July 16, 2016
Dominican Republic Update
From the Superintendent's DESK
Greetings from La Romana, Dominican Republic.
After arriving late Wednesday night, Tim DeBusk and I spent Thursday conducting business with Alberto Smith, District Superintendent of our ninety Dominican Republic churches. Though Brother Alberto has been hampered by physical immobility the past seven months, his enthusiastic spirit was encouraging, the same as always. During our time together we also learned more accurately of the tragic vehicle accident that has claimed the lives of eighteen of our saints, and has left five still hospitalized. A truck driver, allegedly intoxicated, crossed the center line hitting a small flatbed truck, which was carrying about thirty of our church members back home after a combined church service. The truck driver is presently in jail. All of our saints are grieving, particularly those in the north where the victims lived and the accident occurred. This is viewed as a national tragedy as well as a church tragedy.
Friday night, we attended one of our eight San Pedro de Macoris churches, the Porvenir branch. Lewis Reid is the pastor and one of seven Dominican Republic board members. The service began with the congregation singing, "If Jesus Goes with Me, I'll Go." Then a forty-voice choir sang three selections, including "How Great Thou Art" and "Blessed Assurance." Each section featured several soloists, all of whom sang beautifully. After two of our team testified, the choir sang again, "Agnes Dei (Worthy is the Lamb)." Brother Tim brought the message from Luke 18:1-8, showing that the widow had faith to believe the unjust judge would vindicate her, and the Lord will also hear and answer our prayers.
Saturday was spent at the La Romana headquarters church with a minister's meeting and lunch. Brother Alberto, who hasn't been out to a service for many months, conducted the meeting. We had opportunity to speak with several pastors from the north who had cared for the dead and injured at the accident scene and at the hospital and morgue afterward. We did our best to extend condolences, letting them know that not only Portland, but our worldwide work is carrying them on our hearts. As reports of all they are dealing with continued, we were also able to commit to the acquisition of a forty-eight-passenger bus to be used in the north. We told them that the saints of God had donated enough for that within ten hours of hearing of the catastrophic accident.
The survivors of the dead had no funds to bury their loved ones, but the church stood as guarantors. The injured are facing mounting medical bills and the dead have left orphans who will also need help. We have already been promised that more help would be coming from different parts of the world. Additionally, the Dominican Republic Apostolic Faith churches are banding together to do what they can. Others not of our faith have also promised to help.
While the challenge before them is immense, these saints are facing it only as one can, looking to the Lord for comfort and grace. Please continue to pray.