As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Today was quite a full one! We took a break from working alongside Vision Celestial to visit some other local Dominican Republic ministries at work. It was a day full of hearing and seeing the vision of some amazing individuals and groups.
We began with breakfast and a quick tour at CCR (Christ's Church of Resurrection - roughly translated). CCR is doing very similar work in their neighborhood, closer to the river running through the DR, to Vision Celestial. They have a water purification program, a full and bustling Compassion education program, a dental / skill-equipping program, and much more points of contact with their community. They reside near a small and narrow neighborhood where they minister. Their goal is to purchase, eventually, the whole block so they can minister even more holistically and fully.
Next, we drove through some lovely and crazy traffic to ICC (Christian Community Church) in the heart of the Colonial City - where we had explored a little on Sunday. Our friend Raphael, who recently visited Hillside, pastors this wonderful church. ICC has a vision to be "the church Jesus wanted, and the church Jesus dreams of" for the Colonial City. Their primary way of pursuing this vision is through the encouragement and discipleship of their entire body - their portion of the priesthood of all believers. The church leadership doesn't necessarily start its own programs. Every ministry they have was begun with small and faithful actions of lay people and then backed by Raphael and the rest of leadership. They try and fail, but they also try and grow! Out of this process, ICC has a thriving homeless lunch ministry (that started with one stove in an empty parking lot), an elderly care ministry (that started with setting up mattresses in the church courtyard), and a Montessori school (that started as a simple tutoring time in one woman's home). ICC really believes in it's people. Raphael guides them, backs them, and advances the vision God has for his people in the Colonial City, no matter how it ends up looking.
After ICC, we visited the International Justice Mission (IJM) office. The location is unmarked in order to remain secretive, since the work they do is dangerous, risky, and very important. IJM serves many different nations by partnering with local governments in order to train and equip law enforcement to combat sex trafficking - among other large social justice issues. They have their own trained investigators, but it is their goal to raise up a sustainable system within a nation's own government to be passionately saving at-risk peoples. The office in the DR is relatively new, so growth is slow in some regards, but there is growth! This is huge, since, before IJM came in to partner with the local government (and churches), there had been very little movement to combat sex trafficking. Please be praying for the IJM staff especially, as their work is very secretive in very dark places.
We ended the day heading back to Vision Celestial to visit some children and their families in their homes - children whom team members sponsor. It was a sweet time, despite the challenges of language differences. Thank goodness for our wonderful translators! It was so fun to see how excited these kids were to connect with their sponsors. For most of them, it was not their first time meeting their sponsors. The children remember everything their sponsors share with them. It's amazing.
After a long day running around we settled down at our "home" to process and to eat Dominican lasagna.
It turned out to be a dense, busy, but challenging day regarding vision - our individual and collective vision. Each ministry we visited served with similar principles, but with different expressions - each extremely important in their context, scope, and measurable fruitfulness. Together they complete a picture of a dynamic Kingdom of God. Our team is discovering that we carry those same characteristics - each of us are different, with different visions, contexts, scopes, etc. Yet if we apply the same principles of the Kingdom, of seeing, then we can, too, partner to dynamically express the in-breaking Kingdom of God.
In the Matthew passage above, the author takes note that both Jesus and the pharisees SEE. They look at the same situation, a bunch of rejects and failures, but see different potentials. The pharisees see only what's right in front of them, the obvious, a people who are undeserving of God's love. Jesus sees through the obvious, into the potential, a people who deserve God's love - knowing God's radical love can transform them in unbelievable ways. So he goes out of his way to reject the culture of the pharisees, the comfortable culture, to present a new culture to those he sees in need of love and healing.
Which vision do we carry today? Do we see like the pharisees? - the obvious, the acceptable, the separating? Or do we see like Jesus? - the potential, the risky, the messy?
Abba Father, give us sight like yours. We all are prone, in our own ways, to be blind - to have tunnel vision when it comes to your Kingdom. We are foolish to think we have no vision... we see... and we act based on what we see. Give us sight to see what you see as you see! Cause the team to see each other's potential, to work together, to see the potential of others as the ministries of the DCC see. Have your way with us. Amen