The Joy of Sharing
The Reverend Augusto Sandino Sánchez
Vicar, Iglesia Episcopal Monte de Sión
December 28, 2018

[Editor’s note: this is the English translation of an article written originally in Spanish for publication in the December 2018 issue of Compañeros Dominicanos, the DDG’s bilingual quarterly magazine. For the original Spanish, click here. For the December 2018 issue of Compañeros Dominicanos, click here.]

“I am not trying to relieve others by putting a burden on you; but since you have plenty at this time, it is only fair that you should help those who are in need. Then, when you are in need and they have plenty, they will help you. In this way, both are treated equally. As the scripture says, ‘The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.’” 2 Corinthians 8:13-15

In the year 2000, Dr. Robert W. Stevens used this Bible verse to share his interpretation for what happened in Puerto Plata, after a group of 25 people belonging to the churches of St. John, St. Marks and St. Andrews, in Tampa, Florida had worked in the painting and restoration of the electric system to the temple of Cristo Rey Episcopal Church in that city in the Dominican Republic. Dr. Stevens understood that our brothers and sisters coming from those churches had, in that moment, the financial resources that we lacked to restore the temple that was in a very bad physical shape. But that we had plenty of faith and hope that, when shared with our visitors, we could create a good influ­ence in them to rekindle their love for the mission that Christ has given us all. That is to say, that they were giving us material help, while we gave them spiritual help.

The following year, members from 7 churches from the Tampa Deanery (Diocese of Southwest Florida), created 5 work teams that came to Monte Llano, Puerto Plata, to build the first building for Niño Jesus Episcopal School, erecting it within 3 months. The following year, 13 churches from the same Deanery created 5 work teams to build Divina Gracia church in Mozoví, Puerto Plata.

The year after that the work teams from that Deanery were sent to Santana, Baní, to start building San Matías School. Around the same time, other dioceses and Episcopal churches started sending medical and construction teams to other parts of our Diocese. That is how the Dominican Development Group expanded its programs.

20 years later, we can see the great work done by many dioceses and companion churches from The Episcopal Church in The United States, bringing support to the missionary work of The Episcopal Diocese of The Dominican Republic.

There are thousands of people who have left the comfort of their homes, and dedicated their vacation savings, to come to our country and show their love of God by helping their neighbor even without knowing them beforehand. These people have had to pay for their airfare, contributed to pay for their lodgings and food and even then, providing financial help to buy the materials, medicine, and supplies to do the mission they set out to do all this in order to be part of a construction or instructional team helping in weeklong vacation bible schools or medical journeys.

Instead of using all these personal financial resources to travel to a tourist destination to vacation and enjoy their right to rest and have fun, they would rather use their time, their treasure, talents and gifts to do heavy and difficult work in the heat and without much protection.

The spiritual joy and the happiness they show in the way they treat the people from the congregations, and people from the communities surrounding it even when they do not attend our churches, clearly shows how much they love God in how they display their love to their neighbor with open-heartedness and devotion for the needs of those who come looking for what God has sent through them.

God never stops surprising us. He starts all his deeds with things that might seem small, that in our eyes look like mustard seeds. But, as time goes by, we see how those develop until they become a big tree that provides good fruit for believers and non-believers alike. That is also how the Dominican Development Group started, and through this organization, our Diocese has been able to take big steps towards the development of the Mission that God has commended to us through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Another recent example is the story of Monte de Sión, in La Altagracia neighborhood, Andres, Boca Chica. It all started with the inspiration God awoke in the Rev. Felix Encarnación, who was the vicar of the churches San José, Santo Tomas and Divina Providencia (Boca Chica, Villa Gautier and Guerra, respectively). He and a group of members from the congregation in San José celebrated worship services in different houses from the neighborhood. This continued with the arrival of Rev. Margarita Santana. Then there was a period of time where the process stalled. In 2011, it continued with the new vicar and other lay leaders of these congregations. Until, in 2013, the Pastoral Lay Leader, today Ven. F. Luis Garcia, accomplished the task of creating a core group of believers from the sector called Libertad in the aforementioned neighborhood.

In September 2014 Bishop Julio Cesar Holguín paid a Pastoral visit to this church, celebrating Holy Eucharist under a mango tree and confirmed 14 people as members of it. When September 2015 came, the Pastoral visit of the Bishop was celebrated in a portion of the land that had been purchased thanks to the generosity of Old St. Andrews Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Thanks to the financial aid of the Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota, Florida and contributions from Old St. Andrews, on Saturday, November 10, 2018, our Diocesan Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Moisés Quezada Mota, consecrated and dedicated the temple of this Episcopal Church Monte de Sión.

As requested by our Bishop Moisés Quezada, the Church of the Redeemer has offered to continue contributing financial and missionary help to develop an educational institution for the care of boys and girls, and also the construction of other facilities for the missionary work of service to the community of this place.

For our brother and sisters who through the years have participated with their presence in our country and in an anonymous way from their congregations (helping with prayers, funds, work and counseling) I say: May God bless you and always take care of you; May God look upon you with affection and show you his grace; May God look upon you with affection and fill you with peace.

Glory to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; now and forever. Amen.