Mission Trip Recap: One Week in the Dominican Republic

Duncan and Kate Smith, along with members of Catch the Fire Raleigh-Durham, went to the Dominican Republic recently to share God's love and partner with Shine The Light ministries. The team was able to led the two families to Jesus and help build homes.

Here is a look into the one-week missions trip, written by Tabitha Cooke and Betsy Falvey of Catch the Fire Raleigh-Durham.

“It is amazing and beautiful when a group of people comes together with one purpose: to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Eighteen members of Catch the Fire Raleigh joined with Shine the Light Initiative and some of their friends for a weeklong mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Catch the Fire Raleigh and many others worked together to raise funds for building supplies. In just one week we built two houses for two families (with the help of many locals and skilled craftsmen in the Dominican, led and participated in a kids program, a youth program, a weight loss graduation program, a pregnant women’s health program, a women’s program, two church services, multiple cooking programs, door-to-door outreach, physical therapy assessments, and many divine appointments.

The best part of this long list is that we did not plan a lot of these events! In the midst of all of this there was a culture that developed and dictated everything we did. This is Kingdom Culture — full of the love of Jesus and the fire of the Holy Spirit. Boldness came out of each team member as the week progressed and ignited the rest of the team to make the most of every opportunity. The Dominican Republic’s rich culture welcomed and hosted our team with such receptiveness and love. This was partly due to Shine the Light Initiative’s consistent and faithful presence in the Dominican Republic.

Being A Blessing To Others

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Team members shared their testimonies and the miracles that God had done in their lives: emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. During the women’s program, in particular, many of the local women were so touched to know that women from the US could relate to their stories. Barriers were broken down when these women realized that they were not alone in the suffering many of them had faced or were currently facing.

Team members sat down with homeowners Benedict and Jenny to hear their story. After listening, they began to share the gospel with the homeowners and minister the love of Jesus. Benedict and Jenny began to cry and said yes to Jesus! They received further prayer and emotional healing for past trauma they had experienced and additional Bible Studies throughout the week. By the end of our time with them, Benedict and Jenny were glowing with the love of Jesus and with the thrill of having their own home.

Yuly and her son, Ezekiel, the homeowners of the second home we built, wept as they received the keys to their home. Ezekiel walked into his new room for the first time and fell on the ground weeping. He finally had his own room that would not be swept away with the rainwaters. Duncan Smith, President of CTF World, began sharing the gospel with Yuly, and on the day the team dedicated the house to her, she also dedicated her life to Jesus. Her smile shone brighter than ever during these precious moments.

Each person that came on the mission trip came for the purpose of loving the Dominican people and sharing the gospel as we built houses. Our mission was simple and our purpose was the same and the result was salvation for many. We each took risks and stepped past our fears of failure and pleasing man to see God do what he does best- restore and heal. We spurred each other on to minister with boldness. God showed up over and over again. Because that’s what He does. He shows up and invites us to partner with Him in seeing lives transformed.

Blessings of Going On A Mission Trip

In the midst of being the hands and feet of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was also ministering and healing us individually. I believe that one of the often-overlooked blessings of going on a mission trip is the genuine community that is built while on the trip. Getting away from the pressures of everyday life frees us up to listen and share our lives with one another. God created us with a desire to know and be known – I love that there are 17 other people that I now know in a way that I never would have experienced had I not gone on this trip! We created authentic community with each other while we were in the DR and we saw and experienced God do amazing things together.

Our stories are endless and countless lives were changed from just a one-week mission trip.

After returning home from the Dominican Republic I began thinking of the American culture, and the cultural rules we learn as we grow up. When we were in the Dominican Republic the boldness to share the gospel superseded the cultural rules that we honestly did not know well, because we were in a foreign land. Once I was back on familiar US soil, the cultural pressures of when to share the gospel and when it is not appropriate seemed to creep back in. However, I had experienced and seen the transformative power of Kingdom Culture.

How the Mission Trip Changed Me

As I meditated on this, I realized that when I began walking with Jesus I started to learn a new culture, new rules, and a new way of doing life. Filled with The Father’s Love, this culture can become our new reality and not keep us in bondage to the culture we once obeyed- man’s culture. When we step into a foreign land, in which the language is different, and the cultural norms are unfamiliar, it is easy to walk in Kingdom Culture, especially when that is the only purpose for entering the foreign land.

Upon returning to the US, I was stirred up and determined to keep the way of Kingdom Culture. There are a lot more distractions: family, jobs, house, leadership positions, etc. Yet, the truth of the gospel remains and now more than ever, there is a hunger and receptiveness to the gospel. The world is waiting to see and experience a culture that brings life and actually has answers to the questions and brokenness of so many.

“And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.” (Ephesians. 2:17-19)

God is calling his sons and daughters to rise up and remember our citizenship. Our native soil is heaven’s soil!”