“Thank you for being the trunk of a tree that sustains so many branches—being mindful of needs in so many different places,” wrote Ruth from the Dominican Republic, mother of five and Director of the school in the village of Hatillo.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shattered life in the Dominican Republic. Abruptly, quarantine was strictly enforced with jail time, as 90% of individuals lost their jobs. Although Americans have experienced anxiety and loss due to the pandemic, it doesn’t compare with the terror of impending starvation.
How do we minister to 299 sponsored children who are quarantined in their homes, disbursed throughout the island? STCH Ministries swiftly mobilized to address their emotional and spiritual needs, as well as the interrupted education of the children. The Dominican team, led by Rebeca Dinzey, began an innovative approach to meet this need. As a condition of their scholarship, our 25 CLEP college students “give back” 10 hours per month in support of younger Samuel’s Fund kids. Promptly, each college student was assigned 2-3 Samuel’s Fund children. They now call them once a week, ask about their individual situations, pray and share a scripture with them and help them with homework received over the internet or the WhatsApp platform. When one CLEP student, Vladimir, discovered a family who couldn’t afford internet, he began paying for this service himself! CLEP students send weekly reports:
“We have begun reading a chapter each week of James, and I call them the next week and quiz them. They enjoy our visits.”
“I video chat with my students. We talk about their homework. I encourage their mother because she is very overwhelmed.”
“My student says she is not a Christian because she is afraid of God. I am helping her understand how to have a relationship with Him.”
Through the generous support from many individuals to date, we have received $16,710. STCH Ministries also began to meet the physical needs of food for the children and their families. Our concern also included the ladies who cook and care for our mission teams, the teachers in our Christian schools and the orphanages. We quickly contacted the Bravo grocery chain and purchased palettes of 9 basic food items—milk, rice, beans, sugar, oatmeal and spaghetti, oil, cornmeal and tomato paste.
Russell has directed the team in the logistics of this effort. He hired 2 trucks. He re-purposed our team lodging, Koinonia house to store the food, and organize into smaller packets for each family. Dr. Francisco supervised and guided the delivery process to ensure safety and health for everyone. Rebeca, Valentina and Maria identified and called the neediest families, “We have a packet of food for you!” Assigned a date and time, they came for pick up at the IBQ compound. As the packets of food are delivered, time is spent with each one, reflecting on God’s promises, and praying for their families. We anticipate we will deplete this food in 4-5 weeks.
Ruth’s reference of a tree with branches was a beautiful analogy of STCH Ministries. Rooted in God’s promises to supply ALL of our needs, our “branches” continue to support children and families–providing Christian counseling, homes for children and families, pastoral ministry, classes on the impact of faith on finances and work, in addition to the work in the Dominican Republic. During this pandemic, the ministry continues.
Vice President of Family and International Ministries