Our church has been heavily invested in missional activity of various types in the Dominican Republic for several years. We have created a unique English program for would-be-teachers to train so one day they can open their own academy and use it as an outlet for evangelism. Becoming proficient in English is a very expensive endeavor on the island and, in the proverbial Catch-22 way, it is also a must to get a good job. We will install our second clean water system in the fall, and our youth ministry recently completed its fourth Spring Break mission trip where they assisted several churches in various ways. Later this week a group from JCBC will work on our first school build project.
The Dominican Republic has one of the worst school systems in the entire world. The DW Akademie reports: “The D.R. has one of the world’s worst education systems. Test scores are as bad in the private schools as in the public schools and urban areas score as low as rural ones.” A truly astonishing statistic relates to the average teacher-pupil ratio across the island nation. The Dominican Government admits to an island-wide teacher-pupil ratio of 78:1. Even Haiti has a better overall education program for children than their island-mates in the Dominican. When you’re looking up to Haiti it can’t be good. At least the government is facing up to this harsh reality that has numerous future implications. The newest goal is for an additional 28,000 new classrooms to be open by 2016. After nineteen trips to the D.R. I have a decent understanding of what is commonly referred to as “island time.” Dominicans have an equation they employ when stating time of day or time in a linear sense: give or take two is how it goes. I’m guessing 2016 will become 2018 and it could easily become two decades and mission accomplished would be 2036. Either way the children lose.
To meet this problem faith-based groups are stepping up to create schools and equip classrooms in the most-needy places on the island. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is teaming with the Good Samaritan Hospital of La Romana and churches like ours to build schools. Our team will be working on the latest school build in that area later in the week. We are a pilot-program for a new “long weekend” work team approach. We will fly in on Thursday, work Friday-Sunday, and fly home Monday. We will put in approximately thirty hours constructing a block school building. Someday children in this barrio-slum area will have a school building of their own. JCBC will have had a part in it, all of us mind you as whatever a mission team does we all do. Your prayers and financial stewardship make these trips possible. Keep giving and keep praying, and while you’re praying, pray specifically for Don Walters, Tom Hill, Ernie Floyd, Bill Weeks, Lynn Carlson, and my son Jake, as they work with me in La Romana over the long weekend.
Johns Creek Baptist Church