So, how was church?

Sunday School class meeting under the tree.
Sunday School class meeting under the tree.

 

Ardell & Rev. Luisa
Ardell & Rev. Luisa

Ardell and I do not have a home church yet in Santo Domingo.  So this last Sunday we decided to attend a Dominican Evangelical Church (IED for short) in a not too distant neighborhood  known as Ensanche Luperón.  We know the pastor, Rev. Luisa, a wonderful spirited woman very dedicated to her church and community.

At 10:30am we arrived.  Ardell visited the Sunday School classes for children meeting outdoors and I went into the sanctuary for the last half of Adult Sunday School.  Even at mid-morning the temperature is near 90 degrees with 85% humidity.  That is why the kids meet outdoors under a big shade tree.

Surprisingly, the small sanctuary is air-conditioned, it has to be, we found out.   There is enough seating for about 80 people max but somehow 160 persons would cram in.  At 11 am there was a steady stream of brethren looking for seats and a flock of laughing, jumping children from the Sunday School.

The ‘tias’ (aunties) are enlisted to ride herd on the kids who need to sit down but just cannot seem to land as they bounce around and squirm, so filled with energy and excitement.  The ‘tias’ are patient but it is something like trying to persuade pigeons to stand in order on park benches, “Hey, get back here!”

Adoration is the first pillar of worship in the IED church.  Once it starts, momentum builds as the musicians with ascending gusto take to African and traditional drums, electric guitar and bass, a trumpet, tamborines, and something that looks like a large vegetable grater.  A few young ladies lead the singing with microphones that lift their voices above the instruments.  It is all amplified enough to clear sinuses and vibrate internal organs and so it goes for an hour and a half.

It is now 12:45pm and the sermon has not yet been given.  The sermon is the second pillar of worship and can easily go for a full hour.  Only 45 minutes this time.  And then the Lord’s Supper, the offering, a special song, and greetings.  Ardell and I are asked to say a few words being we are visitors.  I commented to the brethren that their sanctuary is too small and they need a bigger one.  A shout went up and then applause.

After the benediction, many handshakes and hugs, we flowed out into the street in the full heat of the day, now 2:15pm.  Our heads were still buzzing.  Three and one half hours of religion at high volume left us a little stunned but with a good feeling inside that along with our Dominican brothers and sisters we had indeed worshiped God.

A New Church is Consecrated

Rev. Cancu at his childhood home.
Rev. Cancu at his childhood home.

 

during the church service
during the church service

 

IED church in Samana
IED church in Samana

I had an opportunity to travel to Samana, which is a city located on a peninsula on the northern side of the island, to witness the consecration of an IED mission church.  As we were driving to the church, we stopped at Rev. Cancu’s boyhood home to greet his 101 year old mother.  She was a bump on the bed, yet took my hands so strongly and ever so quietly whispered that she is still on the earth to ‘eat a little and pray a lot’.

His sister served us a sweet, heavy cornbread with hot chocolate as we began on our way up the mountain to the mission church.

The Monte Rojo church has been a mission church for years and was consecrated as an official church that morning at 10:30.  I was so surprised to see that the church was packed with people on a Tuesday morning.  They sang many choruses and the church seemed to ‘rock’ with the movement and dancing.  They even sang 2 songs in English, “Give me That Old Time Religion” and I have no idea what the second one was because I couldn’t understand the words.  The sermon was on following God and while they were collecting the offering,  a group of young girls spontaneously stood up, went to the front of the church and began dancing in a circle.

In the midst of the celebration I was greeted warmly.

After the service we had a huge lunch of fish, okra, rice and beans and sweet potato salad.  No one left hungry.

We drove through the town of Samana on our way back to Santo Domingo and they took me past the first Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana church on the island, which  is now 189 years old.  The church was disassembled in England, shipped to the Dominican Republic and reassembled.

As we drove back to the city through the palm oil plantations, I sat in awe knowing I had witnessed the faith of many people.

Greetings

015 - CopyDear friends,

We are grateful for your prayers and your support, especially now as we begin a new mission journey with the Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana (IED).

We were in a meeting this week with two national pastors, one who is the head of the seminary and a previous executive secretary for the IED.  They expressed to us that they believe it is God’s will for us to come to the Dominican Republic. It was encouraging to hear that as we seek to find our way in a new mission.

As we listen and learn from the Dominican people, we are beginning to understand what the needs are and how we can support the ministry of the church.

We do this knowing that we are together with you in mission and are aware of your prayers for us, daily.  Ardell & Gordon

Please continue reading to find our most recent newsletter,  the first from the Dominican Republic.

Vacation Bible School in Santo Domingo

July 2013 016 July 2013 010 July 2013 005 As part of our orientation process Ardell and I have been visiting some VBS programs around the city.  Our immediate observation is the masses of children that attend, 200 to 400 kids in each church.  The noise level is roaring as the teachers try to keep order and attempt to manage the presentation of a program.  It is not chaos however and the children are in their own way being attentive.

The children love to sing even if it sounds more like shouting.  There are smiles all around and a general mood of joy.  These are children of poverty and one can only imagine the circumstances they face day to day.  But at VBS there is a time to focus on God’s love and grace expressed by the caring teachers and helpers.  The sandwich and juice that are given are not the main attraction but a close second for children who are never sure of their next meal.  Singing, drama, Bible study, a bite to eat, and lots of love combine to bless a multitude of children.

Sister Churches

discipleship with Puerto Ricans 002 discipleship with Puerto Ricans 004One of life’s greatest gifts is to have a sister or brother that understands us and cares about our well being.  Sometimes this sibling type of relationship exists between two churches as it does between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.  The two evangelical churches share some common history, doctrine, and mission.

The Puerto Rican church brought twenty pastors and lay leaders to the Dominican Republic to share with us their journey of a new focus on diaconal ministry.  They have significantly strengthened their churches by encouraging their lay persons to exercise their gifts in service to their local church and community.  The ministry of the diaconate lay membership is to be administrator of the grace of God.

Ardell and I were invited to participate for a few days of this encounter at a Dominican church camp.  It was a blessed time of fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ who are so enthusiastic to give and to learn and grow in faith.  We shared meals together, lived in rustic conditions, worshipped together, and shared our faith and experience with one another.  We can and do learn much from books and videos but how great it is when the ‘word becomes flesh’ and lives with us.

Christian Education Workshop in Sabaneta

We were asked to facilitate our first Christian Education workshop in Sabaneta, Dominican Republico on May 12th.  Sabaneta is a small village on the northern coast of the DR, 3 ½ hours from the capital city of Santo Domingo.  The Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana has 7 circuitas, which are mission churches in this area.

Gord and I were so amazed when we met in a small outdoor pavilion with no walls but a roof, which held 40 people comfortably in a circle and 62 educators showed up, all so eager and open to find new ways to work with children.

I think this workshop happened very quickly after we just arrived in the Dominican on April 4th,  yet, God willing, some very positive things will happen and we will be able to support these folks as they share God’s precious love with the children and youth in their communities.

Please say a prayer for them.  And please pray that we will have many more chances to share together with this community.   020 024 019 - Copy