The Gift of Prayer
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:4-7
My first trip to the Dominican Republic was in March of 2013. My heart was impacted the most in the town of Jarabacoa. Not only did the incredible mountains, rivers and waterfalls capture my attention, but specifically the heart of a long-term Columbian missionary named Luis Castro. Our team partnered with him for a few days, sharing laughs, love, and Jesus with the children in his ministry.
Pastor Luis’ church met in an open, mountainous area. It didn’t have walls, or set chairs, or a sound system, but it had enough room for the body of Christ to come together for corporate worship—and that was all they needed. Behind the area where they met was a huge empty field, surrounded by the majestic mountains of the Dominican Republic. Pastor Luis used this field to bring the children together to play soccer in the afternoons. I fell in love with the heart, the vision, but mostly, the simplicity of it all – their complete adoration and dedication to our Jesus.
Jarabacoa held a special place in my heart, and nothing excited me more than returning back to the same place of worship this year.
Friday morning, Pastor Luis greeted our team at the hotel. He recognized a few familiar faces. I was happy to see him again and hear how incredible his ministry was doing. He smiled and shared about how the Lord was moving in his church.
He invited us to take a tour of the town and was eager to show us the church’s new location. “New location?” I think to myself. “The other area was so simple, so perfect, so beautiful—I can’t imagine how much more the Lord has blessed him since then!” As we took a stroll through the town, I was captivated by the culture, the people, the lifestyle.
Suddenly, we came to a stop in front of an empty plot of land. It was covered in clay and mountains of rock and dirt.
“Here we are,” says Pastor Luis.
“Is he kidding?” I think to myself. Before I could even ask about the old location, Pastor Luis began to explain that the government took it away.
I couldn’t believe it.
He continued to share that although the body doesn’t have a “home”, they haven’t ceased to be the church, the bride of Christ. Each family in the congregation, which is about 60 members, and most of which are very poor and struggle to provide for themselves, has committed to buying a square foot of land every other month.
Their commitment to Jesus humbled me at that very moment.
“What can we do for you, Pastor?” I asked.
“Well, you can pray,” He assured us.
And that we did. In the middle of a hot Dominican day, a team of 14 Americans stood hand-in-hand on a plot of dirt, and humbly asked Jesus for a miracle. It was in that moment that I knew that we were doing exactly what we were supposed to do.
Through my experiences of traveling the world for the purpose of ministry, I’ve learned that all of my service and all my work is great, but nothing moves the heart of God more than a humble surrender and dependency on Him.
Beautiful things happened on that plot of dirt. Thanksgiving and praise was offered up to God. Our requests were made known to Him. And afterwards, we rejoiced. We laughed. We explored. Best of all, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guarded all of our hearts and minds.
Let’s join our brothers and sisters of Jarabacoa in humble dependency on Christ. Let us join them in prayer, asking Him for a miracle.