This guest post is brought to you by Charissa Grace, a college student from Missouri, who recently went on a VisionTrust team to the Dominican Republic.
This trip was definitely a humbling experience.
Earlier this summer, I met up with 23 other college students from all over the U.S. in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The first night we met as complete strangers. By the end of the evening, we bonded as brothers and sisters in Christ. We shared our testimonies with each other to get to know each other in a Christ-centered way, and this bonding set off the rest of the week: staying in a small house together, eating together, and above all, serving together.
The first few days were spent in an orphanage in Remar (a ministry that is dedicated to housing children with AIDS/HIV and orphans). Here, we invested our time and energy building relationships with the children, playing with them, VBS, and simply loving them. Being in a Spanish-speaking country language was a barrier; however, fortunately, Christ’s love is understood no matter what country we are in and it was a huge blessing to be able to give and receive that love with these children. “Learn to do right. Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).
Throughout the week we met with college students in the DR and had fellowship with them. One of the most memorable experiences during the trip was when we sang and worshiped together. Every time this took place, I felt the Holy Spirit fill the room—we sang in our own languages and worshiped the same God. It was incredible. “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).
Our last few days in the DR, we went on a prayer walk in a city called Boca Chica. This city is known for their beautiful beaches and high rate of prostitution. I saw women on the streets—broken. I heard men calling out to the girls in our group as we walked by them– unsatisfied. And during that walk, we prayed. We prayed for all the women and girls in the DR and [all over the world] who are in sex-trafficking and prostitution; that they would find safety and experience God’s grace. I prayed that the men would encounter God and learn to be godly men and spiritual leaders in their community. The last day was spent in Ketty’s House—a house full of rescued girls from prostitution and sex-trafficking and babies that were the result of those situations. We spent the day building relationships with these girls and having fellowship with them.
The people I encountered and spent time with in the DR did not need a bunch of Americans to share Jesus with them. They already had the gospel and understood it greatly. I became a learner in this country. I learned what it truly means to cling on to God, because the people that showed me have nothing else to hold on to. I learned what it truly means to be thankful for everything I have, because the people that showed me had not much of anything. I learned what it truly means to grasp the kingdom of God, because the people that showed me were rich in it.
The trip was only a week long; however, it was very blessed. I experienced glimpses of God’s kingdom throughout it all. Through this trip, I experienced what it means to literally care for the orphaned and acknowledge that Jesus is Lord despite language and culture. I left, not on a spiritual high, but a strong desire to continue this week for the rest of my summer and life. But how? Before I went on this trip, I was in a place of uncertainty of what to get my degree in. I already know that my life will be spent serving the Lord, but I did not know which ministry that would be in. I learned about the education system in the DR and learned about the corruption in it. Graduating high school in a third world country is equivalent to graduating college here in the States, maybe even getting a masters. If poverty is “hardworking people with lack of opportunity and reward,” and “education is emancipation,” I want to be a part of making emancipation happen. The Lord has placed on my heart to become a teacher (elementary education and certified to teach high school English). I have never felt such a clear sense of direction and a strong passion to make a difference and expand God’s kingdom. I plan on getting my masters in education, and eventually teach in third-world countries. Meanwhile, I will look for opportunities to teach in the Philippines in my future summers (using my family as my connections there) and practice in low-income schools here in the States. This summer, I have learned what it means to serve. God is moving– we just need to figure out how to be a part of that movement.
God is good.