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“Joining Jesus” in the Doulos Sponsorship Program

One Family’s Experience in Relationship Building

We began sponsoring Doulos students in 2013 when we moved to a church in Minnesota where there was a partnership with Doulos. I was first drawn to this partnership with a school in the DR simply because my second language is Spanish. Then, as I learned more about Doulos Discovery School, especially the mission, and met people who were directly involved in the school/ministry, I knew I wanted to “join Jesus” in what He was doing in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic.

There are so many ways we can join Jesus on His mission to restore all people to a right relationship with God. One way, of course, is being a good steward of the finances He has given us. In the U.S., we often find ourselves easily giving money to help feed and clothe the world. And we are called to do that. But we can’t stop there! Those are the basics – the ones that tug at our hearts because we don’t want to see anyone live without food, water, clothes, and shelter. It makes us feel good when we give in this way. But joining Jesus on His mission is more than that. It includes developing relationships and, within those relationships, encouraging one another in the Spirit.

Busch Family Sponsor Student, Andry (wearing red)

When we first started sponsoring Doulos students, I was not thinking about “developing relationships.” I simply loved the mission of the school—and that this was a long-term commitment to helping not only individuals, but, ultimately, an entire nation (one person at a time!). The school values of Christian discipleship, expeditionary learning, and mixed economic student body (along with the amazing dedication and passion of the school staff!) plant “seeds” in these Doulos kids – and their families – that God waters. The Doulos graduates that I know (and I have developed a relationship with) are rich in the fruit of the Spirit! They are blessings to the Dominican Republic and will continue to positively impact their country. (I should mention that we as a family – my husband, 2 kids, and I – decided to not only be sponsors of Doulos kids, but also to be missionaries working for a year on the Doulos campus. This gave us a great opportunity to really develop relationships with some of these kids and their families and to experience, first hand, the dedicated staff.)

So, though developing relationships was not my initial intention when we started sponsoring students, I have come to see the great value in them. We can encourage each other and build each other up as we join Jesus in His mission to restore this broken world. Sponsoring Doulos students is a part of this great mission!

Love from Minnesota!

Michelle, Randy, Benjamin, and Caroline Busch

An Impact that Redeems

Businesses, churches, and organizations of all kinds want you to know the reasons why they exist, and what they are committed to doing. We call these declarations, “Mission Statements.”
These short paragraphs attempt to distill a pure essence describing the key purposes and functions of an organization. In creating such a statement, one would want to avoid inclusion of “buzz words” that can sound disingenuous. Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip, Dilbert, has made a stock-in-trade of lampooning that kind of “corporate speak.”

There is actually a “Mission Statement Generator” online that hilariously exploits such cliché jargon.
After randomly choosing from a list of phrases including Opener + Adverb + Verb + Adjective + Noun + Conjunctive + Closer, we were able to produce this little gem:

“It is our mission to holisticly leverage existing functionalized paradigms in order that we may continue to exceed customer expectations.”

Inspiring, isn’t it?

In all seriousness, it will likely not surprise you to learn that we too have a Mission Statement. Ours states that we are involved in…

“Educating and equipping servant leaders through Christian discipleship and expeditionary learning to impact the Dominican Republic”

Our website unpacks the words and phrases we used in our Mission Statement. We define what is meant by “Educating and Equipping.” We define a “Servant Leader” and “Christian Discipleship.” Finally, we explain what is meant when we say that we intend “to impact the Dominican Republic.”

“Impact” is a useful word. However, the dictionary’s first definition is: “to come into forcible contact with another object.” Uh,… no. We like the second definition: “to have a strong effect on someone or something.” Specifically, our website explains that our intended impact is to “empower students to become the future revolutionary leaders of the Dominican Republic.”

Another way of putting it is that we want to see the Dominican Republic changed from the inside out. We don’t seek change for it’s own sake. We seek a specific kind of change—a specific kind of revolutionary. In a word, we are seeking redemptive transformation.

The story throughout all the Bible is one of Redemption. Paradise lost. Paradise regained. Redeemed. The well-known story of “The Prodigal Son” depicts a tragic waste of a life and a fortune, only to be redeemed in the end by a generous and forgiving father. Hebrew Law made provision for a dead man’s estate to be bought by a relative, redeeming his name and his household. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, came to redeem fallen humanity, purchasing her at the expense of his own blood, to restore what was lost—to redeem it. The Servant Leaders we would see raised up through Doulos Discovery School can only be revolutionary insofar as they themselves have been revolutionized by Jesus! They cannot hope to effect redemptive change in their country without themselves being redemptively changed!

The Dominican Republic is a beautiful country, rich in resources, and full of still greater potential. The impediments to realizing her promise lie not in outward threats but in matters of her heart. The political, social, and spiritual forces that waste, corrupt, exploit, marginalize, and oppress, spring from individual hearts in need of a redemptive work. The restorative work of God makes a person courageously love, bless, invest, build, benefit, share, and include. Such revolutionaries in positions of influence will effect redemptive changes. This kind of change is only wrought by God through the transformative work of His own power. This kind of change has a real impact—a Redemptive Impact.

Redemptive Impact

Intervening for a

Redemptive Impact

Doulos was blessed to receive a visit from Denise Weiss-Salinas, an Occupational Therapist who was able to observe and consult for the benefit of several of our developmentally delayed students. She spent time in the classroom and in a family home, shedding light on remedial strategies for improving our intervention understanding and efforts.

Much of what love means, is the willingness to intercede for the benefit of others. Helpless people can sometimes be hopeless people who need an advocate. In accordance with the mission statement of Doulos Discovery School, the ultimate purpose of our work here is “to impact the Dominican Republic”.

“Educating and equipping servant leaders through
Christian discipleship and expeditionary learning to
impact the Dominican Republic

But just what is the nature of that intended impact? It’s suggested by our desire to see Servant Leaders raised up. It’s explained in our desire to inculcate Christian values, teachings, and a Biblical worldview. But what is our desired outcome? What kind of impact do we hope and pray for? In a word: Redemptive. Change isn’t good merely for it’s own sake. Redemptive change is our goal! Just as, in Christ, God redemptively impacted a fallen world, we seek to intervene to improve what already works, to restore what was broken, to rebuild what’s been damaged, to give hope for despair.

Accordingly, we seek to lovingly intervene in dysfunctional systems and people. As the Redeemer did, we “put skin in the game” and interpose solely for the benefit of the loved one, and for the glory of God.

Low test scores, speech pathologies, and other perceptual impediments, can appear to be a permanent condition. But they are not always so! At times we can help parents discover that their child is only suffering from a learning delay that may be treated and resolved. Often the help that’s provided is as much for the benefit of giving hope to disappointed parents, as for the child. Families can be made aware of resources that hold the promise of redeeming a situation with their child that had appeared to be an insurmountable challenge.

We are grateful to Denise, who came in the company of her carpenter son, Hezekiah, whose energetic help was a redemptive work of it’s own on our campus!

Study Abroad Produces Better Leaders

Study Abroad Produces Better Leaders

(left to right) Yasli Pañalo, DR, Addie Douglas, OH, Mayelin Calderon, DR, Tammy Griffin, Director, Brian Rodriguez, DR, Keyrol Balbuena, DR, and Maggie Gaddess, PA

Doulos Discovery School is excited about it’s Study Abroad program!

Participating students profit in many ways from their experience abroad. They often experience spiritual growth and a broadened worldview. Additionally, immersion in another culture helps to master the intricacies of the host language, be it English or Spanish. This is good preparation for our students who may apply for jobs, colleges, and universities in the U.S.

God uses this time to stretch and grow our students as a “next step” in their Christian discipleship.
They will gain new perspectives on what it takes to impact the Dominican Republic. Our visiting U.S. students will also gain new perspectives on their own country.

Presently, Doulos has two partner Christian schools in the U.S. with which students have the opportunity to study abroad. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA) is located in Cuyahoga Valley, OH, and Athens Christian School is located in Athens, GA.

Every year Doulos receives 2-3 students and sends 3-4 to our partner schools.
It’s true that this is not many students, but it is an optimal number, given the size of our schools and the fact that Dominican families may have greater difficulty obtaining funding for their student.

To make these exchanges possible, our partner schools and donors invest in the lives of particular students.
This is a great way for donors to invest in missions in a really personal way. It brings the “mission field” to you!

In order to help our students be successful, we encourage you to partner with them in their vision for the future. Participate in what God is doing in and through these students. Perhaps you might pray for them? Pray for their continued health and safety and for their relationships with Christ. You may make contributions in a student’s name on our website at doulosministries.us.

We find that Study Abroad is mutually beneficial for all participating students. It’s a symbiotic relationship that can make our students more compassionate, more understanding, and more adaptable. Study Abroad produces better leaders.

Below, watch David, one of our Doulos Study Abroad students, sledding for the first time!

Why Doulos?

Our Mission and Vision is Unique

“Educating and equipping servant leaders through Christian discipleship
and expeditionary learning to impact the Dominican Republic”

 

There’s something you should know about Doulos.
It’s something that, as far as we know, no other school in the Dominican Republic can say.

There are many vital mission efforts going on all over the island, and we thank God for all of them.

There are several mission schools offering Christian education to their students.

There are a few schools which have attained college preparatory accreditation.

There are some schools that get out of the classroom and teach by going and doing, researching and reporting.

There are schools offering education to families that could not otherwise afford it.

But there is only ONE school that does ALL of these things: Doulos Discovery School!

Obviously, it takes ample resources and a great staff to achieve all this.
If we were a school that relied on tuition alone, we would be, like most, able to offer education only to families that could afford it. We would pay our teachers from the tuition revenue we receive from our students’ families, along with, perhaps, donations received from generous supporters.

Doulos, too, relies on a Sponsorship Program. As much as we depend on that source of support, there is something else that we do that makes us unique and makes it possible for us to draw 52% of our student body from families that otherwise could not afford it!

This is why every one of our North American missionary staff prayerfully partners with donors to raise their own financial support. This, along with Student Sponsorship, directly relieves the financial burden from our students’ families. You might say that the sacrifice our staff is willing to make directly translates to a high-quality education for many families which, otherwise, would have no hope for such a thing. In fact, for every one student who is supported by sponsorship donations alone, we are able to educate three students! God, is, of course, faithful to deliver on what He calls us to, and we have a lot of experience helping our staff with fund-raising.

Consequently, Doulos Discovery School is a diverse community of blended race, nationality, and socio-economic status.

When our prospective teachers and staff ask… “Why do we need to raise our own support?” we are happy to reply! Our name is “Doulos”, which means “bondservant.” It’s what Jesus and St. Paul, and countless others called themselves. As servant leaders we seek to raise up servant leaders. We gladly sacrifice to make it possible to find that servant leader whether they be from a prosperous family or from out of poverty.

Our staff could choose to take a job and draw a paycheck. But, by choosing to involve supporters with us in this mission, they continue to ensure that a high-quality, Christian, dual accredited, bilingual, expeditionary learning education is offered, even “to the least of these.”

Download our brochure entitled: Why Doulos?

See all our open positions at Doulos.

Cross-Cultural Relationship Building

Cross-Cultural Relationship Building

Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA) has had reciprocal study abroad program with Doulos Discovery School since 2012, when Doulos Founder Krista Wallace invited us into a relationship with them. My daughter, Anginette Fullerton, was the first CVCA student to take her up on her offer. Anginette came immediately after High School graduation as an intern in Doulos’ Kindergarten class. Her time here dynamically changed her, and in turn, changed me too. I became a member of Doulos’ Board three years ago after falling in love with the ministry here through Anginette’s experience.

CVCA has also sent three work teams to Doulos in that time. Our goal for our team trip this year has been relationship building in a cross-cultural context. Some work teams at Doulos focus exclusively on building up the physical structures. Our focus has been building relationships between the students at CVCA and Doulos, between Americans and Dominicans, and between brothers and sisters in Christ. By focusing our hearts and minds intentionally on attitudes of openness, acceptance, trust, learning, and understanding, we hope to serve EACH OTHER both now and in the future.

Our team of included 6 girls (one of whom will stay as a study abroad student at Doulos this semester) and two adults. The girls started each day with students their own age, being welcomed into the community and learning in classrooms that are both very different and very similar to their own at CVCA. Then we focused on building relationships with the rest of the student community by volunteering in classrooms.

As a result, the buzz of conversations and bursts of laughter have increased exponentially as the days have passed. As leaders, Anginette, and I have enjoyed watching the relationships blossom before our eyes. The girls are sharing this cross-cultural experience and that has bonded them in friendships that would not have formed otherwise. God is here and I know that He has given us this Divine appointment to join Him in relationship-building at Doulos.

One of those Divine appointments was with a member of our team, Sha’Nautica Lott, and a little boy in Kindergarten, named Caleb. Sha’Nautica comes from a very difficult background herself. But her intelligence and promise captured the notice of one of CVCA’s board members. Through scholarships and that board member’s sponsorship, Sha’Nautica started attending CVCA this year. That same sponsor encouraged her to come to the Dominican Republic on our team. From the moment that Sha’Nautica noticed Caleb, she recognized a boy full of energy who just needed someone to come alongside him and encourage him to focus and obey. An instant friendship was formed. All week, Sha’Nautica and Caleb could be seen together, working in the classroom, playing on the playground, walking to lunch, meeting his parents. This precious little boy gave Sha’Nautica an opportunity to give back some of what she had been given through God’s grace.

Lives were changed on both sides, and because of her time with Caleb, Sha’Nautica now feels called to become a teacher. Education is a powerful thing, but the relationships formed across cultures, and generations, and countries, and miles, are what change us at our deepest core. Sha’Nautica’s relationship with Caleb will spark many more like it as she is now determined to go to college and prepare for what God is calling her to.

Doulos is a place where all of us can serve, and develop the promise of leadership here in the Dominican Republic and around the world.

Mindy Fullerton

Doulos Board Member and Director of Admissions at CVCA

Joy to the World!

The highest experience of well-being is joy. It is deep, exhilarating happiness independent of circumstance. It’s what the heavenly messenger said was coming to the earth in a poor man’s manger.

“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” -Luke 2:10b

Joy is sometimes depicted in the Bible as a calf released from it’s stall, kicking up it’s heels. We see it in the giddy exclamations of leaping lame, seeing blind men, hearing deaf, and in the shouts of the mute. An astonishing reversal, and amazing change-of-fortune is the stuff of this kind of joy!

Everyone likes a “rags-to-riches” story. It’s a theme of classic literature, a topic for many self-help books and motivational speakers, and the reason why people continue to buy lottery tickets. Regardless of political systems, it is an economic fact-of-life that every generation will have its poor.

Jesus said “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.”– Mark 14:7

Many efforts are mounted to eliminate poverty, and there is a great difference-of-opinion regarding how best to achieve this noble end. The Bible has a lot to say about being generous and helping the poor. Helping those less fortunate has always been seen as a sign of righteousness and personal character.

The Bible, however, contains many interesting “paradoxical” opposites that sometimes confound our understanding. By way of example, according to scripture we must win by surrendering, be humble to be exalted, live by dying and be first by being last. Jesus also said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(Matt. 5:3)

In this “The Sermon on the Mount” Jesus calls mourners happy, the hungry, full, the persecuted as rulers, and the poor as,… rich?

Inaugurating his ministry in His hometown, Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 and said about himself that he had come with a message of Good News—specifically for the brokenhearted, the captive, the mourners, the despairing,… and the poor.

When we have plenty and all is well, we may take our ease, luxuriate, lean on those resources, guard them warily and try to build them up. We can then become self-sufficient and have an exaggerated sense of our own importance, becoming out-of-touch with real need. We can close and harden our hearts to those who still experience it. Perhaps this is why Jesus said:

“it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Matt. 19:23)

The poor, by contrast are under no such delusions wrought by “the deceitfulness of wealth” (Mt.13:22, Mk. 4:19)
Philip Yancey, in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew, said,

“…When the poor have the gospel preached to them, it sounds like good news and not like a threat or scolding. The poor can respond to the call of the gospel with a certain abandonment and uncomplicated totality because they have so little to lose and are ready for anything…”

In this wonderful season of Advent, we recognize our need and anticipate together the extravagant way God is meeting that need. Be blessed. Know that you are when you believe God and trust His promises. Joy to the World!

Speaking of Hope

a message from our Executive Director

When I Think of Hope . . .
Regrets, Suffering and Hope are not usually tied together in a single sentence. Children, Christmas and Hope seem like a better combination – especially this time of year. Yet this biblical author pens these words in the midst of pain:

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

–Lamentations 3:20-24

 

When everyone is singing Christmas carols and acting like nothing is wrong, sometimes it can push me to the edge; the edge of sadness, frustration, even despair. Why? Like many people, I bear the scars from a wounded past. In turn, that has affected the ones I love. If I focus on the past, feeling the regret of time and opportunity lost, I can be brought pretty low.

As I read from Lamentations, I am reminded that the Lord is my single hope and holds my life in His hands. I can entrust Him with my pain, my regrets, and my loved ones. In His hands, all things will be made whole and new. He is a better lover of my loved ones and the caretaker of my soul.

As a child, I hoped for amazing toys but got underwear instead. As an adult, I give my hurts and desires to God. In return, I receive peace, hope and a changed character (James 1 – “Consider it pure joy when you encounter various trials…”)

My hope for you is that you’ll will believe and entrust God with your burdens. Then together in peace, we can wait with hope. We know that God’s goodness will break forth and renew us again.

Merry Christmas,

 

Bob Phelps

Executive Director