Rogers in Quarantine

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As the first COVID-19 case was identified on the island, our church planting team had a conference where Jeff had the opportunity to train local leaders how to make hand washing stations with water and clorox available to their communities.  Hand sanitizer and hand soap may be difficult to get their hands on, but clorox and water would do the trick.  They quickly passed on the simple instructions to all the other leaders.

On March 17, the Dominican president announced that all travel into the island by land, sea or air was shut down and flights for foreigners to their home country would be available until March 19 and then ferry flights may be available if necessary.  We decided to stay and got groceries and learned how to do classes online as the girls amazing school quickly made adjustments.  Jeff  began working diligently with the seminary team to move all classes online as well.

q1The Dominican President issued initially a 8:00pm-6:00am curfew to keep people quarantined and slow the spread of the virus for the limited medical resources available for the population.  We moved the Central Church English Bible study for adults that Jeff leads and the middle/high school group that Vicki leads online.  Interesting cultural difference, there was plenty of toilet paper left at the grocery, but rice and beans went quickly.  Our street was eerily quiet on our daily walk with the dog.  

 

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Wednesday of that week we received a call from a pastor friend in the US. Two of their congregants had just gotten married and continued with their plans for their Dominican honeymoon. They were going to be evicted from their hotel on Thursday. We helped them secure a flight out of Santiago Saturday morning and hosted them at one of our ministry apartments until then.

 

The following week things were getting more restricted in the Dominican. Non-essential businesses were closed; a mandatory curfew from 5pm-6am was put in place. Being found out and about would lead to arrests. The country was taking this very seriously due to lack of resources to care for this outbreak.  The US embassy sent out messages that any Americans that fit in the high risk category for medical need should return to the states.

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As many of you know, our twins were preemies, born 2 ½ months early. They spent the first days of their lives on ventilators and then the next months on various levels of oxygen.  They were diagnosed with “mild chronic lung disease” prior to their being discharged from the hospital. Sophi came home on oxygen for another two months or so. We spent months in quarantine during the RSV seasons for two winters with a nurse coming to our house each month the first winter giving the girls shots to strengthen their lungs.  They were on consistent breathing treatments during allergy season for those first few years. As the Dominican government’s efforts to slow the fermenting Covid-19 outbreak we realized that the twin’s might likely be in the higher risk tier. After a call to our specialist in the states, we decided to try to get back to the states for the girls’ medical needs.  However, flights out were being canceled left and right.   We put this fleece before the Lord, if we should go, let our flight not be canceled.  As we prayed and wrestled over this decision we invited several to join us in prayer. One of our dear friends contacted us and said they had arranged housing for us if we made it through.

airport 2We booked a flight on Jetblue from Santiago to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, March 28. We had a friend at the American Embassy that kept us informed of the situation in the country and another missionary friend who was a Jetblue pilot (he had been a part of our Bible study before returning to the States) giving us insider info on the situation with Jetblue. Saturday morning at 6:30am he texted us that the Jetblue plane was in the air headed to our airport so we left the house. The last thing we wanted to do was expose our family at the airport and then have the flight canceled. We had prepped the girls. “Remember the game, ‘the floor is lava,’ well we’re going to play ‘EVERYTHING is lava.’ Don’t touch anything, sanitize frequently, whenever you can, keep your distance
from others.” We made it through a packed flight to Fort Lauderdale, changed our clothes in the bathroom, disinfected our luggage, rented a car and began our nearly non-airport 4stop 15 hour drive to Kentucky. As the Lord would have it, it turned out that our Jetblue pilot friend was driving his two college students down to their home in Naples, Florida from Trevecca University in Nashville, Tennessee. We were able to social distance meet
up at a gas station on I-75 as we were headed North while they were heading South to thank him in person!  We also discovered that we were the last flight out of Santiago to Ft. Lauderdale.  They cancelled the rest of the flights and would close that airport three days later.

rogers update 3We’ve had special touches from the Lord nearly every step of this unexpected journey. We left at 6:30 Saturday morning and arrived at 6:30 Sunday morning to our quarantine home for the next 20 days or so. We are currently 1 ½ hours outside of Louisville in Leitchfield, Kentucky in a friend of a friend’s home. The generosity of the Church has been unbelievable!  Our friends had stocked it with food, sharing again what they had with us and simply saying, “It’s all God’s.”  We will be here until mid-May and then will be relocating to a farmhouse some friends of ours have about 20 minutes outside of Louisville. We cleared our quarantine period with no Covid symptoms but will continue to “shelter in place.”  As we entered the house, we noticed a large cross over the fireplace with the same scripture we had printed on the girls isolettes when they were in the NICU for two months, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we can not see”.  Hebrews 11:1  God is in the details.

q2Our work with GO continues. Before we left the island we were already working remotely. Gatherings have been shut down so meeting for seminary was not an option. Like our children, we have moved to an online format that we continue to work to build out across 3 platforms: Google Classroom, Zoom meetings, and WhatsApp. We had wanted to establish an online component of the Seminary. Covid has made that a front burner issue.  The Seminary team that we have developed have embraced this challenge and are running with it.  We’re so grateful, impressed, and proud of the efforts to adapt to the current times and continue to empower others to better understand the good news of the Kingdom of God and better learn how to demonstrate it for others.

92459149_10158119948684111_4065123517018931200_oOur church planters continue to serve their communities in meaningful ways providing pastoral care, practical relief where needed, and constant follow up with their affected  communities. Covid-19 has brought many unexpected and difficult things. It has also brought with it the opportunity for the Church to embrace a fresh authenticity and a new opportunity to love others well. It’s happening in the Dominican Republic right now just as it is in the US and elsewhere.  We are grateful for the generosity of the citizens of God’s Kingdom. He has graciously provided for us through them, through you, and through so many others.

 

 

 

He Has Risen

he has risen

What a time to celebrate His victory!!!  As our world waits in uncertainty, we are only certain of victory!  Victory over death, over poverty, over pain, over sin, over brokenness, over shame, over despair, over grief, over loss, over injustice!  We claim this promise for our family and for yours!  As my brother bravely battled cancer, we would always say to each other, “We’re going on a bear hunt.  Can’t go over it.  Can’t go under it.  We’ve got to go through it.”  I’m so thankful we have His promise that He is with us through it and there is victory on the other side!

As we wait in quarantine, we look for what we can be grateful for and there are so many things we list each day.  We look for good in all the hard and suffering that is occurring all around.  We watch families spend more quality time together, communities unite as neighbors serve each other, and the Church leave constructed walls and enter family rooms and streets across the globe.  We witness the dethroning of all other gods we have desperately tried to serve.   The gods of comfort, health, control, security, success are all being shaken.  Real grief follows as the “norm” is tipped upside down.  Fear grips the globe.  And we are hopeful of a new “normal”.  One that is surrendered and resurrected.

Jesus says He is the great “I am”.  He is the Resurrection and the Life!   He has the power to literally bring dead things to life.  Dead jobs, dead relationships, dead passions, dead ends, dead hopes, dead dreams.  He makes a way!

As we all walk, crawl, swim through this “bear hunt”, please let us know how we can pray for you.  In this time of still, we are interceding for others with His Truth and promises.  Please just shoot us an email here and we will add you to our prayer wall and commit to lifting you up from our knees.

Praying His resurrection forward for each of you as we celebrate His victory today!

Watching Fruit Form…

Our vision at the Seminary is to see leaders of the church catch a vision for team leadership, multiplication, and a commitment to sparking Kingdom movement.  We want to empower them to plant and lead churches that redeem people, renew communities, and restore Creation.  Many leaders here have historically led by themselves which puts the burden of everything on their own shoulders.  It often results in burn out and stagnant churches that struggle to engage their respective communities in meaningful ways.  With the help of our Seminary team, that reality is beginning to shift.  We’re blessed to participate in this effort and even more blessed to see our efforts bearing fruit.

FruitIn our Incarnational Ministry and Strategies course (if you want to listen to an overview of what that is you can here) I looked around the room.  These students standing around me represent first and second generations of leadership multiplication.  One of these students served 20 years in prison and came to Christ through the prison ministry of Pablo & Moses, graduates from our seminary.  They raised him up as a leader in the prison and now he’s being theologically equipped to serve others more effectively in prisons and the church.  Two others are from a community called the Hole.  The current pastor (a recent graduate) saw their potential and built a team with them and encouraged them to study at the seminary.  One hopes to plant a church, the other leads sports outreach with extremely at-risk youth.  Two of our other students are working to plant churches, one on the northern coast (he’s an apprentice to one of our graduates who has already planted a church in the North) the other in Santo Domingo with her husband.  They are both in our Church Planting residency program.  These are blossoms and fruit forming on the tree!  We can’t wait to see what God continues to do with them and how they impact new communities!

Assessment

December Church Planting Assessment

This past December 6th & 7th we completed our third and final church planting assessment for the year.  Our local leader team invited me to train on developing Biblical Team Leadership with 16 candidates.  They have the potential to plant 8 new churches!  They came to us from the North and Southwest parts of the country.  They pursued us after the 3 city church planting conference tour we helped lead together back in October.  More blossoms on the tree!

 

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More churches means more lives, more communities transformed with the hope of the Gospel.  These accounts are just part of the effort to plant 1000 churches globally in the next 10 years.  To support this effort we are actively raising funds to complete our Church Planting/Seminary headquarters.  A donor has offered a matching gift of up to $150,000 by December 31st, 2019.  If you’d like to make a contribution that will be doubled you can do so here, helping us further this movement.

Motorcycle Diaries? Some Thoughts that were Provoked Today Carpooling

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Something I saw today has stirred me, has me thinking about the Kingdom of God, gratitude, and generosity.

I’ve learned to accept that I’ve never seen it all.  Today I saw another new first, 6 people on one motorcycle.  I passed a man traveling in the opposite direction with 5 children on his moto on their way to school.  There were 2 kids in front of him and 3 behind.  I was about the same task.  It’s our week to carpool.  I had 5 children with me but in a 2005 Honda Pilot.

Proximity over time combined with familiarity of place can blind you.

You get used to seeing things that are hard, that are broken, that are unjust, living anywhere I suppose.  It’s especially true living and serving in the majority world.  You get used to poverty and its consequences.  You get used to economic injustice and the misbalance of privilege.  But every once in a while you glimpse something that wakes you.  Proximity over time combined with familiarity of place can blind you.  Today, for whatever reason, my vision was restored, for how long remains to be seen.

Now a family of 5 on a moto is no unusual occurrence here in the Dominican Republic.  It simply is.  It’s likely that no one else even noticed the 6 person, 2 wheeled carpool.  It’s just business as usual on the way to school.  In my culture that would never happen.  There’s public transportation for kids going to school.  Laws would not allow more than 2 people on a motorcycle.  The police would at least ticket the driver, probably arrest him for wanton endangerment and usher the kids off to social services.

Yeah, there are risks involved in riding to school. 

However, life here makes such risks necessary to seek out opportunities.  There was a lot happening on that moto.  6 lives, six stories being told one day at a time, a man getting kids to school so that they can have a shot at a better future.  Yeah, there are risks involved in riding to school.

There’s risks involved in not going.  Only about 25% of Dominicans complete high school which feeds the systems of poverty at work here.  The Dominican is the 4th largest exporter of women and girls to be trafficked internationally.  The Dominican is known as the Thailand of Latin America when it comes to sex tourism, an industry built upon the exploitation of at-risk women and children.  4 of the 6 passengers in my Honda are girls, 3 of them are my daughters.  These girls (all 4) are nowhere close to facing the risks that will be faced by their Dominican counterparts on that moto.  The difference is not lost on me.

The dangers of getting to school are wagered against the dangers of not getting to school.  Education is only one preventative measure that’s needed.  Meanwhile, our neighbor with which we share the island to the west, Haiti, continues its descent into chaos.

Better to be in a Honda Pilot on the way to school then be one of 6 on a moto on the way to school.  Better to be one of 6 on a moto on the way to school then to be trapped in a country where schools are shut down and violence and grief in the streets are matched only by the trash while being disregarded by some world leaders as a crap hole country (those last 3 words were a paraphrase).

Gratitude needs to be cultivated but choosing it based upon comparison is ugly.

There’s a tension in gratitude in the face of the grief and trials of others.  First, how often do I lack gratitude?  Gratitude needs to be cultivated but choosing it based upon comparison is ugly.  Cultivating gratitude can also be dangerous if it’s not matched with a generosity of spirit that is reflected in how we share all of our resources, emotional, relational, spiritual, material, financial, etc.  Being grateful that we don’t suffer what other’s suffer without making efforts to engage their suffering in any meaningful way… is that gratitude?  Or just meanness?

Privilege, be it white, economic, racial, national, whatever form, it’s a real thing. 

Bono writes and sings in “Crumbs from Your Table,” that “Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die.”  He’s identifying an absence of alignment between the Kingdom of God and the culture of the broken world.  Where you live shouldn’t decide whether you live or die but it does.  Privilege, be it white, economic, racial, national, whatever form, it’s a real thing.  It’s true.  It needs to be recognized by people who have it, especially if they claim to follow Jesus.  We can be grateful for what we have, who we’ve become, where we are… but I think that if gratitude is to be Christian or Holy we have to be moved to leverage what we’ve got for the benefit of those that don’t have those same privileges or access to the opportunities that grow out of those privileges.

We need to continually remind ourselves and each other that our privileges need to be leveraged for others

In his letter to the church in Corinth (1 Cor 13) Paul explains that there are many gifts but one Spirit, that these gifts are only properly understood and applied when they are shared in community to bring health  rather than being set against one another to foster division.  For those of us that claim Jesus, we need to continually remind ourselves and each other that our privileges need to be leveraged for others rather than secured for ourselves. We must resist the temptation to build a wall around them for our own security and gain.  These gifts that we receive which come from the Spirit and these privileges that we often inherit from the culture of brokenness specific to our own cultures find their best use and redemptive possibility under the lordship of King Jesus.

We fail the Kingdom of God when we feign ownership over that for which we are merely stewards.

If we’re not careful we can mask selfishness with false gratitude.

The end of Acts 2 gives us a glimpse of the Kingdom inviting church at its best.  The early Jesus followers held everything in common.  They ate together, gathered, and served day by day.  The way they were present, the way they served in their respective communities earned them the favor of all the people, their neighbors, likely their enemies.  They lived out a gratitude marked by generosity and it transformed the Roman Empire.  We fail the Kingdom of God when we feign ownership over that for which we are merely stewards.  If we’re not careful we can mask selfishness with false gratitude.  May we steward well, may we steward better, together, aligning the world around us with our various influences in closer approximation with the Kingdom of God.

Look what you’ve helped us do!!!

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This past year we merged the Seminary with our Church Planting Team.  Together we are equipping Dominican and Haitian men and women to develop teams committed to mission, discipleship, and multiplication with a goal to plant over 1000 healthy churches in 10 years. 

These churches aren’t your typical church buildings…these churches are groups of local leaders longing to Redeem people, Renew communities and Restore creation and are meeting in prisons, in homes, on baseball fields, and with women workers on the street.   The transformation is so incredible, that in 2020 we’ll see this effort expand beyond the island!

So much is happening!  Leaders trained in the seminary are putting what they’ve learned into action.  We now have women leaders reaching out to those vulnerable to trafficking, engaging prostitutes with the love of Jesus.  Our team leading prison ministry has now established two inmate led churches in two different prisons, have seen over 400 inmates be baptized, and are actively discipling over 1,000 inmates through inmate leaders who have been trained by our team.  Below is a glimpse of what has happened with regards to the seminary and church planting over the past 3 years:

At the end of 2016:

  • 4 US Missionary families serving Church Planting efforts
  • 18 churches in GO Ministries Network in the Dominican Republic
  • Theological training offered through our seminary with 45 students
  • No church planting assessment process
  • No residency or apprenticeship
  • No church planting systems or structure in place
  • No trainings specific to church planting

Happening Now and in 2020!!!

  • 19 US Missionaries, Dominicans, and soon, Haitians serving on the Church Planting Team
  • 71 churches now in the GO network, 53 churches planted in the last 3 years!
  • 24 new house churches being established in the first 6 months of 2020
  • December 6-7 will be our 6th church planting assessment with 20 new couples (we just passed 8 couples in October)
  • 14 church planters representing 7 new churches currently being trained in our residency program
  • In June we will receive our first international planting residents
  • 2nd trip to start a planting movement in Puerto Rico
  • 2020 all existing churches will multiply, sending their apprentices to start new work
  • 4 Church Planting Conferences will be local leader led recruiting and equipping new planters
  • Seminary will obtain global reach through use of technology
  • Seminary has expanded to serve in 7 physical locations in the Dominican Republic
  • Seminary has 69 grads and is currently serving 227 students

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A Radical Matching Opportunity!

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We are excited about a radical matching opportunity and we need your help to steward it well!

A generous donor is matching dollar for dollar every gift made up to $150,000 by December 31st of this year!!   The matched $150,000 will go towards the construction of our seminary/church planting headquarters that will become our center of operations for training & sending in order to plant 1000 healthy churches in ten years!

These churches aren’t your typical church buildings…these churches are groups of local leaders longing to Redeem people, Renew communities and Restore creation and are meeting in prisons, in homes, on baseball fields, and with women workers on the street.   The transformation is so incredible, that in 2020 we’ll see this effort expand beyond the island!  Check out the transformation on the island through GO Church Planting & Seminary in the last three years here.

  Four Ways to Help:

  • Pray that we succeed in this effort.
  • Share this opportunity with friends, small groups, Bible study groups, and others you know that are interested in theological training and church planting.  And if you’ve got questions, ask us, we’d love to share more!
  • Share this post on social media to help get the word out.
  • And finally, GIVE so we can make the most of this opportunity!

 

 End-of-the-Year Gifts/Your Gift Will Be DOUBLED!!

We need your prayerful consideration in investing financially in the Kingdom work we do.  Please give towards our year-end goal of $20,000.

It will result in $40,000!  Can you partner with us at one of these amounts?

8 gifts of $1000 or more

10 gifts of $500 or more

 20 Gifts of $250 or more

20 Gifts of $100 or more


 Ways to Give

Type “300k CP” to insure matching gift in the “Leave a Comment” box under “Designation”

  • MAIL:  You can also mail a check made payable to GO Ministries with “300k CP-Rogers” written in the memo line.

Mail to:

GO Ministries, Inc.

11501 Plantside Dr. Suite 14

Louisville, KY 40299


Sophi & Raena Need Your Help to Take D.C.!!

Girls take DC

It’s a challenge holding a passport and having family in one country while living in another.  Every time we return to our birth country, several references come up in conversations that the girls are lost on.  We’re told it’s part of being a third culture kid moving between different cultures.  That’s why we are so excited that their class is taking an international trip to Washington DC!  It’s a great opportunity for them to learn about their birth country!!!  

We’ve had several friends and ministry partners ask about how they might help financially with their upcoming trip.  We thought we’d share all of the details in one place so that anyone who wanted could easily help out with an extra gift or a one-time gift towards this special trip.  Because this trip is educational and a part of Santiago Christian School’s curriculum, the cost of the trip can be covered by GO Ministries so long as we can raise the funds to cover the expenses which means that all gifts are tax deductible for the donor.

In May, they will be touring various locations important to our nation’s capital.  Vicki has been asked to come along to serve as a chaperone and also assist Sophi and Raena with any communication needs that they will have along the way.  We are grateful for the school’s generosity in underwriting the cost of Vicki’s expenses.  However, the cost for Sophi and Raena to participate in this event totals around $4000.

We had planned on this trip last year when we first found out about it, but then lost $2000/month in regular support.  We have been working to make that up but now we will need to fundraise additionally to cover the expense of this trip and some other special educational needs that the girls will have starting in the fall.

If you’d like to make a special financial gift towards Sophi’s & Raena’s educational trip, it would be quite welcome.  You can give directly online here: www.gomin.org/rogers  Please type “Rogers Education Trip” in the “Leave a Comment” dialogue box.

If you’re more comfortable sending in a check just make it out to “GO Ministries” and write, “Rogers Education Trip” in the memo line.  You can then mail it to:

GO Ministries, Inc.

11501 Plantside Dr. Suite #14

Louisville, KY 40299 

Please be in prayer for our family during this time as Vicki will be in the States with the twins and Jeff will be in the Dominican with Ella.

Grace & Peace,

The Rogers

Prison Recovery, Graduation, Church Planting…

Moises & Pablo

Moises & Pablo

Pablo Peralta and Moises Pimental are two graduates from the GO Seminary of the Americas.  Jeff was blessed to learn with them while teaching them when they were his students.  He’s even more blessed to have brought them on as Seminary Staff so that they now work together as a team.

Pablo and Moises have become an amazing apostolic team as they continue to spark the hope of Jesus in several prisons here in the Dominican Republic.  They both have a background in recovery ministry and the missional training they received at the Seminary turned into a dream to see inmates healed of brokenness in prisons.  Pablo had always wanted to establish a rehab facility like the one he had worked in while living in Costa Rica, however, he did not have the resources to fund such an effort.  Moises said, why not focus our efforts on the prisons?  There’s tremendous need and the food and lodging for the population we’d be serving would already be covered.  We would simply bring the recovery content to them.

So in January of 2017 they started a Celebrate Recovery program with 30 inmates in the local Santiago prison of Rafey.  To date, they’ve made their way into 5 prisons:  a men’s and women’s prison in Santiago, San Filipe in Puerto Plata, La Vega, and Moca.  They are overseeing the discipleship of just over 900 inmates and that number is consistently growing.  They have baptized just over 350 inmates that have made decisions to follow Jesus!

Their Celebrate Recovery work

Moses and Pable

Pablo & Moises about to baptize an inmate

 has created opportunities for the GO Seminary of the Americas.  We have 2 cohorts that make up 104 students that are in our 2 year Apollos Project program which is a 150 hour training in theology and Christian fundamentals.  In March, we graduated our first class of 35 student inmates!

Inmate Class of 2019

Inmate Class of 2019

 

Because of Pablo’s and Moises’s efforts, inmates are now thanking God that they ended up in prison because the Kingdom life they are experiencing through their discovery of the Gospel is transforming their lives.  Jeff has witnessed many inmates testify to this reality.

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Jeff addressing the graduates

Now the Seminary is offering Celebrate Recovery groups, Forging Leadership training, the “Rooted” small group Bible Study as well as the Apollos Project Seminary training!  We currently have 3 former inmates who have served their time studying at our Seminary’s physical location!  When you visit these prisons, you will see a handful of inmates in GO Seminary of the Americas t-shirts.  These shirts identify those wearing them as teams of leaders being trained by Pablo and Moises.  The 3rd week of March the inmates were given permission by the administration in La Vega to have a worship service every Friday!  We are well into the process, by God’s grace, of planting churches inside the prisons that will be inmate led by inmates that were trained in theology and ministry while inside the prisons!

We are blessed to partner with Pablo and Moises and their amazing work!  We are in need of 500 copies of the “Rooted” Bible study workbook to support their work in the prison.  They cost us about $5 a piece to print.  If you’d like to contribute a few copies at $5 each you can make a donation online here.

Rooted

If you’d like to support our family’s efforts here on the island through Medical and Seminary ministry you may do so here.

Grace & Peace,

The Rogers

Back to School…

Vicki knows my heart for the Church, for the GO Seminary of the Americas, and for our family.  She’s hinted at this before but this time she really pressed in.  “You should look into a PHD or doctoral program now that the girls are old enough.”  I recieved my Masters of Arts in Religion back in 2003 but that was before children.  My advisor at the time said, “You’ll do the work, but the whole family is involved in the process.”  I was hesitant to go further with my education once we had children because they were young and I didn’t want to risk being pulled away from them.  Now that they’re older, if I could find the right program, I could work through it in a way that didn’t affect my family or work responsibilities and it would be immediately benificial to the work that we are doing with the Seminary and church planting.

These last 6 years serving the Seminary I’ve become more and more convinced that what leaders and servants in the Church need to rediscover are the missional/incarnational practices of life under the Lordship of Christ for the sake of the world.  If I were to make a commitment as big as doctoral work, it would have to be in the area I felt God has positioned me to contribute to and enhance our efforts here on the island with GO.

In the Fall of 2018 I started listening to podcasts.  I discovered a few that I really like, Unbelievable, Seminary Dropout, Ask N.T. Wright Anything, and Theology on Mission.  It was through listening to Theology on Mission that I got wind of a doctoral program being offered with a Missional/Incarnational bent.  When Vic challenged me to look into a doctoral program that made sense I started searching on the web.  The only thing that came close, seemed to be Northern Seminary in Chicago, the site from which the podcast was developed.  I still couldn’t find specific details to see what the program involved or if I could even participate depending on how it was offered.

I rolled the dice and messaged David Fitch (cohost of the podcast and director over the doctoral program I was exploring) on Facebook.  We weren’t Facebook friends.  We know some of the same people.  I figured the message would disappear in the sub-inbox in messenger where all the scammer messages go.  He got back to me in less than 24 hours with details about a Doctor of Ministry program in Contextual Theology with an emphasis in Missional Leadership.  It’s exactly what I’ve been looking and waiting for, and, It would only require me to be on campus 2 weeks out of the year over 3 years’ time.  I could do it from the Dominican Republic.  However, I would have to move quickly because the program is only offered every 3 years and the next group of students would start in June of this year.  We would have to make the decision quickly or I’d be waiting 3 years to get started.

It’s a big commitment to embark on this program at my age both in terms of time and expense.  Having to make this decision is such a short amount of time would require some confirmation on God’s part.  I have been praying for God to make it clear that this is a path we should pursue, that if we weren’t supposed to, that God would slam the door in my face.  And so these are the things that have happened in the last 3-4 weeks that have urged us along.

Fitch told me in his first email that I should contact J.D. Reed, someone doing similar work to my own, but in Bolivia, who is just finishing up the program.  That was on a Friday.  I didn’t realize that J.D. had been copied on the email.  Sunday morning I had a message in my inbox from J.D.  He was in Bolivia getting on a plane to the Dominican Republic and wanted to meet with me to discuss the program!  He happened to be in Santiago 3 days later.  We met for an hour and ½ and he encouraged me to apply.  That Friday I had a phone meeting with David Fitch, further encouraging me to move forward with the process.  Later that day I listened to a Theology on Mission podcast that interviewed theologian Michael Gorman who works at Northern.  The content of their dialogue covered material that I teach frequently in the Seminary… More confirmation.  That night, Vicki had gone to hang out with some staff friends.  Our friend gave her a book from one of her profs entitled Endangered Gospel.  I flipped the book over and the first endorser of the book was Scot Mcknight, one of Northern Seminary’s New Testament teachers.  Later, I learned that David Fitch was mentored by Stanley Hauerwas, a theologian who has been very influential for my growing understanding of the meaning of the Church and what it means to be a disciple.   I started the application process and was a little discouraged to discover that my Masters of Arts in

FitchReligion was 18 credit hours short of the requirements for the Doctoral program.  I would have to do equivalency work alongside the program.  Even so, I submitted the application and was waiting to hear back.  That was 2 weeks after the whole thing started.  I was later working with a team member in conjunction with a mobile medical clinic.  We were painting a wall together.  Mike, the team member, was asking me about the program.  As we were discussing it, a patient walked past us wearing a t-shirt that said “Fitch,” which just happens to be the last name of the director of my program.  So I took a picture… I mean, what are the odds?

I was accepted into the program on March 8th.  I met with my advisor a few days later and was informed that I have been given full Master’s of Divinity equivalency which means I will not have to make up the 18 credit hours, which also means that I won’t have to pay for them!Accepted

So… Here we go!  I have my first syllabus, the books are ordered, and I begin when they arrive.

God has made it clear to me that my contribution to the Kingdom is in helping the Church recapture the missional impulse of the Kingdom of God, learning to live out the implications of being a citizen of God’s Kingdom right now.  If you’re interested in an overview of this kind of content, I’ve made it available here at The Gringlish Fellowship podcast.  Just click the image and it will take you to the page.  We’ve had several visitors to the Seminary ask for this content so we’ve made it public.  It’s about a 40ish minute presentation and directly relates to what I will be studying more deeply at Northern.

Missional

In the meantime, we covet your prayers as we move forward with this training.  We will need God’s provision along the way in terms of more financial partnerships, but with our growing ministries, that’s nothing new.  We’d ask that you join us in praying for God’s generosity through his people as we further steward our gifts for His work and that through this, and the ability to teach others what I’m learning, that others will discover more ways to be faithfully present in their communities, making the presence of God’s Kingdom known and felt, transforming their communities with the power of the gospel.