“She’s gone Vicki,” our ministry base cook could barely look me in the eyes, “you know, the young mother with cancer.” She lowered her head even more, “My niece.” Her voice cracked a little, “She didn’t make it.”
“I’m so sorry,” I hugged her briefly. She isn’t a big hugger. She’s still learning to trust me in that way. “Are her children okay?” I asked as I compelled her to hold my hand and lowered my gaze to reach her eyes.
“Yes, their father came for them. They are fine.” She quickly let go of my grip and turned the other way.
“Please let me know if we can do anything for them.” My heart goes out to those boys!
Our family has been hit hard over and over again since 2012. These hard hits have caused us to make some risky changes.
Family illnesses and deaths, young adult children in transition, personal burnout, meeting the current needs of our tween and teen and keeping our marriage intact through it all has been a challenge. With these challenges on the forefront, we’ve continually been faced with the needs of our ministry. In response to God’s call for us to serve in the Dominican Republic, we left behind all of what we knew to be familiar. We eagerly gave it all up because His call was and still is much greater to us than our own comfort and desires.
In the midst of the difficulties we’ve faced on the field and the needs we encountered abroad, we’ve remained faithful to that call. Quitting has not been an option for us. Hardships may sometimes seem to prevail, but we are convinced that God is with us through it all. We have chosen to view our trials through God’s word in the book of James chapter one, “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you…” We wanted His wisdom in relation to our circumstances, thus sought Him for an answer.
We then submitted our realities to mature Christians that we trust. We strategized and planned to the best of our abilities and came up with a solution.
In response to the needs that seemed so consuming, we helped our teen and tween fit into a community of believers where they could grow. That was important to them, thus important to us.
Our adult children are each moving along wonderfully, but also made us realize that their need for our presence is real. Extended family is important to us as well. Time spent with them is essential, especially because of the emotional, spiritual and financial support they’ve allowed us over the years. This lifetime is really our only chance to love those in our midst.
Our marriage also needed to be refreshed. The toil of building a ministry without many resources took its toll on us both. We had both burned out and that state felt like death! Marriage had become a business partnership which left little room for romance. Help was of the essence.
Traveling back and forth is a bit daunting. I’d much rather call one place home and not wake up in the morning trying to remember if I’m in Virginia or in the Dominican Republic! The reality is that we are making the best choice for our current situation.
God allowed us to prepare our leaders in the Dominican Republic for their assignments long before we ever thought we would have to leave them so often. Our ministry continues to grow strong as we fulfill the needs of our family and ministry.
The risk of losing all of what we’ve worked so hard for has loomed over us as we face challenges in our home. Please don’t think that we need your support less because we are in the Dominican Republic less!
- We still have to feed over 150 people (mostly children) daily.
- We still have to pay our staff’s salaries each month, take care of their medical expenses and pay them double each December.
- We still have to pay monthly rent for four of our locations.
- We still have lots of maintenance on HOPE Mountain.
- We still have to provide resources and supplies for our leaders.
During this season, our time in the Dominican Republic has dropped from 100% to 75%. Our airfare is specifically donated for that purpose. While we are in the states, we spend our time connecting with churches, Christian schools, ministries and small businesses for partnerships. We meet with our Dominican leaders via teleconferencing on a daily basis and we even preach online for our Dominican churches. We also engage with our children and extended family members to the best of our ability. We spend time enriching our marriage and our own spiritual walks in order to manage the ministry better.
The fruit of our time spent stateside is displayed throughout the new life we are experiencing in our ministry.
- We have made relationships with more churches in the states which has awarded us more teams.
- We hosted an amazing conference for pastors and leaders in the Dominican Republic.
- We have more interns.
- We are poised to plant two more churches of which our current pastors will lead.
- We have been able to help more children each month.
- We have more buildings on HOPE Mountain.
- We have more training and resources easily available for our ministry’s growth.
You see, the salvation of the young lady who recently passed away occurred during one of my trips from Virginia to the Dominican Republic. I remember the day when we talked and prayed for salvation. She was eager to give her life to Christ. She was eager to know Him and always wanted prayer. She consistently asked for prayers for peace in her family. She accepted her life as it was and wanted the rest to accept it as well. A team that ministered here briefly spent some time praying with her one day. She said that she felt God’s presence like never before. I’ll see her again.
She is only one example of the many who have committed their lives to Christ through one of H.O.P.E Dominican Republic’s ministries. We can’t quit.
Children count on us daily…we can’t stop.
Our churches depend upon our leadership…we must continue.
The countless short term missionaries that come through HOPE Mountain need our guidance…we must move on.
Our cook is still learning to trust me. That trust will convince her of the true love of our Father. We are committed to walk with her until she accepts His gift of life and we will hold her up as she walks out her newfound faith.
We are convinced that this current difficulty will only last for a season. Please stand with us during this complex time. We need you!