IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, north of the capital city of Santo Domingo, over 900 congregants meet at the Quisqueyana Baptist Church each Sunday and celebrate their risen Lord with joyful songs of praise. During the Bible study hour, the hard, wooden benches are circled into individual classes. Although the cacophony of voices would deafen American ears, they have learned to focus on the voices of their teachers. Together, they learn and grow as disciples. Their pastor, Jacinto de la Cruz (Rudy), lives close by in a beautiful two-story home, while additional buildings on the property provide a large kitchen and dining room, plus the Children’s Ministry Building, a three-story educational facility.
It was not always that way. Rudy has known defeat and deprivation, trusting God for daily bread. At one time, he lived with his family of four in one room of a wooden chapel, without water or a bathroom. Surrounded by these difficult circumstances, perhaps ridiculed by peers, he founded the Quisqueyana Baptist Church (IBQ) in 1998.
In 2006, a family connection with pioneer Baptist work which originally began in 1947, led STCH Ministries to this location. Since that time, the ministry of Pastor Rudy, the IBQ church and STCH Ministries have woven their common vision into a heart-tapestry of ministries to give children hope and a future. Motivated by his own life experiences, Pastor Rudy believes that today’s children soon become tomorrow’s young people and the adult leaders of the future.
He was only eight years old, the oldest of eleven children, living near the village of Hato Mayor, when he heard the Good News and accepted Christ, by faith, into his life. The only Christian in his family, he matured quickly and at the age of twelve, began teaching children’s Bible classes. He also took clarinet lessons, foreshadowing the impact of music on his future. By the time he graduated from high school, Rudy knew that God was calling him to full-time service. Leaving behind a future in business, he enrolled in a small Bible school founded by missionaries. In 1974, he was one of six students in his class to graduate. A year later he married Patria, who became his lifelong partner and staunchest ally in the ministry. God blessed them with two sons, Lemuel and Eliel.
After planting Hato Mayor, Rudy went on to develop and establish numerous churches throughout the southeastern part of the island — San Pedro de Macoris, Consuelo, La Romana, Bani and Cerros de Buena Vista, to name a few. With other co-laborers, he also founded the largest Baptist school on the island at that time.
After 14 years of ministry experience, he began the IBQ church with a specific vision:
1. Sharing the Gospel, beginning with children, and completing their families in Christ
2. Discipling believers
3. Preparing both men and women to carry on the work of the Kingdom, to hear and answer the call with, “Here am I. I will go.”
Pastor Rudy reflected, “I believe that my greatest strength is faith. I have been told that I am like Abraham because he obeyed, not knowing the future. I have observed that there are two kinds of faith: active and passive. Active faith takes action even when there is much that cannot be seen and known. Passive faith sits around and says, ‘I have faith,’ but until they can see and hold, they will not move forward.”
Earlier experiences in ministry had left Rudy wounded but still determined to pursue his calling. He began with an active outreach, visiting with people personally, door-to-door, sharing the Gospel. The work was slow and difficult. He held on to the promise, “With God, nothing is impossible.” God honored these faith steps and at this critical juncture, TIME missionaries Zeral and Dorretta Brown returned in 1992 to the Dominican Republic. Brown said, “Come on, let’s get to work.” They purchased undeveloped land on a credit card and joined the ministries of IBQ and TIME in their common calling to spread the Gospel. To this day, TIME continues constructing portable chapels and enabling church plants throughout the country.
Faithful to pursuing God’s vision to prepare men and women to serve, Rudy began the Berean Bible Institute in 1996 with a small class of seven adults, reminiscent of his own seemingly insignificant beginnings. It is an arduous commitment for four years, three hours every Sunday afternoon, before celebrating a graduation ceremony in full-scale regalia. Only then are the next class of students signed up. A total of 132 laborers for the Kingdom have graduated. The majority actively serve God either in IBQ or pastor their own ministries in various locations, as far away as Haiti.
In a recent interview, we asked Pastor Rudy about various aspects of the relationship between STCH Ministries and the IBQ church.
“For me, personally, STCH Ministries is a door that God opened in 2006 to spread the name of Christ and enlarge our ability to meet the needs of our growing congregation and the surrounding community. The benefits we have received are multiple.”
Rudy went on to explain that STCH Ministries methods coincide with the IBQ calling and vision. “They work by faith and seek to identify the needs of the local congregations and assist to find solutions. They use the resources that God has given them to share with the needy. For me, STCH Ministries is an example of love, servanthood and courage, as they leave behind the comforts of home for the purpose of serving Christ.” He continued, “I want to testify that if more groups were like STCH Ministries, we would have greater support to fulfill the Great Commission, spreading the Gospel throughout the world.”
In what specific ways has STCH Ministries amplified the ministry of IBQ church?
“They not only share the Word of God but also demonstrate the heart of Christ for His children in the midst of difficult circumstances, support outreach efforts like VBS classes, provide clothes, food and occasionally even toys, enable ministry to orphans—constructing facilities, providing beds, food and school supplies, as well as repairing and replacing dilapidated housing for families.
They have provided resources for our church like a desperately needed generator, and the construction of the Children’s Ministry Building.
They expand our outreach to the community through medical and dental services for individuals both within and outside of the church body, and beyond to other churches and schools.
Of special importance is the Samuel’s Fund sponsorship of our children, and the university scholarships provided by CLEP (Christian Leadership Educational Program). Hundreds of our children and young people have benefited from la mano amiga (the hand of a friend) to receive an education. Tutoring, ESL classes, teacher workshops and counseling for parents from STCH Ministries partners all assist children to realize God’s dream for their lives.”
On a personal level as a pastor, how does God meet your needs?
“My wife, Patria, is often my motor. God uses her to lift me up and remind me of who God is and His calling on my life.
STCH Ministries mission teams refresh me and my people, like wells in the desert. I remember one group who came in September 2021, towards the end of Covid. We were exhausted and discouraged, as rumors and fears swirled around our whole community. We couldn’t believe that a group would come during this chaotic period! Their example of love and courage lifted and renewed our spirits.
I also find encouragement from many pastors who accompany their groups. They support and renew our vision. They help to increase my faith through their messages. Many also share through the pastors’ conferences that STCH Ministries sponsors. I hear different perspectives and learn from others. We also discuss our common struggles and receive understanding and affirmation from our common bond.”
Pastors John Hall from Field Street Baptist Church in Cleburne, Brian Hill from First Baptist Church in Corpus Christi and Matt Singleton from FBC Kenedy shared their experiences.
“Pastor Rudy has a genuine love for God and for people. He carefully preaches and teaches the Word of God. He has invested himself in the men of his church, intentionally and systematically discipling them to continue the work of ministry within and outside the church. IBQ church experiences vibrant music and worship services on the Lord’s Day. This is a reflection in part of Pastor Rudy’s personality and energy. Pastor Rudy has persevered through some excruciatingly difficult times. It is uncommon for any pastor not to face adversity. Pastor Rudy has walked through a number of those times and remains filled with joy.” – John Hall
“I met Pastor Rudy for the first time in January of 2016. I remember vividly how impressed I was with his humble demeanor combined with a deep sense of calling and vision for God’s movement. That encounter birthed a friendship and brotherhood that has grown through the years. I am blessed to have the opportunity to know him and work with him in ministry.” – Brian Hill
“His warmth overcame any language barrier. God has used him mightily not only to share the gospel but also to disciple men and women for ministry. I am so grateful for the many ways Pastor Rudy has blessed me and my congregation.” – Matt Singleton
When asked what the most challenging part of pastoring people is, Pastor Rudy responded, “The most difficult part of serving God as a pastor, painful personally, is the lack of gratitude from some who abandon the work, lacking appreciation for all of the time invested in them.”
The majority of church members echo Maria Luisa who expressed, “I’m a single mom and he has always loved my son. Pastor Rudy and the IBQ church have changed my entire neighborhood of Los Almendros, who have come to know Christ through his influence and testimony. He never seems to get tired.”
Russell Jerez, deacon and leader at the church shared, “I met Pastor Rudy when I was 17 years old. It became clear to me that I wanted to emulate the kind of leadership Pastor Rudy was showing. He became the father figure I was lacking, mentored me and helped me with anger management. Who I am is due in large part to the influence he has had in my life. When we were going to have our third kid, we needed to move out of our house because of mold. Pastor Rudy helped us for over a year to pay rent for the new place. That is only one example of how caring and loving he has been to me and my family.”
We concluded the interview with the question, “What is your goal for the future?”
“My greatest desire is that God grants me the health to be able to keep on preaching until He calls me Home. And my dream, si Dios lo permite (if God permits), is to leave behind a comfortable auditorium with air conditioning that will reach many more souls for His Kingdom.”
STCH Ministries is forever thankful for the partnership with Pastor Rudy and IBQ. Will you join us in praying for the continued work God is doing in the Dominican Republic? For more information about STCH Ministries International and mission trips to the Dominican Republic and El Salvador visit, www.STCHM.org/international.