Your Next Right Thing

08/31/15

My first day in the Dominican Republic was overwhelming. The poverty was staggering. The discrepancy between what they have and what I have was sobering. The sheer number of kids and families who need support was paralyzing. The quantity of visible needs was disheartening. 

Yes, the first day was overwhelming. Then came days two through seven. 
 
Those were the days where the poverty, discrepancy, and needs turned into people. Those were the days when “overwhelming” turned into “hope-filled.”
 
Here are just a few of the Dominican people God used to change me:
 
Damion – The man in his late twenties who was our primary liaison and organizer. He showed up every morning while we ate breakfast, stayed with us all day, and left after dinner. Rarely did I ever see Damion when he wasn’t smiling, laughing, or telling us about the wife and one-year-old son he adored and was working to provide for. By the way, when you meet him, ask him to tell you the joke about the guy with a missing front tooth. Priceless. 
 
Alejandro – The shy, 12-year-old kid I looked for every day upon arriving in the community of Altagracia. The first time we met he didn’t say much. I asked him in Spanish if he spoke English. “No” was his simple reply. He was shocked when I told him he did. Again, his confused reply was “No.” By pointing first to myself and then to him, I had him repeat: “My … name … is … Alejandro!” I said loudly. “Alejandro,” he said quietly, but cracked a smile. Again and again. Each time I said his name louder. “Alejandro!” 
 
At first the other kids stared at the strange American who was yelling at Alejandro. But once they caught on, they started smiling. Then laughing. Then shouting “Alejandro!” along with me. Each time, Alejandro’s smile grew wider. And each morning, when I wanted to see him smile, all I needed to do was say, “My…” and point. 


                                          Alejandro (in orange) and a few of his buddies from the village.
 
Joiada – The beautiful young girl who helped Kari, my wife, with crafts, nail-painting, and general chaos control. Each morning she greeted the bus. Each afternoon she walked us to the bus, passed out bear hugs, and waved as we drove off. 
 
Wilson – The 27-year-old principal of the school in Altagracia, a graduate of COTN’s university program. I spent several days walking and talking with Wilson, learning what it means to care for an entire community. He knew everyone. And boy did they know Wilson! Every adult had a question or a wave. Every kid had a hug. He showed me his home, introduced me to his parents, and spoke of his prayers for his siblings. On our last night, he brought his fiancée to our fiesta. I am almost 20 years older than Wilson. And yet, I want to be like him when I grow up. 

 
 
(Another) Alejandro – The 8-year-old boy who walked with a limp and couldn’t speak. Each day, he would find Kari and stick to her like glue. He was in her arms anywhere she walked. He sat in her lap anytime she sat. Even as he wore dirty clothes, he would brush the dirt off hers. Kari’s arms are stronger for carrying him. And her heart is fuller for knowing him.


 
 
Miguel – Another one of the COTN interpreters and Wilson’s younger brother. He longs to be a teacher. We found this out on the day he swooped in as the kid-chaos got out of control. Kari and Colette, another member of our team, were in awe and told him how wonderful he was with the kids. That’s when he shared his dream of being a teacher. He also shared that he had been accepted into the COTN university program and was praying for a sponsor.
 
I could hear God speak a truth He had spoken to me many years earlier:
“I am not calling you to do everything. I am calling you to do the next right thing.”
 
It wasn’t guilt that motivated us to sponsor Miguel. Simply put: It was our “next right thing.”


Keith and his wife Kari (right) with the young man they decided to sponsor, Miguel, and another family from their trip. 
 
I am going to venture to say what I believe we all feel: We can’t do enough. We are overwhelmed by the need. We can’t change a country. We can’t solve poverty. We can’t do it all.
 
And it’s true. We can’t do it all. But we can – and must – do the next right thing
 
We can help one child eat. We can help one family with a dry roof or a cement floor. We can help one student realize his dream of becoming a teacher. We can help one community drink clean water.
 
God isn’t calling you to do everything. He’s calling you to do the next right thing. 
 
What is your next right thing?

If God is calling you to do something, consider making a donation to COTN before Spetember 21. Thanks to generous partners who have agreed to match your donation, your gift will double to help twice as many children receive care beyond what we can afford to provide through child sponsorship. Things like extra food or medications for children who have extra, unanticipated needs.

Keith Ferrin is a Christian writer and speaker. He blogs at keithferrin.com