What an awesome week we had in the Dominican Republic! 8 Gateway men traveled to the DR to participate in a mission trip to teach some baseball fundamentals and more importantly to spread the gospel. We were part of a larger group (150+ “missionaries") who teamed together to put on dozens of baseball clinics all over the DR and spread the gospel. We had all levels of experience and many people associated with major league teams, all of whom loved Jesus. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the trip, but once we arrived it became very clear that the main purpose of the trip was to spread the gospel to young Dominican men and to use a common interest (baseball) to gain an audience. And wow, did God use us! I'd estimate more than 1000 young men heard the gospel and I00s of them made decisions to trust in the finished work of Christ for their salvation. Luke 15:7 tells us that there is rejoicing in heaven when a sinner is saved, and I like to imagine it might be similar to what happens when a major leaguer hits a home run to win a game. The fans erupt, there are high fives, cheering, fireworks exploding and general euphoria among the fans. I think Heaven had some serious celebrations during our trip.
On a personal note I have never felt more compelled/inspired to share the gospel than I did on the trip. 150+ people uniting and challenging each other to spread the gospel will light a fire under you to “go and preach the good news to all the world”. To help encourage/spur us on, we had little church services 2x per day. There was a worship band, several different pastors who delivered encouraging and challenging messages and many folks who gave testimonies of what God had done in their life. All of it was inspiring, from Tim Lee, the Maine veteran who had both of his legs blown off in Vietnam, to Shawn Malone, who by all accounts should have been dead from a drug overdose, to Don Gordon, MLB pitcher turned missionary who pushed us to share our experiences with each other and those in our world.
We had some longer bus rides getting to the clinic locations, and on each ride we were challenged to share our testimony with everyone else on the bus. Many of us are hesitant to share our faith, falling prey to any number of lies from Satan like we’re not good enough, don’t know enough Bible verses, your story isn’t that exciting, etc. However, every time a man made himself available to speak about who God was in their life, God used that man to speak truth and inspire others. This was a fantastic reminder that the results are up to God, it’s my (our) job to simply overcome some fears, open my mouth and speak (about Jesus).
I would encourage every Christian to go on a mission trip. It will grow you, you will be used for God’s glory, you will be reminded of how blessed you are, you will plant and water “seeds”, get to show God’s love to others and Lord willing, be part of the celebrations when people move from death to life and are saved by our Lord Jesus Christ.
To God be the Glory