In the book of Matthew, Jesus called some of his apostles by saying, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”—So last year we asked if anyone wanted to go on a fishing trip to the Dominican Republic. 13 people answered that call—and not only the 13—but the whole Grace congregation and many others from the community joined the team through their prayers, time, and donations of clothing, toys, and money. Every year for the past eleven, God has orchestrated these trips and we are so grateful to have so many that have answered the call and given their resources.
It’s impossible to describe this trip in 5-10 minutes, but I hope that some of the pictures will give you a better feel of what we do.
Click on the button below for a 6 minute slideshow of this year's trip.
You can never totally prepare for a trip like this, because you are entering a different culture—so we try to follow God’s promptings. We ask Him to show us what He wants us to do.
Sometimes it seems like we are not making a difference, but sometimes God encourages us by showing that we are.
Let me give you an example. The girls had been entertaining kids all week with bible crafts and stories, games, and bible based movies. Jessie said she was having fun, but questioned whether we were really making a difference. Heather, Sherry, and I were on the porch talking about that later in the day and all agreed that we would rather see one person come to know Jesus than to build any amount of homes. It wasn’t 10 minutes later that Kristen and the girls came back from visiting Leomary and her family (they are one of the families we built a home for last year). When we first met Leomary two years ago, she had three kids and was pregnant. Her husband was a lineman and had recently died--he was electrocuted, which left her homeless and unable to pay the bills. Her only option was to move into an already small, crowed house with her mother and other members of her family. Before the girls left, Leomary gave them a letter. When they arrived at Gustavo's, Kristen asked if someone could translate it. Here is Barbara's translation:
You all have been the gentlest people in my life, which is why I adore you. Through you I now believe in God. That is why I have you present in my thoughts like I have God. I desire the best that any human being could desire for you all. Gustavo and Bienvenida I adore you too.
May God Bless you very much,
Leomary and family
Building Homes and Relationships
Each year we have the privilege of providing a home for at least two families. We can't really say we build the home anymore because by the time we get to the Dominican Republic the foundations are in, the framing is done, the floor finished, and the roof installed by the families and other volunteers that live in the community. Of course, that is fine with us. It gives us more time to build relationships with both children and adults through the use of bible crafts, bible based movies, games, and just hanging out with the Dominican people. We are thankful for all the special people that help us throughout the year with contributions of clothing, toys, and money for food and building materials. You can imagine the hapiness and joy that is felt by the families that typically are living in a 100 square foot shack with a dirt floor when the move into their new homes. If you would like more information about being a trip participant, or if you would like to lead a group to build a home in this area, please email Rick Raymond at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Plain conversation / Plane conversation
Jerry and I were sitting across the aisle from each other before take-off discussing the book I had shared with him earlier in the week. he had been reading it. We were saying that it was very wise and providential of God to bring the Greek language to the greater part of what we call the middle east now through the conquest of the area by Alexander the Great. This Greek influence began and continued through the 300 years prior to the coming of Christ. This allowed a common language for the Gospel to spread rapidly through the area because of the extensive use of Greek for spreading the news of Christ death and resurrection both in writing and speech. The New Testament was written primarily in common Greek.
A man nearby entered the conversation and had some knowledge of what we were saying. He asked of our business in the Dominican. I told of our effort to provide better housing and to share the Good News with the children through various methods. He replied to me that if we really wanted to help them we would teach them to read. I responded with the fact that the kids do go to school through 10th grade. He said the education was inadequate and continued with the pervasive notion around the world, including our country that if only we could all be better educated humanity's trouble would be gone. He accused us of only "proselytizing the people" My response was most fundamental; I asked him simply: "What is better, to know how to read or to be right with God."
The conversation ended. At the conclusion of the flight the gentlemen, perhaps after some time to consider what was said earlier, was very cordial and thanked me and the group for what we had done to help the poor. Unfortunately this man is like much of the world who think that if we only could have better government or a better economy or more technology we would all be much better off. In the world’s eyes, Jesus is only a part of the solution, and a small part at that.
Jesus said, "What profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?"
Hopefully, the man has some influence and God will use this short conversation to impact his world for the Lord. We can only hope.
Thank you for the message and the opportunity to go on the mission trip. Bella and I had a great experience and felt as though we were part of something great; an opportunity to affect lives for God's kingdom. I know a lot of planning and prayer goes into each year of this trip and we want you to know that we appreciate all the effort you put forth to make this happen. I appreciate it even more knowing that the Motley Mission Crew really is doing it for God's glory. I don't really have any more suggestions than we talked about before other than the keeping a regular devotion time. The entire mission crew was a great group of people with a single purpose which I found refreshing. It was an honor to be part of the group.
This verse reminded me of the conversation we had about "plowing" for God's kingdom! Galatians 6:9 "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."
Late Letters from Gustavo
Gustavo and Bien are terrific hosts in the Dominican Republic. Each year the newbies are amazed with their hospitality, planning, cooking, and their 100% commitment to the Mission Team and community of Los Mameyos. It increases our joy even more to know that the work there continues even after we return to our homes. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Gustavo and Bien are the mortar that holds the group together. Talk about answering God's call--they packed their belongings, sold their home in Michigan, and coverted a home in the DR to house short term mission trips. They are the Doctor, Nurse, Pharmacy, Church Leader, Bible Study Leader, and a Unifier of all Followers of Christ. They begin prep work 6-8 weeks before we even arrive. Without their hard work, planning, and dedication it would not be possible to complete these trips. Here are a couple of the emails that we received from Gustavo upon our return:
To Motley Mission Crew, Grace Community,
We hope you arrived well. We hope that the flame of the Love of Christ be never put out on us his servants and more especially on the team and leadership of the motley mission crew and Grace community church. When I arrived home at 2:30 pm Bienvenida, Maritza, and Cathy where preparing packages of food to be delivered to people they had identified as super needy. We waited until it was getting dark to start so we did not call the attention of people where we went. The first house we arrived to was Gisela , she had a stroke 5 years ago , she lives with her son who is currently unemployed. She got emotional because she told us that she and her son had just finished talking about the great need he has of a job so they can at least have meals secured. She assured him that God was listening to all the prayer and that on his time he was going to respond and ,,,we arrived. Then , 3 visits later we got to a home with three children , no husband and she had surgery 4 days before and even though they were having dinner about 8 pm there was nothing , Zero ... for next day and we arrived and neither of them could believe that God responded so fast.
There are no words to describe how grateful we are of the things that you all do for our people. How can we get tired of doing good ? Never!...that day we arrived home at 9:30pm . We, and particularly Bienvenida were extremely tired, but we were home, you were still on the way home for several more hours.
Our appreciation and love to all, especially to the concept called Grace Community Church. One day God will recognize GCC as the people where the gospel was taught and lived and will say :¨¨come ye faithful servants¨¨.
Ditto to Living Word Church of which Kristen is a member.
Hello Rick and Sherry & The Motley Mission Crew ,
I wanted to let you know that I found a Pentecostal church where the majority of members could not afford to buy a bible so guess what? Now everyone has a bible and they are very happy, the pastor could not believe it. The day we presented the bibles a group from our church went and I preached and others shared some music .. Two weeks ago a group of 10 from their church came to visit us on a Wednesday. It was a very good experience for both groups. ..So thank you for the BIBLES.
God uses Christians to spread the word that HIS plan of salvation is available to all. HE weaves our lives together and then sends us out to work with HIM to accomplish those goals. HE allows us the privilege to work with HIM and we should not under estimate what we can accomplish when God is behind the plan. Remember, if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can move mountains--so pray daily for opportunities to share your faith. Believe that all your friends, family, and people that you don't even know--who don't yet have Christ in their lives are pre-Christians. Pray daily for them and expect incredible answers. You have the assurance that God is behind you on this because HE does not want anyone to perish--but everyone to come to repentance. With the world in such a mess, why do you think HE has been so patient with us? It's simple--HE doesn't want ANYONE to perish and that, my friends, is why we have to take this seriously.
To paraphrase a devotion that I recently read by Charles Stanley, 'If you're shaking your head and thinking, Mission work isn't where my heart is, I have news for you: Every believer is called to missions as either a goer or a sender. That call comes in dramatic ways for some, but for most of us, it is simply a biblical principle to be followed in Matthew called the Great Commission.'
So the next time God comes knocking, I hope you'll again answer. And if HE is not calling you to go--then be a sender. Offer your prayers, your money, and anything else that will help to put others in the mission field. Don't say I can't--say I will. Trust that God will equip you for the work HE has chosen you to do.
I’d like again to thank everyone here for being a part of the team and ask that you continue to do the work that God has called you to do. Remember the day that you came to Christ as inspiration to share the message of salvation to others....do your work, sow the seed, and leave the rest to God.
Excerpts from "How to Talk about Jesus Without Freaking Out" and Charles Stanley February Devotional.