It was one of the quickest answers to prayer Elisa had ever seen.
As lay leaders in the church, Elisa and her husband, Ramón, were expected to attend the first-ever missions’ conference hosted by Ministerios Bendición in April. They went to the conference, but they didn’t anticipate where God might take them next.
Ministerios Bendición, based in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is the umbrella under which a network of churches and compassion ministries resides. As part of the 25th anniversary celebration of their first church, the pastoral staff of Ministerios Bendición (with the help of EFCA ReachGlobal Latin America missionaries Clyde and Rebecca) put together a three-day church planting seminar and missions’ conference.
Evidence of God
Sunday morning, the last day, keynote speaker Rick Lowe (Wayside Chapel, Texas) preached a sermon on missions.
“God called us all to be the light of the world,” Rick says. “I wanted to encourage the congregation to think beyond themselves.”
Elisa and Ramón had already been part of the previous two evenings’ activities, and Elisa kept feeling that God was tugging at her heart. Towards the end of the Sunday morning service, she began silently praying to God, asking Him if they should serve outside of their country. She knew she felt called by God — but did Ramón feel the same way?
“It wasn’t until the end of the service that Rick approached my husband and [told him] that he had felt God speak to him about the possibility of [Ramón] accompanying them to Guatemala,” Elisa says. “And hearing this was when it confirmed to me that what I had been praying moments before was from God.”
Ramón, a dental surgeon, would be a great addition to the dental ministry team Wayside Chapel is preparing to send to Guatemala for a week in November. Although Ramón has used his profession to minister to others in the Dominican Republic, this trip would be his first international mission trip.
Elisa, an accomplished architect, is eager to travel, fascinated by cities and their varying architecture.
“We had always asked God to use us,” she says. Like Ramón, Elisa has often used her professional skills to serve the local community. “I believe that it wasn’t until now that we thought of going outside of our home country. [The teachings] challenged us to be light to others.”
A previous life-changing miracle
Elisa received her quickest answer to prayer that Sunday morning when she saw God work in Ramón’s heart just minutes after she prayed. However, it wasn’t the most miraculous answer to prayer she and Ramón had ever experienced.
After graduating from high school, Elisa was given the opportunity — through a private loan program — to study architecture in a private university in the Dominican Republic. After graduation, paying back the loan seemed daunting, almost impossible.
“The salaries in this country, even if you are a professional, are very, very low,” Elisa explains. “With my first job I only earned 3,000 RD ($80) a month and I had to pay 5,000 RD ($130) just from the university loan.”
God provided a second side job which allowed Elisa to make ends meet for a few months. However, the earnings from that contract job would not take care of the entire debt, and Elisa soon would face the same shortage of funds as before.
At the time, she and Ramón were just dating. Though Ramón was not yet a Christian, he occasionally attended church with Elisa. One Sunday, as the church collected a special offering, Elisa knew God was telling her to give her tithe to the church.
“[Ramón] couldn’t believe that I was going to give that money,” Elisa says. “He knew what my situation was. But in that same moment, the plate passed and I obediently and painlessly put [the money] in… He literally wanted to kill me.”
Thursday of that same week, Elisa received a call that changed her life — and Ramón’s. She was one of two students chosen at random to have her full debt (350,000 RD) forgiven by the institution that had loaned her the money.
“I just cried and cried,” she says.
In response to that miracle, Ramón put his faith in Christ — as did her parents and two younger sisters.
“[Ramón] learned to tithe in the most genuine way,” Elisa says. “And for me, it’s impossible not to serve God. Since then, I have asked God that He give me the privilege of using the profession He gave me to do His work.”
Faith for the future
Now, 18 years later, their lives really may be changing again.
As they consider short-term missions opportunities and even the possibility of long-term service, finances remain a bit of a concern. However, they have seen God work miracles before.
“God is moving us and we are ready,” Elisa says. “And we are confident that He that began the good work will be faithful to complete it.”
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- For Elisa and Ramón as they continue to pursue missions and seek the call of God for their lives.
- For Ministerios Bendición as it looks to instill missions as a value in its churches. May the church members catch the vision for serving their community and the world.