The Purpose of Mission in the Dominican Republic
By The Rev. George Roberts
Posted June 27, 2015

From left: The Rev. Deacon Miguel Kingsley; the Rev. Bienvenido López, Vicar of Iglesia Episcopal San Simón Apóstol in Puerto Plata; the Rev. George Roberts, Rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Farmington, Connecticut. Photograph from a worship service at San Simón Apóstol on November 16, 2014.

The Rev. George Roberts was a member of the DDG-sponsored exploration team in November, 2014, and visited several locations in the Diocese of the Dominican Republic as a start in the process of planning a mission trip to be sponsored in 2016 by his home church, St. James in Farmington, Connecticut. He wrote the statement below for his congregation and for the guidance of those considering joining that mission team, and has graciously given permission for its publication here. Another one of his reflections on mission work in the Dominican Republic is available in the January 2015 issue of Compañeros Dominicanos.

What is the mission of God? What God wants us to do to build the kingdom of God, to fulfill God’s mission, is not an easy concept for any of us to grasp. We must be willing to open our hearts and minds in prayer, if we hope to get anywhere. But, we see some of God’s mission reflected in the well-worn Matthew 25: 31-40. “When I was hungry, you fed me; when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink….” Read this passage again. What is interesting is what Jesus doesn’t say. He does not say what the results of said actions will be. He does not say the prisoner we visit will be turned around by our concern and prayers. Jesus does not imply that the hungry we feed will be fed for all time. He does not say that the thirsty will not thirst again. Remember, Jesus is the living water and, until we truly come to see Jesus as the quencher of our thirst, it becomes a challenge to move far in life or ministry.

We cannot go into our trip to the Dominican Republic with too many expectations of results or achievements. Latin culture revolves around relationships and we have to remember that building the kingdom of God is about connecting with people where they are and challenging ourselves to see people that are different from us as people, like us, even while different, too. Everyone does not think the way that we do; not everyone is as focused on “being organized” as we are. You will learn, in the Dominican Republic, to turn off some of the task-intensive focus we learn in the United States and see things from a more relational point of view.

We are going to the Dominican Republic for reasons devoted to building the kingdom of God.

To focus on and engage people who are different than we are but who can teach us much about joy, building relationships, and God’s grace and mercy; to be open to God changing us through the missionary experience.

To open our hearts to what any community we may come into contact with express as a need and try, to the best of our ability, to fill that need with support from the Dominican Development Group and others.

To extend the love of Christ that is in us through openness, exchange of ideas, sharing the hope that is in us and being prepared to receive the same.

To impact the communities and families that we are called to serve in ways that are helpful to THEM, as expressed BY them, and to offer a witness to God’s love for them and be receptive to the same from them.

To allow our eyes and hearts to be opened by the poverty and challenge we see and to learn how we can better serve the entire world we live in, including back home in Connecticut.