Dominican government opens doors for expanded outreach to children
Asking God for the ‘world,’ Children’s Homes leaders surprised when given land for center
May 22, 2013
By BRIAN MIMBS

FBCH photo
LAKELAND (FBCH)—The trustees and leadership of the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes prayed in recent years for opportunities to expand the reach of their ministry to children in the most unlikely of conditions and places.  

The Lord responded by opening doors and presenting ministry opportunities. Recently, those opportunities took an unexpected turn of presidential proportions.

“We’ve been asking God to give us the world for kids,” said FBCH President Jerry Haag. “And what’s unfolding for us in the Dominican Republic is nothing less than a tangible work of our Lord in response.”

In March, Haag and Ron Gunter, vice president of Orphan’s Heart, the international childcare ministry of the Children’s Homes, met with Danilo Medina, president of the Dominican Republic, a small Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.  

President Medina was so impressed with the ministry concept the team presented that he cleared his schedule the following day and personally flew Haag and Gunter to show them a needy area.  

“It’s not every day that the leader of a nation is welcoming you to come launch a new ministry in his country, and then gives you the land on which to build it,” Haag said. Orphan’s Heart has been ministering in the Dominican Republic for three years, largely focused in the city of Santiago working with children living around a city landfill.

UNEXPECTED (L-R) Ron Gunter and Jerry Haag of the FBCH met with president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina Sanchez, and other members of the government, Juan de los Santos, and Jose Nelson Guillen. FBCH photo
“We have long prayed that God would give us a holistic way to provide for children in that country and, boy, has He responded,” said Haag.  “I learned long ago that when you begin praying for rain, you better bring an umbrella.”

During the impromptu trip the next day, Haag and President Medina discussed the correlation between poverty and the crisis among the nation’s family units.  President Medina, in turn, offered Haag and Gunter a potential ministry site in a rural community where single mothers predominate. 

“We saw a vacant, open field and knew God had reserved that piece of land for such a time as this,” said Gunter, recounting the scene. “There was confirmation in our hearts that He was putting something much larger into motion than even President Medina was hoping for.”

And that’s where Orphan’s Heart enters the picture. Haag and Gunter immediately began to discuss possibilities the Lord placed on their hearts with President Medina—using the vacant property for a Christian-based outreach that would include a community center, homes for single mothers, and a new church plant. 

“We want to come alongside these mothers and be an encouragement to them and their children,” said Haag. “Breaking the cycle of poverty is a priority, but Gospel transformation is our passion.”

Back home at the Orphan’s Heart office in Miami, Gunter and the team have begun the strategic planning.  

“We are amazed by the doors the Lord has opened and the impeccable timing He brings when His people embrace the Macedonian call,” said Gunter.  “The word is getting out among our partners and we’ll be sending our first teams in just a matter of weeks.”

Included in the effort will be small homes built with new technology offering greater structural strength to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes. 

A new church plant will be the epicenter of the community as the ministry village points to the presence and provision of Jesus Christ. Volunteers through Orphan’s Heart will also provide a feeding program for hungry children and vocational training for their mothers.

“We need willing volunteers and churches ready to partner with us,” said Julie Boyd, FBCH vice president of Church Relations. “Orphan’s Heart will provide the direction but willing workers will provide the personal ministry and sweat equity. If the Lord touches your heart with this, come join us on mission with Him.”

To help financially or to sign-up for a trip as early as this summer, contact Stephanie in the Orphan’s Heart office at 305- 779-0827, or by email at stephanie.shermeta@fbchomes.org. 

 

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