many spouses of interns as we can. I knew the value of small groups, but I’m more convinced we can use them more effectively. Greater boldness of Christ – John Freedman
God cares for His people so much that he will use even the weak to bring souls into the kingdom – Vonnette Stewart
That everyone has a powerful testimony of how the Lord has led and blessed in his/her life – Alvaro Sauza
How the power of God can make a huge difference in other people and my own life – Isaac Smith
The work in the DR isn’t necessarily any easier than in the US, but there is more prayer focus, people giving Bible studies, frequent and short reaping meetings and urgency with the Adventist message – Dan Serns
The Lord spoke to my heart through these beautiful sermons and gave me a deeper appreciation for the wonderful Bible truths and a deeper commitment in my relationship with God. I will be taking home a richer relationship with Jesus and more dependence on Him through His Spirit – Sharron Rudig
On my trip home from the Dominican Republic, I went through immigration (the first one) in Miami, I was of the mindset to get through customs and immigration as soon as I could and since tourism was our reason for being in the DR, I was afraid that if I mentioned anything about the mission work we had been doing, I would get a lecture or something. At this point, I was still with the Missoula group. Josh Martz was the first one in our group in the customs line I was in and he mentioned to the officer that we had been doing mission work. I really felt guilty, when I realized that Josh had been sort of witnessing to the customs and immigration officers and I had failed to do so. I felt that I had denied Christ to some extent by not being completely honest with the immigration officer. I resolved right then that I wanted to be a bold witness for Christ like Josh was being.
Later that day, I had the first real spiritual conversation I have ever had on an airplane with my seatmate, Michael. We talked about the Sabbath, baptism, death, the millennium, hell, the Great Controversy, Creation and Evolution, Alaska, the DR, recycling, and energy efficiency. Maybe the Lord allowed his flight the previous day to be cancelled, so we could talk on the flight. He does not smoke or drink and he considers himself receptive. Baptism came up as I showed him the movies of the baptisms at La Trinidad, along with my other DR pictures and video.
The first day after we arrived in the Dominican Republic, we met our translator, Yoel. Yoel was a really cool guy and a really talented linguist. He taught English at the local Adventist school as well as to some baseball players. We didn’t realize this until the end of the week, but Yoel had an interesting story to tell.
When the first group arrived (we didn’t arrive until a week and a half later) Yoel was asked to translate by a local pastor, because they were badly in need of translators (there were over 30 sites). Yoel however, had to work in the evenings, and he didn’t want to preach, so he said no. Then the pastor told him that the next week more people were coming who needed translators (us). Conveniently, at the same time, Yoel’s boss told him that he didn’t have to work the next week. Yoel still didn’t want to, however, and he said he couldn’t when he heard that the two in need of translation were two young teenage girls. Later, however, the pastor told him that they were actually two guys. Yoel had several other excuses, but each time he thought of them, something came up and they were overcome. He decided that God must really be wanting him to speak, so he finally told the pastor he was considering it. The problem was, the entire previous week Yoel had been unable to talk because of a bad cold. He had completely lost his voice. He still had this cold Friday morning, and was unsure how he could translate without being able to talk. But the pastor told him not to worry, and that God would heal him before that night. Sure enough, Friday night Yoel translated for us, and we didn’t even know he had been sick. God works in awesome ways when we follow his instruction and pray.