Today was my first of two travel days to visit my Compassion International sponsored child. The day began with breakfast with Brad and another American pastor here in the Dominican Republic. It was neat to hear how the English speaking church has become both a haven for missionaries serving here and an outreach to English speaking Dominicans and Haitians in the community. It is great to hear of church strategies that bring different ethnic groups together. The American church has much to learn about ethnic diversity in worship.
This morning, I spent some time finalizing details for the pastors’ conference, which starts on Friday. I am praying that this will be an exciting and encouraging time for the pastors. I have finalized session topics for the conference. One Friday night, I will have two practical sessions covering: The Ministry of Presence (John 11) and Equipping Others for Ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16). The Saturday sessions will shift to a more theological nature. The session topics include: Radical Dependence on the Holy Spirit in the Christian Life and Ministry (John 15), Biblical Exegesis (Ephesians 2:1-10), Gospel Narrative: The Storyline of Scripture (Genesis 1, Genesis 3, John 1, Romans 1-3, Revelation 21), and Preaching the Cost of Discipleship (Luke 9:57-62, Luke 14:25-33). The conference will end with a time of prayer for spiritual strength and empowerment based on Ephesians 3: 14-21. I am excited and humbled by the opportunity to invest in these pastors.
The trip to Santo Domingo was a little over 4 hours by bus. I learned today that the Dominican Republic might be the pothole capital of the world. I was able to sleep on the bus ride due to some help from David Crowder Band and Shane Everett on my iPod.
Santo Domingo is an amazing yet sad city. It is amazing because it is the place where Christopher Columbus first landed in the western hemisphere. Tonight, I was able to go see his house, the place where he first landed, and the oldest church in the western hemisphere. It is a sad place due to the exploitation that happens here through the prostitution industry.
Prostitution is considered a legal occupation in the Dominican Republic. It is sad to walk down the street and see teenage girls walking with old men. While on the street visiting historical sites, I was asked multiple times by people if I wanted their services. It is heartbreaking to see these people selling themselves in order to survive. These girls are in this position because they have no other way to make money and live in this society.
The story of the Dominican Republic remains the same the more of the country that I am able to experience. Behind the lights, tourism, and historic monuments, stands a society full of hurting people who need help escaping from the dark place where they find themselves. This restoration is found first and foremost in the gospel, but it is also found in putting feet to the gospel message through community restoration!