Moves of the Spirit in the Dominican Republic
Yesterday, by God’s grace, I landed in the Dominican Republic to help lead a 9Marks workshop for pastors and leaders (which now has a Spanish website). As we landed, I craned my neck to catch glimpses of the turquoise waters over the gleaming airplane wing. Large colorful billboards with smiling faces hold out promises from last week’s election. Cars whiz by and bicyclers pedal and cruise in no discernible pattern. Spanish tiled rooftops and sandy colors remind everyone of the Spanish colonial history that bequeathed a language and a culture weathered and refashioned by island climate and terrain.
My high school Spanish is not returning fast enough for me to communicate well, but everyone smiles, nods, and waits with grace as I fumble for words. I order food then wonder what will return. So far so good. Mental note: Practice my Spanish with my daughters more often when I return home.
I’ve not yet been here a day and already I find the place inspiring. I’d love to one day have an extended stay to write a novel. I’ve thought of two short stories I would entitle “He’s a Good Christian Man” and “Why Onions Taste Funny.” I think I’ve found my muse in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic.
But the most impressive thing has been to hear of the Lord’s work in His church here in the DR. I hope to write more about this, but let me start with a wonderful account of God’s rich mercy.
My hosts are the Saladins, a wonderful Christian family. When I was told I would be staying with “the Saladins” while here, I wondered to myself how a Dominican ended up with a name revered throughout the Muslim world, for Saladin was one of the greatest political and military leaders in Arab and Islamic history. He chuckled at my inquiry and jokingly said that I could simply tell everyone he was not a proud man but was indeed descended from royalty.
It was the Saladins who began to tell me of the Lord’s work here in the Dominican Republic. One story I found particularly encouraging. It illustrates how the Lord takes small things offered in faith and multiplies them beyond our imaginations. I hope I can retell it with some faithfulness. I wish I could convey the excitement and joy I experienced as it was told.
A friend of Mrs. Saladin encouraged her to listen to the internet ministry of Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Revive Our Hearts. Skeptical, she began to listen to the program intent on finding the errors and helping her friend avoid bad teaching. But as she listened to episode after episode, she found she wasn’t noting errors but recording treasured truth from God’s word. She became a regular listener.
When Nancy and a number of other women announced the first True Woman conference and movement in 2009, Mrs. Saladin and her friend talked about attending. Soon her friend asked what she thought about inviting the women from their churches to the conference. Mrs. Saladin confessed to being skeptical about whether other women would attend, but cautiously agreed to seek the approval of the elders at her church. The elders agreed and 100 women from the Dominican Republic attended that first True Woman conference! (I remember my wife calling me during the conference and mentioning the 100 women who had traveled from the DR to take part. Now I’m in one of their homes!)
The women came back awakened. They continued to encourage one another. Soon, someone translated Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival into Spanish and both the men and women of their churches completed the study. Personal revivals were happening all over the place. Ministry to women flourished.
About that time, Mrs. Saladin was growing increasingly passionate about translating Revive Our Hearts into Spanish for the DR. But knowing the strength of her desire and not wanting to do things in her own strength, she actually decided to take some time away in the mountains while Nancy and some of her staff visited the island. While in the mountains, quite apart from any of her efforts, she received a call asking if she would like to work on getting the program aired in the DR in Spanish. Of course she jumped at the opportunity. After searching unsuccessfully for someone to do the translations and to be the Spanish voice of Nancy, it finally fell to Mrs. Saladin to take the role. The radio program began with two radio slots a week. Things were going well and Mrs. Saladin began praying and longing for the Lord to take the program throughout the Spanish speaking world.
In time, a missionary who works in radio visited the Saladin’s church. He saw the work going on and learned of the translation of Revive Our Hearts into Spanish. In God’s providence, he was able to get the program on air with an international radio ministry broadcasting throughout much of the Spanish-speaking diaspora. What began as one Christian lady encouraging another Christian lady to listen to a radio program has become by God’s blessing the expansion of God’s word across a significant part of the Spanish-speaking world!
The group continued contacts with Revive Our Hearts staff, who eventually arranged a visit to see what was happening in the DR. A conference was organized with the expectation of a couple hundred attending. The group thought, “Let’s see what happens and go from there.” Roughly 3,000 attended the conference and everyone was blown away at how the Lord was working. Marriages were being restored, lives changed, and the word spreading.
In the wake of the conference’s success, plans to translate the program into a daily format have been stepped up and hopes to reach more stations have grown. What began as one Christian lady encouraging another Christian lady to listen to a radio program has become by God’s blessing the expansion of God’s word across a significant part of the Spanish-speaking world!
I’m praising God for the faithful ministry of Nancy Leigh DeMoss and asking the Lord to bless the many women who listen to her program. And here’s what I’m thinking: I’m going to recommend a radio/internet program and book to someone and pray for the Spirit of the Lord to do something that changes the face of Christian witness and life across the world! Will you join me?