From Deer Hunting to the Dominican Republic
From Deer Hunting to the Dominican Republic
I introduced you last week to PJ Weeks and his Rain Down Ministries in a Values Storying Spotlight, “A Different Kind of Deer Camp.” That’s a ministry through which he and a number of volunteers teach God’s pillars for wildlife conservation:
- Creation is a gift to enjoy (Genesis 1).
- Creation is a responsibility to be stewarded (Genesis 2:15-17).
- All of creation points to God’s grace in Christ
PJ uses transferable principles from hunting and conservation to teach young people how to live a responsible, ethical, productive life. These are principles not just for this life but that are intended to be passed down in order to leave a legacy to the next generation.
I’d love for you to check out Rain Down Ministries’ website to learn more about their hunting and fishing camps.
There is another aspect to PJ’s story of where the Lord has directed him, one that seems far removed from hunting and fishing. Today, my interview with PJ turns to the Dominican Republic, where he and his family spend two to three weeks every summer.
Rain Down Global Missions
How did you connect with the Dominican Republic?
I had gone on mission trips to Guyana, Alaska, and Seattle with Baptist Student Union while in college. I began to understand cross-cultural missions better when I actually worked for the BSU after college. I began to have a heart for people who not only didn’t know God, but they didn’t have an opportunity to know Him.
I had become a pastor at this time. I prayed, “God give me the opportunity to introduce my people to cross-cultural missions.” I had learned that God doesn’t just use us in places; He uses places in us.
A buddy of mine went to the Dominican Republic. I just called him up and asked what he was doing there. He said, “I’m looking for pastors, and I want to see how we can encourage them. We haven’t found any.” There weren’t any theologically sound churches where he was.
I said, “Let me just take a trip down there; let me see what’s going on. I took seven people with me. We were praying, “God show us something. Show us where you are working on the island.” I took off, and the last text I got from my buddy said, “You’re going to have a taxi driver. You’re not going to have a translator.” I didn’t even tell my team we didn’t have a translator. We just landed and said that God was going to work this out some way.
I didn’t even tell my team we didn’t have a translator.
We land, and I ask the taxi driver if he knows a translator. In his broken English, he said, “Maybe tomorrow.” Well, what that meant was he didn’t have one. The next day, our taxi driver shows up and he’s an amazing man, a believer. His name is Wonder, and he has become a dear friend of ours, but he shows up with this tall, skinny Dominican kid named Lewis–barely speaks English. He said, “I will do my best for you. I will try.”
I said, “You’re what we’ve got right now. Let’s try this.”
We sat down for lunch that day and I said, “Lewis, this is why I’m here. I want to find out what God’s doing here. I want to know if there are any pastors; I want to know if there are any pastors anywhere.”
He said, “PJ, I work with pastor. When do you want to get started?”
So we go meet with Julio Caesar, and he’s a pastor there in Friusa. It’s a transient Haitian community in the eastern part of the Dominican Republic. He’s a Pentecostal pastor who loves Jesus, loves the Word. He has been a catalyst for us in allowing us to even work with and find other Baptist pastors and churches there. Through that, we were contacted by the Dominican Baptist Convention’s Ethic Ministry leader named Wilford. He said that they had about five churches in all the east. He wants to plant like fifty in the next four years.
One of the pastors was this twenty-five-year old guy. The pastor of his church had died. They looked at him and said, “Now, you’re the pastor.”
When I asked how I could help, they said, “Don’t leave. Stay here and teach us.”
What do you do in the Dominican Republic now?
Not because there’s anything special about me, but I knew I had what it took to help those guys. Now, I go two or three times a year. We work through Wilfred, through the Dominican Baptist Convention. We’ll do pastors’ conferences, big gatherings of the pastors and their key leaders. It’s a time of encouragement where we get all the pastors from the whole (country) for a whole day.
Then, we do pastor training. We walk through the Word for two days and call for church planters for these remote areas. We have churches from the States that come alongside these churches and give them training and give them credibility, and then they disappear. They help the pastors get these things going–every one of these places has a school and and orphanage–so that they don’t need Americans to come in and take care of them.
About Al Ainsworth
Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell. Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel (and 52 Other Re-Told Childhood Tales), Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and Coach Dave: Season One. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.