The Upside-Down Kingdom

10/26/07

This summer I was blessed to help lead a team of thirteen interns into Barahona, Dominican Republic. It was a great time of growth and many life lessons for all of us. One of the lessons we learned was how to serve others and the richness and blessing it brings to our lives. Jesus taught and lived a life full of humility and he demonstrated this numerous times in the scriptures through acts of service. One of his most famous was the washing of his disciples’ feet when he told his disciples: “You will be blessed if you do this,” referring to how he had served them. We have found this to be amazingly true this summer.

Our team of thirteen had plenty of opportunities to serve others as we helped with sponsorship updates, English classes, math/reading/writing classes all taught in Spanish, as well as individual afternoon ministries such as baseball, softball, dancing, mural painting, and simply playing with children. As we performed these acts of service we were continually challenged and awed by the Lord as we were blessed by how these people responded. The children valued the smallest things and simply enjoyed being with us as if we were special and important. The older children laughed and participated as we taught them, while the little ones learned…well sometimes…and simply wanted to be held or to have special attention.

We were also continually blessed with our host families who treated us as their own. It was so hard to serve them, because they simply loved us and treated us as important family members. On one occasion we were invited over to Dr. Bautista’s house for a big dinner full of lots of food, fun, laughter, and fellowship. Everywhere we looked to serve, the returns greatly outweighed the seeming sacrifices that we thought we were making when we left our homes in the States.

As we spent more and more time with the children in the bateys we realized that somehow they were serving and blessing our lives more than we were blessing theirs. It was so humbling that the Lord taught us and showed us what service was when we were supposed to be serving them.

It was personally humbling when the baseball Bible study ended as the teenagers expressed to me that it was very sad that it had to come to an end. Here I was leading this study twice a week with broken Spanish and, most likely, silly follow-up questions, and yet they seemed to greatly value my attempts and time spent with them. They gave me great friendship and taught me so much about culture, baseball, joy, and who God is. Please pray for these young men, as one, Carlos, does not know the Lord, while others are young in their faith and male spiritual leadership is in great need in the bateys.

Gloria a Dios (Thanks be to God) for the hope and future of these precious children.