Devotionals for Pastor’s Retreat on the Theme of Violence

My little room had 3 mangos on the bed, geckos running around on the walls, tiny mosquitos everywhere that bite like monsters, horrendous heat and humility  and a fan that sounded like a roaring train coming at ya.

I was asked to lead a series of 3 devotionals during a pastor’s retreat where the theme was violence in the society.

I decided my goal would be to try to get them to connect with their context in the Dominican Republic and to the power that God gives us all to respond to the issues around us. We especially wanted to focus on the reality of violence, which they are very concerned about.  One of their statistics is:

The Latin American Bureau:  “domestic violence, the biggest source of violence against women in the Dominican Republic”. 

The latest data from the Procuraduría Fiscal del Distrito Nacional (Santo Domingo) puts the number of complaints of domestic violence in the past two years at over 15,000, with this type of crime making up 23% of total offences reported in the capital alone – the single most reported offence. Of the 199 femicides in the past 12 months, 46% were as a result of domestic violence

Gordy made me a wooden frame measuring 16 feet X 3 feet X 6 inches deep.  We used 2 of the heavy solar oven tables to hold it.

I chose items from nature to represent the dynamics of the devotionals, such as:

Soil represented their culture, the context in which they live.  They had a lot of fun with this part of the dynamic as they named historical facts, political facts, the religions on the island, the languages spoken, the different groups of people living here, the geography and environment, the agriculture and of course their music and food. With every example they shared they put a glass full of soil in the wooden frame.

They then filled tiny glass vials with water and placed a leaf in each one as they shared about words that describe God’s character, Jesus actions with people, and the Holy Spirits presence with us all.

Rocks and stones were placed in the structure as they shared the issues they deal with every day. Shredded garbage was distributed in the scene as they began focusing on the types of violence they all experience and wilted petals were spread to represent specific people and families they know who are suffering and struggling in the midst of the violence.

We then placed each of the Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana churches,  little wooden blocks with painted windows, in the scene with their crosses made from tiny branches woven together with yarn.  Different types of seeds; tiny pine cones, rice seed, pia pia seeds and cashews seeds were used to represent men, women, children and the elderly in their congregations.

Each one then light a candle, made a vow of committed to their churches and communities and placed themselves in the midst of the scene as we bowed our heads and listened to the prayer of Teresa de Avila,

“Christ has no body but yours. 

No hands, no feet on earth but yours. 

Yours are the eyes with which He looks

Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. 

Yours are the hands with which He blesses the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

Compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”


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