I’m sharing my journal from a recent short-term mission trip to Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic. The second day was the most mind-altering and life-changing for me. (Read more from Day 1 here.)
Today we went to a village known as “The Dump.” An appropriate name since villagers construct their homes from what they find in the mounds of trash surrounding their village. The road is bumpy making the entrance a bit treacherous. The people looked at us with a mix of suspicion and curiosity. Who are you and why would you want to come here? It’s a question we love to answer because it brings Jesus in the middle of our conversation.
When you enter a village constructed from waste, you expect a heaviness to rest across the shoulders of the people. Those who entered our clinic weren’t embarrassed by their appearance or their lifestyle. They walked in with their pain and infection looking for a remedy. Isn’t that how Christ invites us to himself? He doesn’t judge us for our humanity; he invites us to come with our heavy burdens and broken hearts so he can provide the remedy.
Jesus invites us to come with our heavy burdens & broken hearts so he can provide the remedy.Click To Tweet
Some of the things we saw there were like nothing we would ever see in the States. An orthopedic surgery requiring two stages only half done because the young man didn’t have the money for the final surgery. The metal bars that put his leg back together were still anchored firmly in place, over two years after they should have been removed. The thing which healed him now served as a portal for infection. He didn’t complain; he only asked for anything we might do to help him. What we had to offer wasn’t enough, but he accepted it graciously.
After learning one of our clients didn’t need occupational therapy, we asked him if he knew where he would go when he died. He bowed his head and began to cry as he shook his head “no.” He was open to receiving the good news from us. He prayed to receive Christ, and we all rejoiced! We saw Isaiah 61:3 come to life: “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (NIV). From the heaps of refuse, glory rose.
The Most Important Conversation of My Experience
I had a pivotal conversation with one of the translators (who is also a church planter) on the bus ride home. We compared the direct style of evangelism he uses with the more relationship-driven methods American Christians rely on. I live a good life and hope unbelievers notice and ask me why. In the DR, we ask our patients about their relationship with Jesus at the end of each treatment session. We ask if they have the assurance of an eternity in heaven. The follow-up conversation involves acknowledging we are all sinners, a fact that separates us from a holy God. Once their need for a Savior is established, we can intrude them to our friend, Jesus.
Why is this type of conversation so hard in the US? Is it because we are afraid of what others might think of us? Or could it be that we don’t want to offend anyone by calling them a sinner? In a society where morality is relative, we avoid the appearance of judgment at all cost—even at the cost of someone’s salvation. In order to avoid offense, we withhold the greatest news we could ever share.
My translator friend challenged me to love people enough to risk offending them. If I truly believe that Jesus is the only way to know true peace, to experience hope, and to enter into a right relationship with a holy God, why wouldn’t I tell everyone I know?
In the quiet moments since that conversation, I realize how content I am to gather like-minded people around me. “Gather ’round girls, and let’s walk with Jesus together.” I don’t take the time to ask those walking the other way to join me. I don’t introduce them to Jesus and invite them to join me on the journey. This both shames me and motivates me. I don’t want to be content to simply disciple those who already love Jesus; I want to find ways to introduce others to Jesus.