Category: Help Out

“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!

Catalyst for Connection

Catalyst for Connection

Tomorrow I will turn 45 and it will be a good day, but do you know what would make it EVEN better?

Wait. This is a little awkward. We don’t know each other that well perhaps or maybe even not at all so it would be forward and quite presumptuous of me to make a gift suggestion or request. Don’t worry, I wasn’t thinking of putting a link to Amazon on here – que rudo! Honestly, I really don’t want to call attention to my birthday, but will you humor me for just a minute more? 

I have the privilege of being the Sponsorship Director at Doulos which means that I am a catalyst for connection, fitting students who need sponsors with a willing person who can provide the monthly tuition in all ($150 per month) or in part ($75 per month) for them to attend Doulos. Then, I get to witness impactful relationships unfold over the ocean and sometimes even here on the Doulos campus between students and their sponsors. It really is very exciting because our God is a god of connection. He is the ultimate CONNECTOR!

So . . . do you know what would make my birthday EVEN better tomorrow? Well, since you asked *wink*wink* . . . .

Last fall we did a sponsorship campaign, and many new sponsors came forward. However, there are still three students who need their first sponsor, and 24 students who need a shared sponsor ($75 a month). I would LOVE to see the number of students that need sponsors go down (and incidentally, my work load go up – Happy Birthday to me!) because that many new sponsors came forward 🙂 Sponsoring a student is as much a gift to the sponsor as it is to the student and their family, so this really isn’t about me at all, it’s about YOU.

Join in on the gift of relationship + an excellent education for someone who would otherwise not have this opportunity!

Student Sponsorship
Per Month
$75
100% Giving Model
Personal communication with child & family
High-quality Christian education
School materials
Sponsor A Student
Class Sponsorship
Per Month
$50
100% Giving Model
Monthly updates from Doulos
Letters & videos from class
Provides materials for entire class
Visit class
Sponsor A Class

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!

Sponsorship Paves a Road to a Diploma

“Our hope in sponsoring a Doulos student is that we can walk alongside our student over the years and celebrate together on graduation day!”

—Kathy P., current sponsor

Albert likes hanging out with his sponsors.
There is much to be said about the joy and sacrifice of sponsoring a student through Doulos, but today we are going to focus on the finish line, whether it is far away or on the horizon. For the Plankenhorn family, their sponsored student is currently in first grade, and he won’t graduate until 2029.

While 2029 may seem like a long way off, Albert will be wearing a cap and gown in the blink of an eye, and Lord willing, Kathy and Trevor and their family, will be in the audience smiling proudly, celebrating with giddy excitement at the achievement that they helped accomplish by saying “YES!” to sponsorship so many years prior.

Right now, the Plankenhorns have a macro-view of sponsorship at Doulos because they live, love, serve here, and they’ve had a great chance to get to know Albert and his family and invest in relationship with them. It may not always be the case that they have such a “close up” opportunity like they have right now. Knowing them, however, and their commitment to Albert, no amount of distance will prevent them from continuing on in encouraging and supporting Albert’s education. After all, they are already planning to celebrate together at the Graduation Ceremony 2029!

The Plankenhorns desire to follow in the footsteps of legendary sponsors who started investing in relationship with their student when they very young all the way until they received their diploma. Regardless of whether or not a sponsor started from the very beginning or came into the picture later with an older student, we are grateful that sponsorship is something that we can celebrate together! A big “MUCHAS GRACIAS” to all those who give towards sponsorship from all of us at Doulos!

Heart Too Big

“We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children
that makes the heart too big for the body.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, yes! We get it! Here at Doulos our hearts are overflowing because God has entrusted us not just with the education of our students, but more importantly their tender hearts. Discipleship is woven into the fabric of what we do at Doulos – into the academics, the events and the activities – people walking alongside people in pursuit of Christ is evident all around. There is the powerful combination of love + intention at Doulos, combined with the LOVE of Christ that is threaded throughout, which has the power to transform a country from the inside out. If you’ve been here, you’ve seen the glimmer and sparkle of kids thriving in a creative, challenging, loving environments that both grounds their feet and lights a fire in their minds. It is invigorating to delight in the beauty and happiness of children!

We would love for your heart to swell outside of its bodily boundary by partnering with us through sponsorship! It is an amazing way to participate and delight in children we pray will grow spiritually, academically, physically and mentally for the glory of the Kingdom of God!

For more information about sponsoring a student, email rachel.sawyer@doulosdiscovery.org or you can go directly to the give link and sign up now! Everyone can help someone!