Today, I had the opportunity to preach at two different churches. It is Father’s Day here in the Dominican Republic. I am preaching on Luke 15 and the story of the prodigal son. It is a blessing to point people to the perfect Heavenly Father in the midst of a culture with paternal absence. On the way to preach this morning, I passed the prison. Outside of the prison was a long line of people with gifts to give their fathers for Father’s Day. It is sad to think about what those families must be going through.
The first church where I preached was a non-denominational church that is led by Blanco, one of the pastors who attended the pastors’ conference. The church met in a brick building with no windows, door, or air conditioning. People sat in plastic chairs. The service began with children leading the church in worship. It was great to see the kids singing songs of praise to God.
The sermon went well. It was a blessing to be able to have the same translator that I had for the pastors’ conference. We are getting comfortable with each other, which makes translation easier. It was great to be able to be a part of this church service and to serve Pastor Blanco and his church.
This evening, I preached at Jacobo’s church, which is Church of Christ. He is one also one of the pastors from the pastors’ conference. This church was unlike anything that I had ever experienced before.
Before arriving at the church, Brad informed me that it was likely to be a 2 ½ hour service. I could not even imagine what a church would do for that long of a service. The service began at 7 PM with lots of singing. There was congregational singing for an hour. This was followed by a time where individuals could come and share a song that the Lord had laid on their heart. This time lasted 30 to 45 minutes. Then, it was time for me to preach.
The sermon went well. This was a charismatic congregation in that they would dance and clap enthusiastically in worship. They would also respond with “Amen” and applause at the high points of the sermon. It is always a blessing to preach when you know that people are connecting to what you are saying and are being moved by the power of the Holy Spirit through the Word.
This church is in Augas Negras, which is one of the worst areas that Brad works. He ended the service by encouraging them to be lights in the midst of the darkness pointing people to Jesus. It has been a great experience to be in these different churches! God is moving around the world through His church, and it is a blessing to be able to see how different and beautiful His work looks in different places!