Change the World – Action Required!

KaraWhen you first meet Griselda you would never imagine that she has a plan to change the world. But she does. Griselda and her husband, Eladio, are from a rural mountain village called Angosto located about 20 miles west of Jarabacoa in the Dominican Republic. Generational poverty is what you see when you drive intoAngosto Angosto, but it’s what you don’t readily see that will break your heart. Violence, alcoholism, drug abuse and human trafficking are part of the everyday fabric of this community’s life. Fathers take their young daughters into the city to work as prostitutes. These ugly evils stand in sharp contrast to natural beauty of the landscape. One other thing you won’t see in Angosto or the surrounding area is a church. Christ-followers are seen as enemies, a threat to the status quo.

GriseldaAbout three years ago God began to stir in Griselda a desire to bring the Gospel to Angosto, and a year later that stirring became a clear vision. The vision is to pour the love of Jesus into the children of Angosto. And so she began to gather children under a very small wooden shed that has no walls.  They use concrete blocks as their chairs and wooden slabs as their tables. But what they lack in material resources they make up for in faith, hope and love. What began as a gathering of two children has now become a group of 25 or more each Saturday. Parents regularly join in to watch and listen and learn. Not long ago these same parents would not let their children outside to play for fear of violence between feuding families. Now the children of those same families are playing together and leading the way to peace.

Last week a group of us from Prince of Peace visited Angosto. We met Griselda and Eladio and heard their vision and their passion. And then we spent the day helping to lay the foundation for a small Building in Angostocommunity center that will serve as their mission outpost, allowing for expansion of their ministry. It’s a simple, open-air structure with a concrete floor and a roof, but what will happen in that building will change the life of that community for generations. By God’s grace the fruit of love, joy, faith and peace is already evident in the lives of children and their parents in Angosto.

Look again at the face of the little girl at the top of this post. Her name is Kara and she lives in Angosto. With curious eyes and a wary smile Kara watched us work throughout the day. She had no idea what all the activity was about, but we did. It was about saving her from a life of forced prostitution. Every time I looked at her my eyes welled. Everything changes when a problem “out there” suddenly has a face, especially one as beautiful as Kara’s.

The materials for Griselda and Eladio’s mission outpost will cost about $1500, and they have additional plans to build both a bathroom and an enclosed expansion. To date they have raised about $800 for their building project. That’s far more than many Dominicans make in a year. One of my traveling companions has generously offered a $500 match for donations made by clicking this link and writing “Angosto” in the note section. I urge you to join me in making Gridselda’s vision a reality and changing the world one child, one family, at a time. Do it for Kara’s sake. Do it for the sake of Angosto’s future. Do it for the sake of the Gospel. Do it now.

Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

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