Archive | October, 2009

What if a church started meeting a community’s needs before it ever opened its doors?

29 Oct

Water, health, education and electricity.  The Centro Cristiano Bendicion (CCB) in the Dominican Republic identified the four top needs of Dominicanos, particularly those who live in very poor conditions.  Water is there, but no one would consider drinking it.  Amoebas and dysentery are sure to follow every drink from this unreliable source.  So clean, filtered water is purchased in five gallon containers, an expensive proposition for many. 

Enter the CCB, led and organized by Domincan nationals.  A community is identified and a small water filtration storefront is opened.  Water is sold at half the cost of commercial providers.  Neighbors come for the water and get to know the staff who serve with a kind word and a blessing.  Soon a small building is rented close by.  A pastor family engages with the community through the water ministry and beings ministering to the spiritual needs of the people who come.  A church begins naturally and grows as the community begins to understand that this church is different…it truly cares about serving them. 
Education, though provided by the government, is often inaccessible due to travel and distance.  The church begins a small school.  Children bring their homework to their parents who are unable to help.  So evening classes are begun to help parents learn to read and write.  In one community the shanty homes offer no protection during seasonal hurricanes, so the church built its rough sanctuary as a storm shelter for the hundreds who have no other option.  Health clinics are provided during the week, along with children’s activities. 
Meanwhile, through discipleship and mentoring, people who have found Christ begin to understand how He has gifted them.  New pastors are trained and new communities are opened.  Income from the water and school activities do not go to the local church, but instead are fully invested in opening new locations for new works.
The church planting model is unique in that the CCB is one church with multiple locations.  Each Sunday the same topic is used in every location.  Pastoral staff are shared among all locations and retreats and other church events include both the poor and the middle-class together.  With all learning together and all serving the same goal of reaching the DR for Christ, this model is destined to continue a strong and consistent growth path.

Hanging by a thread

28 Oct

Five guys, one lady, and a series of swinging bridges. Amazingly no one got wet.

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Bread delivery Dominican style

28 Oct

Believe it or not, this guy has already delivered half his bread. When he starts in the morning you can’t even see someone is driving the motorcycle! Gasoline and cars are expensive, yet fresh bread is a must. So these little bikes are everywhere and their drivers are incredibly inventive in getting the most out of this most convenient mode of transportation.

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Last view of Santo Domingo

20 Oct

I’ve gotta come back here and add a day to enjoy the ocean. The diving is supposed to be wonderful. Believe me, this has not been my surroundings these past five days!

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Quick update from the DR

20 Oct

Incredible ministry here in the DR. Holistic, Christ centered, disciple making, team led.

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A Common Theme: Connecting

17 Oct

My life in the past month could be summed up by one word: Connecting. Time alone in an empty house during my first “official” personal retreat day allowed me to connect with God meaningfully. An introduction at church allowed me to connect with a doctor who works with the underserved in a Christian clinic in La Carpio, and has provided an opportunity to use my skills to minister to those in need. Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with individuals from high school and college whose lives intersected mine in a specific time and place. My older children attend the college in which Brian and I met over 25 years ago—and I was able to reconnect with them while attending my 25th year class reunion, and with my maid of honor and matron of honor. My spiritual mentors from high school and bubbly blonde Diane shared our lives over pie at Bakers Square, and a late night Christmas shopping spree at Walmart.

Such connections are manifestations of God’s grace and goodness, encouraging us to continue on, and to offer hope and love to individuals who are disconnected, discouraged and hopeless. Jesus spoke of connection in John 15- He referred to Himself as the true vine and discussed the importance of abiding in Him—and of the converse, a branch not connected, which withers, dies, and yields no fruit. Are you connected? Am I?

How we treat our guests

13 Oct

Anna washes dishes while instructing our guest in the finer points of rinsing.

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Hiking La Carpintera

11 Oct

Sunday on my own…a hike into the hills seemed in order. So I called my friend Rick to join me and we hiked into the cloud forest of the little mountain ridge called La Carpintera. Behind Rick in the first picture were five of the largest aloe vera plants I’d ever seen. Not pictured (but true) one had a central stem that rose 30 feet into the sky through the surrounding forest. In the second picture is seen the Central Valley area of Costa Rica where half the population of the country lives.

Nice hike up, but my bad knee (thanks to a little motorcycle accident in Pakistan many years ago) had some trouble coming back down. Time for some ibuprofen, ice, and a good book.

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Kart race in mall parking lot

10 Oct

Anna and I were out tooling around and ran into a professional kids kart race…right in a mall parking lot. The drivers couldn’t have been more than six years old but they handled high speed turns like pros. Lots of fun but it sure made it hard to find somewhere to park!

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Dinner with Tico friends

8 Oct

Typical food with long conversation is part of every dinner with friends all over the world. Costa Rica is no exception.

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