What I Learned in the Dominican Republic: Part 1

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By Rev. Christopher B. Cain

I recently returned from a short term missions trip to the Dominican Republic. It was a life changing experience to be part of a mission team with my wife, my church family, and to be among and fellowship with the people of the Domincan Republic. There is much that a short term mission trip can teach the believer. Whether as believers we find ourself apathetic, discouraged, disappointed, hungry, excited, or just plain on fire for God there is much to be learned regardless of the state of your Christian walk. Not only does going to the mission field help put your walk in perspective, it allows you the chance as a believer to be obedient in the calling that all believers are called to in Matthew 28:19-20, and that is to go into all the world to preach the Gospel and make disciples of Christ. There is much to be said for blooming where you are planted as a believer, but we are still called to go into all the world preaching and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I firmly believe that obedience to the Great Commission draws a believer into a deeper understanding of and communion with Christ. How can you have an intimate relationship with Christ if you do not know and care for the people He intimately cares for? When any group of believers finds themselves in need I believe we must see it not only as our duty, but our high honor and distinct privilege of being an ambassador of Christ to them, regardless of where they live. I would like to share a few things that I learned while on this recent journey.

The Dominican is a beautiful country on the island if Hispaniola. It is bordered by Haiti to the west, the only other nation on the island. There is great beauty in the Dominican, but the untold beauty is also contrasted by extreme poverty. For Americans going to the Dominican, knowing that the average person there has so much less than we do, it can be easy to incorrectly think that we have it so much better just because of our material goods. One thing which struck me along with the absence of material things, was that in the absence of material goods they had an abundance of joy. It became quickly apparent to me that we are drowning in apathy in our great nation. We have been sold a fake bill of goods, and a false ideology here in America that we must acquire an abundance of things to be successful and happy. Nothing could be further from the truth, yet greed and misinformation keep us from recognizing that our true happiness lies in understanding who we are as children of God. I saw first hand over and over in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ, both Haitian and Dominican, who recognized and rejoiced in the fact that they are children of the Living God and Risen Savior the Lord Jesus Christ!

We take for granted the great healthcare we have here in the United States. The self obsessed and warped view many have is a result of pride, and some even demand health care as a right. I heard of a case from a friend I made in the Dominican of how when his children are sick he stays up all night praying for them, as he can not just run into the doctor. I have nothing against doctors by the way, I am on my way to one today. I just wonder how life would change for us if we went to God first, rather than to the doctor. What would life be like if as parents it was not uncommon for us to stay up all night praying for our children? My friend and translator while I was there, Gaby, shared with me how his daughter had a high fever and she was crying and screaming and as he prayed with her he felt lead to command her to go to sleep in the name of Jesus, to which his little daughter immediately fell asleep and woke up fine the next morning. What if we had that kind of faith? We wonder why we do not see healings like we see in scripture. I think it is as simple as we do not rely on God as they did. It is not enough to just believe, we must fully surrender to Jesus. Remember the Bible says that “even the demons believe and tremble” (James 2:19).

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