I arrived at our campus early Thursday morning. I was there to pray with a team of short-term missionaries on the way from our church to the Dominican Republic. This group of six -- four men and two women -- will spend the next week wiring a building for electricity. I definitely needed to stay home for this project!
As usual, the people on the team are making a sacrifice to go. Two of the men own small businesses and know the risks of walking away for a week. One of the guys has already made several construction trips out of the country this year. All of them could give great reasons to stay home. But they went.
It's the fifth time this year that a team has left our parking lot headed for the same destination. There's a story to tell...
Almost exactly six years ago we were invited to bring our Worship Band and me down for a gathering of their association of churches. We left on that trip with the usual trepidation many feel as they step on a plane, knowing their next steps on terra firma will be in a third world country. That trip was an emotional roller coaster, leaving some of us simply glad to get back home and others getting in line for the next experience. Soon we were involved in a formal partnership, sending construction teams twice a year. More people kept signing up to go.
As our DR relationship grew, one skeptic was left behind -- me! I just didn't get it. I seriously wondered if we were really accomplishing the work Jesus had for our church. Mark, our Missions Team Leader, urged me to come back down in the Spring of 2005 to see what was happening there. That's when God started rocking my missions boat.
I had a long talk with Manolo, the Dominican pastor, asking him how I could help. My offer may have been the typical, "Let me know if I can do anything to help you," which usually gets no response (which is exactly the hoped-for response!). Welllll, Manolo told me exactly how I could help, then had the sheer audacity to invite me back one month later!
That "one month" took a little more than two, but it started a journey that keeps changing my life. Each summer, we invite other churches to travel there with us and see the work. The Dominicans and the Haitians who live there are planting churches like wildfire. Their resource needs are incredible! We look for American churches that want to get involved in hands-on missions and are willing to consider a partnership. At least four other churches are now actively involved.
In the meantime, people from our church want to go down and serve. Besides construction, we have sent medical teams, VBS leaders and a Biblical Counselor. Well over 100 different people have gone from our church at one time or another. When you count the other teams we have taken, over 200 have served.
Skeptical no more, I just sit back in awe of God's kindness to allow us to be part of His work! I'm thrilled that we have been able to send five teams this year. I can't wait 'til we can send ten!