Friday, January 21, 2011

Return from The Equator

       More specifically, The Dominican Republic.  I have never desired to go on a missions trip (just being brutally honest here) but it is a part of our 2nd year at Charis Bible College.  Josh and I have never been on a missions trip, and were praying and hoping for a trip to Europe, since we have such a heart for that part of the world.  But when it didn't work out, we trusted that God was doing something in our hearts we did not anticipate.

On January 13, 2011, we traded snow covered mountains, for mountains covered in palm trees.  We swapped scarves for sunhats.  And we went from 'ignorance is bliss' to ignorant no more. 

       We really didn't know exactly what to expect in The D.R., and with that came some apprehension of the unknown.  But when we arrived we were met with a wonderful group of hardworking, Jesus-loving people.  At the center of this group was Tim & Trena Johnson, Evangelists with hearts of gold, and humor that left us rolling with laughter.  Every morning Tim brought a powerful, inspiring and encouraging devotional, and Trena worked endlessly to provide our group of 27 with delicious meals.  Also, in this group was 2 of Tim & Trena's 3 sons, Neal and Darin.  They were both incredibly helpful with set up/tear down of all the equipment that was brought to each outreach.  Trena's parents, "Grandma" & "Grandpa" were also there working on everything from bagging pasta to hand out, to working on the new property just purchased across the street from La Casa Grande ("The Big House" we stayed at).  There were also several locals that have joined their talents and hearts to these Evangelists, Hector (driver, and organizer extraordinaire), Alfonzo (grounds keeper, and was always helping load equipment) and Ambioix (singer- oh, and I am pretty sure I butchered his name).

       The first morning we hit the ground running.  Breakfast at 7:30 and out the door at "8:16" as Tim would say.  We drove about an hour away from La Casa Grande to a small community, very poor, but welcoming people.  There was a truck in the neighborhood when we arrived with loud speakers, they said to the people when they saw us, "The Americans are here.  Your missionaries are here."   And that is when it started. We were missionaries. 

       Every one of our 4 groups had prepared songs, skits, and testimonies to share with the people.  Our group prepared a skit of David and Goliath, where we would pick 3 Dominican children to play David and 2 sheep.  We had no idea we would be doing this skit everyday, sometimes twice a day.  And we certainly had no idea it would be so well received.  Josh was Goliath, and I think he deserves an award for his death scene. :)  Every outreach we would pack up all our props, puppets, generator, instruments, mics, and sound system to put up everywhere from a basketball court to a tin roof church.  We would take turns doing our skits, giving our testimonies, and singing at a moments notice from Tim.  It was a test in being flexible and prepared to let God move through you at any moment.  Tim would give an invitation for those who wanted to receive Christ, and then those that needed a miracle.  Our group layed hands and prayed for many people.  Though we are not exactly sure, somewhere around 50 people accepted Jesus while we were there.  After we prayed and encouraged the people, we had the privilege of handing out food.  The experience that stands out the most to us is the public park we set up at.  We saw the hurting, hard and unchurched melt in the love of Christ through the preaching of The Word.

       Josh and I thought that we would struggle while in The Dominican Republic.  We would have to fight our flesh in our attitude, creature comforts, and frustration in lack of control.  But it was amazing.  We enjoyed it so much!  We saw the powerful function of Evangelism.  That street ministry can be very effective. Even when filled with untrained actors, home-made props, and people that have never spoken in front of a crowd.  God was there. Anointing was there.  Not to make us look good, but to effect the hearts of those that surrounded us.  God wants so desperately to reach the hearts of those who don't know Him.  He can and will use anything and anyone that is willing.  No, what Josh and I are struggling with is being back.  Not that we are not thankful for the US, with its freedoms and prosperity (and I admit- being able to flush toilet paper).  We just see more now what a distraction life can be.  That the pursuit of comfort, money, success can distract.  We have seen more than a glimpse of eternity.  Those things that are eternal: we have seen people take the first step in knowing God. What does it feel like to store up crowns in Heaven to lay at Jesus feet?  And as we feel "reality" trying to suck us back in,  we have a desire to resist.  That what we call "reality" is not real at all.  Is it temporal; falling away from us slowly.  What is eternal is forever.  How can we go back to working a job with deadlines so important to the company, but so unimportant in comparison?  How can we continue going to school with our tests and papers?  We must have reached a new level of Jesus Freakness to feel guilty about going to Bible College!?!?! :)  {Please hear our hearts, we don't think it is evil, or wrong to be successful in business, go to school, or have nice things, we know God directs people to such things.  It is just a perspective change in our own hearts.  We are coming closer to understanding our role in The Kingdom.}  But God, knowing our hearts, was encouraging us (even in The D.R.) to stay the course we are on.  So, we are putting our trust in the Lord.  We are allowing Him to direct our path.  We are trusting that He knows what He is doing, although we sometimes disagree with His method and timing. But one thing is perfectly clear: we are ruined for this.  Our hearts are irrevocably toward ministry, we can never go back... 
And even if we could go back, we wouldn't want to.