General Assembly of the Iglesia Evangélica Dominicana

2014-01-26 10.52.302014-03-06 12.14.57Every year the Iglesia Evangélica Dominicana holds its general assembly in January at their church camp in Bani.  There are 217 delegates who attend the assembly which include the national pastors, lay pastors and church leaders.  They share their church reports, elect heads of service areas, and fellowship together.  Every four years a new Executive Secretary is elected.  Reverend Miguel Angel Cancu has begun his second term as Executive Secretary serving the IED churches.

The missionaries and volunteers are invited to fellowship with the pastors during this time.  We are nine in total, spread throughout the country.  It has been fun for Gordy and I to get acquainted with many of the pastors and also exciting as we are beginning ministries together.

Home Assignment

Ardell and I are planning to come to the US to visit you all beginning in April of 2014.  We are working on our schedule and will be contacting you in January for dates and times.  We have much to tell you about our last chapter in Bolivia, and now our first chapter in the Dominican Republic.  We look forward to renewing acquaintances and making new friends among our supporting church families.  Put the coffee on and we will be there before you know it.

Lost and Found: Children of the Dominican Republic Advance Special #3021935

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The Dominican Republic is a nation built upon a historical foundation that includes genocide, slavery, and exploitation. Throughout the last 500 years the children of this island have been the victims of violence and abuse. Poverty and corruption have crippled this Caribbean nation and those who suffer the consequences most are the children.

For example, adolescent girls and boys as young as 11 and 12 years old are sexually abused by men who buy their innocence for the cost of a piece of bread. The men are unemployed and the children are simply hungry for food. Parents in financial straits will sell their children for a night or a lifetime of prostitution. Hunger, violence, child abuse, unemployment, and a high cost of living create a systemic social environment that destroys life.

The Dominican Evangelical Church (IED) was founded in 1922 as a united church with Methodist, Presbyterian, and Moravian roots. They have a history of social action providing education and medical care in the Dominican Republic. The IED recognizes the need to reach out to these children of poverty in an integrated manner. They have initiated a Vacation Bible School Extension Program for children in their local communities.

These programs take place once a week in the local communities served by the church. The Bible School includes teachings from the Bible, teaching Christian values, human and environmental health, addressing community issues, drama, arts, and music. In addition, the parents are invited for a time of fellowship and teaching after the children’s class. This is a time to listen and respond to the needs and hopes of the parents, to understand the difficulties that they face in raising their children in this society.

The IED churches minister to over 5,000 children and adolescents per year throughout the country via the Vacation Bible School Program. However, this is only a five day program held every summer and they lose contact with a majority of these children. The IED would like to enrich and expand their contact with these children and their families by extending their existing Vacation Bible School Program. In order to achieve this expanded goal the IED will provide 50% of the program costs and the remainder will be raised from the Advance Special.

Please help us respond to the needs of the children in the Dominican Republic.

Curriculum Writing for Advent

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In Sunday School class on Sunday morning, the 1st day of Advent, 8 yr. old Kelvin drew a picture of himself on the journey to meet the baby Jesus.  He was riding a camel beside the 3 wisemen.  He drew his little dog walking alongside the camel.  In another class, a teenager shared that sometimes girls distract him in his journey to meet Jesus.  And one older woman confessed that she no longer wanted to come to the adult Sunday School class since their regular teacher had been relocated to a mission church in another part of the city,  She was so discouraged she didn’t want to attend anymore.  But God nudged her heart to go to anyway and she shared how much she was touched as the new teacher shared the Advent message about preparing our hearts as we are on a journey to meet Jesus.

Three pastors of the Igesia Evangelica Dominicana and Ardell came together and prepared curriculum for 4 age groups of Sunday School classes for Advent.   It is a beautiful, powerful set of materials.  Another lady asked if it would be OK if she used the materials in her community study group with folks who are not Christians.

God works in the most awe-filled ways.  We can all excitingly watch for how God’s love touches everyone around us.

Introduction to Water@Work Project for the IED

IMG_4128 - CopyIMG_4129 - CopyIMG_4163 - CopyWater was created by God.  It is a gift of God for all people.  All people are completely dependent on water to live.  Water is life.  Pure water, uncontaminated, is a daily need of all people rich or poor.  Pure drinking water should be available to all people every day.

In the Dominican Republic the water supply is contaminated.  That has given rise to the business of selling purified drinking water.  This water is sold at a price that is affordable to middle and upper income people.  However, it can be an economic hardship for people of limited income who pay the same price for water as do the rich.  When a family in poverty cannot afford to buy water they cannot decide to stop drinking water until they have money.  They must have water to drink and therefore are forced to drink contaminated water.

As Christians we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves.  We also know that some of our neighbors cannot afford to buy pure drinking water.  We have a responsibility and an opportunity to serve our neighbors with a gift of God, pure water.

As Christians we are also called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Just as water gives life to our physical bodies, the spirit of Christ is a spring of water that gushes up to eternal life (John 4:14).  The spirit of Christ is a gift of God necessary for abundant life, free and available to all people.

Physical water and spiritual water are necessities of life.  Both are the gift of God and both should be available to all.

Water@Work and the IED have made a covenant to work together to provide pure water to drink and the holy water of Jesus Christ which gives life to our spirits.   As members of the IED we have an opportunity to offer the waters of life to our neighbors.

A Covenant Agreement Between W@W and the IED

1)    This Covenant Agreement is between the Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana (IED) and Water at Work Ministry, Inc. (W@W). The IED is a Christian church denomination based in the Dominican Republic and headquartered in Santo Domingo. W@W is a Christian non-profit organization focused on water purification programs. It is based in the United States, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and currently focused exclusively on the needs in the Dominican Republic.

2)   Summary: A concern of any ministry in the developing world is sustainability.  The success of this ministry depends on W@W and the IED having a stable, long term relationship in which both partners are committed to providing potable, clean water at minimum cost to persons who are economically impoverished and in doing so will also offer in word and deed, the living water of Jesus Christ.  The W@W water purification system (E-ROTM) to be installed and operated in the Dominican Republic requires that W@W provides the system and water house, technical service and expertise to install and maintain the system, provides replacement parts including filters (to be paid for by the participating local church contributions to a warranty account from funds collected from water sales).   The IED will provide local church participation in this water service ministry.  The IED will identify churches that have the will and capability to house and manage the water service; provide the leadership necessary to prepare a local church to be a host site, and will follow up with each local church host to insure that service is in keeping with the covenant agreement.  If W@W and the IED maintain a faithful working relationship with common cause in our commitment to the mission of Jesus Christ, we will then have a solid foundation for sustainability.

Gordon is working with this new project orienting local IED churches that wish to participate in this ministry.

A Trip up Red Mountain

2013-11-17 15.08.13 - CopyPastor Bill, Jo and Rev. Fredy 2013-11-17 12.22.12 - CopyWe had the pleasure of receiving two guests from the Dakotas Conference, Rev. Bill Bates and Jo Harris.  As part of their introduction to the Dominican Republic, Ardell and I took them on an excursion to Samaná, a small town on the north side of the island.  After a three hour bus ride we arrived at our backpacker’s hotel, the Docia, located across the street from one of our most famous IED churches.  189 years ago this church building was disassembled in England, shipped to the Dominican Republic, and reassembled in Samaná.  It is an historic landmark and vital place of worship.

We were all up early on Sunday morning, had a quick cup of coffee, fruit juice and a few bites of mangu, mashed plantains and onions.  A brother from the church came by to transport us to the Red Mountain Church, a half hour trip up some small mountains.  There we were met by Pastor Fredy who gave us a tour of the church and the mountain top upon which it rests.  It is an isolated and beautiful rural setting which welcomes body and soul with fresh clean air, a majestic view of the ocean, and this simple church which offers spiritual restoration.

After an ‘old time religion’ gospel service we were invited to the lunch table of fried fish, rice and beans, and salad, a delicious country banquet.  Afterwards we toured the parsonage that is half built and awaiting the funds necessary for completion.  We also had a look of the pastor’s one room quarters and heard of plans for building some small simple rooms for Christian Education classes.  We had just attended Adult Sunday School class prior to worship and discovered there were two other classes of children and youth with us in the same room at the same time.  The noisy chaos convinced us quickly of the need for separate spaces.

On Monday morning we had time for a leisurely breakfast at the local Earth and Sea Restaurant.  We bought our bus tickets for the return to Santo Domingo.

A nice excursion or a fact finding mission trip?   We’ll be back.

Carol Knodle’s visit

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Carol Knodle from the Flame of Faith UMC in West Fargo, ND came to visit us in the Dominican Republic.  Carol has a long history with mission and has led many Volunteer in Mission teams in the past to our previous mission site at Thiu Rancho in Bolivia.  She would like to continue leading teams and came to see first-hand where we might do volunteer mission work together in this ‘new’ land.

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Carol and Rev. Cancu
Carol and Rev. Cancu

 

 

 

 

 

 

We toured some of the church sites where we are placing water purification houses in La Jagua and Doña Ana.  These are sites in poor communities that will offer purified water to lower income families at a minimum cost.  This ministry is modeled after Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well.  It is an opportunity for the local church to reach out to persons in the community to meet a physical need for potable water and also offer an encounter with Christ and the Water that wells up Eternally.

We also took Carol to an Extension Bible School class at the home of sister Milagro, in the barrio of San Luis located in the outskirts of Santo Domingo.   There were about 20 children and adolescents present on a Saturday afternoon, bright eyed and excited to be there.  It is touching to see these kids respond to a brief Bible lesson and how readily they participate when asked questions.  There were no frills on this occasion except a packet of crackers for a snack.

The Extension Bible School meets a need of children who are hungry for a Bible story.  Hermana Milagro offers her very modest home as a refuge that is safe and a weekly reassurance of the love of God.  It is perhaps the only chance that these children have to hear the stories of Jesus.  It is a sorely needed refuge for children who feel lost in the chaos that surrounds them day to day.  We would like to find a way to support this important ministry throughout the island both with volunteer teams and offerings through our new Advance Special #3021935, Lost and Found: Children of the Dominican Republic.

We are grateful for Carol’s heart for mission and hope to host a team from the Dakotas in early 2015.