While we stayed in a small apartment in Bayahibe, that quiet little fishing village became not so quiet. In “Our Night of Broken Glass,” I tell how armed men broke our window and entered our home. Not long after that, they and the police had a fire-fight out front. Supernaturally, Jesus kept us safe throughout. Yes, we were frightened, but completely unharmed. We didn’t know that the best was yet to come.
My husband and our four kids and I were in the Dominican Republic (DR) to visit two of our Compassion sponsored children. After the break in Compassion sent us two wonderful Compassion staff from Santo Domingo. In addition, we were joined by two pastors, Isidro and Junior, from a church that hosts a Compassion Center in La Romana, twenty-five minutes west of us. What love! They told us they wanted to make the rest of our visit a positive experience, so that our children could leave the country with happy memories. Pastor Isidro invited us to be guests at their missionary house for our last two nights. They assured us we would be safe. All night they have two men keeping watch, and they would not let us go anywhere alone.
Minutes after we arrived at the missionary house, fifteen year old, Endry, beckoned to Avian (8) to play the immensely popular dominoes. Even with his minimal Spanish, Avian quickly bonded to this Dominican boy, who has been abandoned by his parents. Eventually, my other kids joined them in playing. In the twilight they had a pick-up “baseball game” with an old soccer ball for the “baseball” and just a stick for a bat.
At one point in the day, Endry was sent to accompany me when I walked from the missionary house to the church building. I learned that he had been kicked out of school in fourth grade because of his fighting. Endry said that he was not a Christian then and that Pastor Isidro has done so much to help him. The church in La Romana has tried unsuccessfully to get him re-admitted to school and is still pursuing other options for his education. Endry was at the missionary house pretty much all the time, helping the cook and reading the Bible with her, escorting people around, running errands, and, of course, playing dominoes. He is embraced by Isidro and his church.
It didn’t take long for me to see Jesus powerfully in Pastor Isidro. He is a humble servant of the Lord, active in ministry as a lay man for decades. For most of his life, he was a well-paid manager for an American company, which explains why he has such excellent English. Eight years ago, he experienced God’s call to leave it all to become a full-time pastor, resulting in pay just one-tenth of his former salary.
The first day he went to his wife in discouragement, saying, “I just don’t think I can do this. We won’t be able to pay our bills, the electricity, the phone…” His wife, Lucy, said, “It doesn’t matter if we have no electricity, or we have to eat dirt—let’s obey Jesus.” And so they did. Wow. If you could only see what God has done in those eight years and the lives changed. Their church hosts a Compassion Center for several hundred children. It’s transforming that community. Stay tuned…there’s more!