by Elizabeth M. Truong
There’s no doubt about it: The Lord is working through His peoplemissionaries, supporting congregations, districts, a Recognized Service Organization, the LCMS, national pastors and leaders, new Dominican pastors, doctors, nurses and othersto build up His Church in the Dominican Republic through witness and mercy ministry.
Church planting, theological education and human care ministries are being carried out side-by-side in this Caribbean nation just as they are through LCMS-supported witness and mercy work around the globe and just as they have been since the LCMS began foreign mission work in 1895.
“This mission field is attracting the whole spectrum of time, treasure and talents available in the LCMS,” said the Rev. Dr. David Birner, interim co-executive director of the Office of International Mission. “We’re connecting all sorts of LCMS resources. This is a model that can be applied to other mission opportunities, so that we get more congregations, schools and other critical ministries operating side-by-side started in more locations: Peru, Chile, Spain, Asia and beyond.”
The partners who are working together for the Gospel include the LCMS Office of International Mission, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina, Bethesda Lutheran Communities, the South Wisconsin District, St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, Ft. Myers, Fla., and many more.
The initial team of LCMS-supported missionaries was installed in August 2005. Willy Gaspar, a Dominican dentist who had heard about the Lutheran church and its teachings, attended the installation with 13 others who wanted to learn more. In March 2011, six years later, Gaspar was ordained as the first Dominican Lutheran pastor to be trained through the mission’s theological education program and also serves as the project manager for Building Homes and Hope in Haiti, the ongoing LCMS-supported post-earthquake ministry in Haiti.
Since 2005, God has already used the missionaries to plant five congregations, and another two are planned for 2012. Also, a Lutheran school is now in its second year of operation with an enrollment of 120 students.
Currently, six Dominican men are studying for the pastoral ministry, taking classes from missionaries the Rev. Ted Krey and the Rev. Walter Ries, along with online courses through Concordia Seminary, Buenos Aires. Also, one Argentinean vicar has already served alongside the LCMS team there, completing his 18-month vicarage, and a new vicar, Seminarian Roberto Weber, arrived in December 2011 to assist the mission team and learn from Pastors Krey and Ries.
We give thanks for the partnerships that the Lord has used to bring His Word to the hearts and minds of Dominican people through church planting, theological education and tangible acts of mercy, and we pray for the continued ministry of the LCMS team in the Dominican Republic.
> Learn more at www.lcms.org/dominicanrepublic
About the Author: Elizabeth M. Truong is a staff writer for LCMS Communications