by Charissa Birnbaum Posted Jan 24, 2014
Last week, my fellow Forge students and I took a 9-day adventure to Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. The Forge is Pine Cove’s resident discipleship program. There we joined alongside a ministry called Students International (SI) to assist local missionaries at various sites that included microfinance, social work, community health, dentistry, education, special education, sports, and physical therapy.
After a long day of travel on Friday, we kicked off our week in the DR with a day of tourism. What better way to experience the beauty of La Republica Dominicana than with a rafting trip! 27 of the 29 members of the group took off for the rapids while the remaining two of us went hiking with a missionary to see a beautiful waterfall.
In both cases, we were able to experience the greatness of God through His nature in such a beautiful country. We finished out the day with some shopping in town and eating authentic Dominican cuisine including some remarkable roasted goat.
Just because you’re in another country doesn’t mean you get to skip church! On Sunday we were privileged to worship alongside local Dominicans.
We spent the rest of Sunday afternoon in orientation sessions, learning about the history and culture of the DR as well as the mission of Students International.
The design and vision of SI is to provide a way for mission teams to enter into the ongoing ministry of local missionaries. In each SI country, there are several different bilingual missionaries at various sites using their occupational skills to minister to the local people.
From Monday onward, we began our mornings with worship and a testimony from one of the missionaries. After a quick breakfast (and a couple cups of Dominican coffee), we loaded up on the trucks and ministered at our assigned sites for the day.
One of the coolest parts of the trip for me was witnessing the discipleship from the SI missionaries to both the locals and to us students at the sites.
We were given the opportunity to see people following the Lord’s call on their lives by using their gifts and passions to meet the needs of others and bring them the Gospel. For some people, they ministered through teaching locals how to make budgets for their businesses, while for others it was making bracelets with preteens and teaching them how to play ninja. The Lord can use anything!
Every evening, the SI staff had a programmed event planned for us after dinner.
On Monday they taught us the traditional dance of the DR called Meringue. Then on Tuesday, they built a fire and we had a sweet time of worship.
On Wednesday we went out with our site leaders into the communities where we had been serving and ate dinner in a home. Most of us were given a meal that contained some combination of rice, chicken, and plantains, finishing out the evening with a game of dominoes.
On Thursday, the Forge led an evening of worship and prayer for the SI staff. Friday night, we dressed up and went down to a restaurant on the river for a wonderful banquet dinner. We spent the rest of the evening exchanging gratitude with the site leaders and thanking the Lord for all He had done during the week.
I think I can speak for everyone in saying that the one week we had in Jarabacoa was enough to remind us of the greatness of God that supersedes every language, circumstance, and need. As I watched the missionaries, I saw real people just living out of their identity. On this trip, I was reminded of the simple truth that every human being is desperate for the life that is found in Christ, whether they know it or not.
My professor needs Him just as much as the 16-year-old mother of three in the Dominican Republic. The Gospel is for everyone, and God wants to work through individuals with specific designs to bring His message to the world.
Thank you to all who prayed for us during our trip! It was a wonderful and powerful week! I pray that the Lord will continue to move in the lives of the people in Jarabacoa, the missionaries working there, and the students that will come in and out of SI.
Grace and Peace,
Pine Cove Forge Class of 2014