Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Thrive

Mission team member Kellie Gerdts with some precious Dominican children.

I was recently blessed to be asked to participate in a mission trip to the Dominican Republic through Bethany Global Short Term Missions. The following blog post was written about a week ago in Santo Domingo, on the team’s second full day there.

When I first heard the Casting Crown’s song, “Thrive”, I liked it, but my “Christian radar” went up. We were made to thrive?

Really?

There are Christians all over the world who are definitely NOT thriving. Poverty, pollution, illness, disease, corruption and all forms of evil afflict God’s people all over the world.

Faith in Jesus definitely does not guarantee an easy life. Jesus said in this world, we will have trouble. (John 16:33)

My first impression of the Dominican Republic is that this is a place where people are not thriving.

Santo Domingo is a crowded city of three million people. The homes are concrete block that would never pass a building inspection in the U.S.

They have running water, but it is cold water only. Many homes have black plastic tanks on the roofs to supply water to the home when the power goes out—and the power goes out at some point pretty much every day.

And the traffic!

The traffic can only be described as absolute automotive anarchy.
The streets are narrow and almost all have no street signs, no stop signs, and no speed limit signs. People often park on the sidewalk. There are police here, but they are so vastly outnumbered as to be of little effect.

It’s like the entire city is a maze of a million round-a-bouts filled with cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, street carts, an occasional horse-drawn cart, and tens of thousands of buzzing little motorcycles weaving in and out of the ceaseless bumper-to-bumper melee.

There is litter everywhere because of the poverty and a simple lack of what is necessary to deal with it effectively.

In short, it looks like these people are doing anything but thriving.

But at the end of the first full day of being inundated and overwhelmed and having my heart broken by what I perceived as misery all around me, we attended a church service at the Altar of God church.

What we experienced was a people whose faith is thriving.

There is such love for the Lord here in these people. Their praises rise again and again with shouts of “Gloria Diós!” and “Aleyuya Jesús!”

This is a church and a people of God on fire for Jesus! The Holy Spirit is here in power, burning and growing and shining with brilliant light.

So, while the temporary things of the flesh here seem chaotic and weak and poor, the LORD’s passion and love for his people is indeed thriving and sending down deep and eternal roots.

Where my heart broke for the earthly conditions here, my soul is jealous of their zeal for the One who died and rose again to save us all.

GLORIA DIÓS! ALEYUYA JESÚS!

Today’s Praise
Shine like the sun,
Make darkness run and hide,
We were made to thrive!

(Lyrics from "Thrive" by Casting Crowns)


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