Serving in the Dominican Republic

I have to admit, when I first found out about Jarabacoa, I remember thinking how intimidating of a place it was. The Dominican Republic as a country stands at such an interesting spot in it’s history. On one hand, it is multiethnic, beautifully diverse, and full of hospitable people who put relationships above their work. On the other hand, there are extreme issues of racial, socio-economic, and political tension between different groups who reside in the country (legally and illegally).

I first heard about this place through Curtis Powell, and more specifically about the school, which him and his family served at, called Doulos Discovery School. The more I heard about his stories of relational healing, reconciliation between people, and the power of an education for students, I knew I had found the “place” where I was supposed to be.

Since being a student at Whitworth, I have learned how powerful the role of identity is to the work of reconciliation. Without knowing about who we are, how can we work begin the work of helping people fully understand each other?

Back in December, I had applied for a YoungLife internship on a whim, not knowing where I would want to go, but the camp in Jarabacoa “Pico Escondido” caught my attention. I applied for it along with three other North American camps and waited to hear back. About three days later, I heard that not only was I accepted as an intern for the summer, but that they had encouraged the idea of staying long term and think about any opportunity I could get to stay during the academic school year, and thus I applied for Doulos Discovery School.

Now when I think of service, for some reason my western American mind has never been able to think about that word independently from qualifications.  However, the more I have served in various roles, the more I realize that service is not rooted in what I have done, but who I am.

When it comes to service, identity is foundational. Everyone has a role in the Kingdom. Some are called to be stewards of prayer, others teaching, and others creating art.

Our capacity to serve is not measured in our qualifications, but rather in who we are as people.

When I got the confirmation call that I had been added on to the staff at Doulos as a Bible Teacher and Guidance Counselor, I will admit that I have never felt such a wave of both anxiety and excitement; Excitement, because this opportunity will change me in ways I have yet to even imagine, but Anxiety because I have never felt more unqualified for a position in my life.  

The beauty of this is that God has given us distinct identities in the Kingdom.  Our identities our rooted utterly in his abundance. When we become aware of our identities as it exists in his Kingdom, we become stewards of God’s generous capabilities.

Henri Nouwen, speaks on this idea of living into this identity from the view of a teacher which seems quite fitting.

Often we think that we do not know enough to be able to teach others. We might even become hesitant to tell others what we know, out of fear that we won’t have anything left to say when we are asked for more.

This mind-set makes us anxious, secretive, possessive, and self-conscious. But when we have the courage to share generously with others all that we know, whenever they ask for it, we soon discover that we know a lot more than we thought. It is only by giving generously from the well of our knowledge that we discover how deep that well is.

When the mother of James and John asks Jesus to give her sons a special place in his Kingdom, Jesus responds, “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” (Matthew 20:22). “Can we drink the cup?” is the most challenging and radical question we can ask ourselves. The cup is the cup of life, full of sorrows and joys. Can we hold our cups and claim them as our own? Can we lift our cups to offer blessings to others, and can we drink our cups to the bottom as cups that bring us salvation?

Keeping this question alive in us is one of the most demanding spiritual exercises we can practice. 

Our identity is not rooted in our in-capabilities, limitations, stereotypes, or other painful hurts we have experienced in life. Our identity is rooted in our roles as citizens of a Kingdom that is so beyond anything we have to offer or earn.

My encouragement to you, Immanuel, is twofold:

  1. Ask yourself deeply and critically what identity or role God has given you in the Kingdom? Are you a revealer? A healer? A mediator? An artist? A teacher? A student?
  2. How can you live into this role out of the abundance of who God is?

May we become people who do not find our identities in our work, but may we bring our identities intoour work and service. Gracia y paz,

Dylan Reyes

As a part of my blog I have also included ways you can support me on this next journey.

This week I will be hosting a fundraising event on Thursday May 17th, at 7pm in the YFC Building (1309 N Ash St.)

If you would like to give online, I will be accepting donations throughout this week and even after I depart for the DR until I am fully fundraised.

Here is a breakdown of how my fundraising works: