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A recap of our trip to the Dominican Republic - from Evan Lemkuil

On July 14th we were able to send out 11 men and women from Summit to travel to the Dominican Republic and serve alongside our partner LoveServes and El Refugio church in Haina. 

During the week leading up to the trip we planned and scheduled out what we would be doing with the church in Haina; basketball and volleyball camps, VBS for children, construction, and men's and women's outreach events. However, just days before we left, Hurricane Beryl sent heavy rains into the community causing flash flooding and destruction through the city.

When we arrived in the DR, the pastor of the El Refugio’s fifth campus (there are 6 total campuses in Haina) greeted us and began walking us through the streets so that we could evaluate the damage. He brought us into the church building and described how they stacked equipment on top of itself to salvage what they could. As we walked the streets we saw debris-covered cars that had been completely submerged, ruined furniture and household items, all brought to the street side to be thrown away. These people who already live in extreme poverty had lost everything. 

Our job for the next several days would be clean up and salvage work with the men and women of the church. We shoveled leftover mud, debris, garbage, and discarded items into a dump truck that rumbled down the main stretch of the Quinto Sueno where the church is located. As we worked, we met men and women who were picking up the pieces. They didn’t have access to the relief that so many received following the hurricane damage and flooding we experienced last year in Southwest Florida. There were real moments of pain and sorrow as we took time to pray with the members of the community.

We were thankful to see the willingness of the church to step into the gap, and with a smile and a helping hand, support their community in the name of Jesus. Each day the pastor of the church was working alongside of us, ministering to his community as they experienced the love of God extended through His church. 

One particular day, a group of us took to the streets to pray with the families of the community. During our time we came across a man named Jose and his wife and 3 children, along with his sister and mother. They were all living in a home together, sharing beds, each suffering from some form of ailment or injury. We were able to share the hope of Christ, to pray for the family, and to invite him to a men’s gathering we were going to have at the church.

We didn’t know who would be willing to show up during such a devastating time, but there was a large group that turned up for our men’s and women’s ministry events. During our men’s gathering Jose showed up looking weary and burdened. It was that night that one of the pastors on the team shared the heart of God for men:

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 2:20

It was after the sharing of this message that Jose gave his life to the Lord. He clearly declared that Jesus is Lord and confessed his sins to Him. The pastor was able to get his information and connect with him, sharing his heart for the community and his desire for Jose to be connected into the life of the church. 

Jose had showed up to the meeting in such desperation. Yet he was the perfect picture of who Jesus wants us to be. In a moment, everything we hold dear can be taken away, and we will be faced with the reality that all we truly have in this life is Christ. It was sobering for all of us on the trip, to realize the blessing that it is to know Christ. Our lives have been crucified with Christ, and its no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us! 

We are so grateful for those of you who prayed for our trip! The love of Christ was tangibly demonstrated, the gospel was proclaimed and God was glorified!

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