Part III: Taking it to the streets

Posted: July 23, 2014 in Dominican Republic, Ministry, Missions, Pastoral ministry, Wightman UMC
Our group walks down the street in Santiago to invite people to attend VBS.

Our group walks down the street in Santiago to invite people to attend VBS.

One of the things that this mission trip to the Dominican Republic offered was a chance to do something I really haven’t had the chance to do before.

I’m talking about making contact with people you’ve never met before and inviting them to be a part of what you’re doing in faith.

I’ve done some personal evangelism before, but it wasn’t a big part of what I had to do in seminary.

So, this was a chance to really “go and make” as the Great Commission directs us to do.

Then, we went to Congregacion Cristiana Rey Eterno, the church we working with, and we headed out in small groups to meet the community.  At least on the first day, we had a mission.

We were to introduce ourselves, meet those living in the houses on our assigned streets and we were to invite them to bring their children to Vacation Bible School.  We were helping to put on the VBS for the church.

It was interesting as the “adult” in the group (aside from Awilda, our interpreter) to listen as the younger people would decide who would speak at each house.

It was also amazing to see the ways they would step up, ask questions and invite others to VBS.

The streets we were on in Santiago were an interesting mix of all styles of homes.  Some stood behind elaborate metal fences and gates.  Some open spaces were filled with banana trees.

The neighborhood was peppered with small businesses.  We entered into a store, passed by several people selling bananas, plantains and mangos, and we saw people pushing carts of items for sale down the street.

From time to time, cars would pass us on the street and motorcycles would zip in and around the obstacles on the road.

In this backdrop, we begin the task of invitation.

I don’t remember a home in which the people there didn’t welcome us.  Awilda served as our translator and, when it was our turn to speak, we would speak through her.

There are things that seem to work across cultures when it comes to this type of sharing.

  • We have to open ourselves up to talk to the person we are meeting.
  • We need to be interested in their lives and what we are experiencing.
  • We share those places in our live and our journey that give us a common experience.
  • We shared information on the church and how the children could come and be a part of VBS.

I loved listening to the conversations that we would have.  Maybe it’s because they seemed so warm and friendly.   It’s so possible to come across as cold, almost as if you are leading an interrogation, in the way that you ask the questions.

Maybe on that first day, we went to 15-20 homes.  When the VBS began that day, I saw many of the people we had talked to bringing their children to participate in the VBS.

It makes me wonder, sometimes, why we can’t do more things like that in our own community?  Is it because the rejection is easier when you are that far away from home?  Or is it something else.

I’m still struggling through that question.  Yet, I know that I saw the power that day of talking to people, sharing faith and inviting.

Maybe that’s the day that I was able to see the Great Commission in a whole new light.

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  — Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

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