“Hola, tenemos un estudio bíblico de la Iglesia de Cristo en el Coliseo Pedro Julio Nolasco.”
The brethren from La Romana, Dominican Republic and the brethren from Florida spent some time together on Saturday, September 21 to practice saying those exact words as they prepared to invite the neighboring community. At first glance, this group of people seemed like a random group of individuals separated by geography and language; a closer look, however, would convey a warmth that could only be found within people who shared a common confidence in what they believe in – their faith as members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo.
“I have always valued it greatly. We feel as something very special when you visit us. Truly. When the Lord speaks of the nations I say look how we are here, Filipinos, Americans, Haitians, Mexicans, Dominicans worshipping the Lord something very special, very nice,” Sister Daisy Santana, Resident of La Romana, Dominican Republic, enthused.
As they prepared and practiced, smiles of appreciation were exchanged, and though only a few words were spoken, every syllable was lined with love so that the words “Hola” and “Gracias” meant more than mere “Hello” and “Thank you”. It meant, “I care about you” and for some it meant, “I love you.” Language barrier would not be enough to keep the brethren from sharing their faith. In fact this proved to have propelled them to try even harder.
But that wasn’t the only thing this small group of brethren had joined forces to accomplish. As part of "Kabayan Ko, Kapatid Ko" "Mi Paisano, Mi Hermano" a project launched by the Church Administration to encourage brethren to share their faith with their countrymen, the brethren of La Romana led the way in the outreach to the community--preparing bags filled with basic needs such as rice, oil, corn flour, sugar and seasoning.
Led by Bro. Paulin Jolly, a member of the Church who moved to the Dominican Republic to help share his faith with his countrymen and Bro. Camy Augustin, a member originally from Haiti, the brethren of La Romana exuded an infectious energy filled with generosity and gratitude because even though they are part of the La Romana community who also needed the help that the Iglesia Ni Cristo was providing, they were the very ones who had a giving heart. All in all, over 1,000 bags were prepared.
As the time got closer for each evangelical mission, guests began to file into the Coliseo Pedro Julio Nolasco. Guests of all ages came, some by themselves, others with their entire family. As a country of religious people, many walked in with their own Bibles to follow along in the lesson.
For both nights, Bro. Dominador Santos, District Minister of South Eastern Seaboard preached the lesson in English while Bro. Froilan Enriquez, assigned visiting minister for La Romana GWS (Group Worship Service) translated it to Spanish. In the preaching of the Gospel, emphasis was given on man's need to prepare for Judgment Day. After hearing the lesson taught during the study of the words of God, visitor Julio Noel stated,
“Bueno porque estamos viviendo días muy peligrosos. Y tú sabes que antes no lo había pero ahora sí, Y tenemos que buscar Jesucristo para ser salvo."
English Translation: "Well, because we are living in very dangerous times. And you know it wasn’t like that before but now it is. And we have to find Jesus Christ to be saved."
The lesson also emphasized the mission of the Iglesia Ni Cristo to share the faith to fulfill the command of God to preach the truth in every part of the world, something that surprise the visitors who didn’t expect foreigners to be the ones reaching out to them.
“Todas las palabras de Dios, todo es bueno pero a mí me gustó mucho porque a mi nunca pensé que un Americano (extranjeros) habla a través de como habla hoy,” Masia Bista dijo después del evento.
English Translation: “All the words of God, they are all good, but for me I liked it a lot because I never thought an American(foreigners) would come and talk like this today,” Masia Bista stated after the event.
“Bueno me siento bastante bien y me siento muy orgullosa de estar junto de ustedes porque ustedes son personas de mucho amor, y no lo conocía pero ya lo conozco. Estoy viendo como Dios está usando a ustedes con la palabra. Fue muy nutritiva esta palabra. Lo que ese hombre dijo que “amarás a tu prójimo como a ti mismo” y nosotros vemos la evidencia de amar a nuestro prójimo,” exclamó Chara, quien asistió a las dos noches de la misión evangélica.
English Translation: Well, I feel very well and I feel very proud to be with you because you are people of much love. I didn’t know it, but now I know it in you. I see how God is using you with the word. It was nourishing, this word. What that man said that you will love your neighbor like your own self and we see the evidence of loving our neighbor,” exclaimed Chara, who attended both nights of the evangelical mission.
“Ojala siga pasando mas realmente en todo el país y el mundo,” dijo Benicio Vondelorio.
English Translation: “Hopefully it keeps happening all over the country and the world,” said Benicio Vondelorio.
The night ended with the outreach. The brethren from Florida, along with the brethren and Bible students from La Romana, took on the task of handing out the bags to the over 600 attendees.
In total, over 1,100 Dominicans came to listen to God’s words that weekend -- over 500 on Saturday and over 600 on Sunday night. To date, it was the biggest evangelical mission ever held by the Iglesia Ni Cristo in this part of the world.
The words of God took center stage that weekend. It bound the brethren from Florida and the Dominican Republic to one purpose; it extended God’s blessings to each recipient of the outreach and opened up the hearts of the people of La Romana who sought more than just the sustenance of their daily lives but the truth that could feed their soul.
“Preaching the word of God and giving of what we have to our fellowmen because we must not deny to do good to those in need. As members of the Church of Christ it is important to give more and more and more without exception,“ said Brother Camy Augustin, one of the local brethren helping coordinate the events in the Dominican Republic.
Contributing Writers: Jade Esquito, Joel Eusebio, Ivan Tumbaga, Janlynn Valerio, Renezen Benedicto
Translations by: Bro Solomon Joves, Sis Ana Triognes and Bro Aj Agag