Richard Brochu, Director of Luz a Las Naciones Ministries, became a Christian in 1991, through the dedicated prayers of family members and the ministry of 100 Huntley Street, Canada. Mentored and discipled by Pastor Angelo and his wife from the Malvern Christian Assembly, in Scarborough, Ontario, Richard grew in his faith. Within two years of his conversion, the Lord revealed to Richard that He was calling him as a missionary to the Dominican Republic. In a vision, Richard saw people from the Dominician going out as missionaries all over the world and this scripture,
“…I will make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49.6
Familiar with the Dominican from operating a travel agency business, Richard was well aware of the great needs of the poor in this country. He knew that although the Dominican is known as an exotic tourist destination with many beautiful resorts, that life for the poor in the barrios is full of extreme poverty and despair, sickness and oppression. So in faith, he sold his business and arrived in Puerto Plata, on the northern coast of the island, in April 1994.
With no initial support and only $300 in his pocket, he rented a small room in a boarding house in one of the barrios. His heart was for evangelism, and he began to daily walk through his new neighbourhood, telling children and their families about the love of the Lord. Four years later, the Lord impressed upon him that it was time to move from his rat-infested accommodations, and the present mission house was found available for rent. Gazing out of the bedroom window of his new home upon yet another sprawling barrio, Richard immediately felt compassion for the people living there and had a great desire to tell them about Jesus. He felt clear direction from the Lord, “This is to be your new Jerusalem.”
This new neighbourhood was the Barrio of Bello Costero, where approximately 30,000 people live crowded together in makeshift homes with very little privacy or consistent access to clean water and electricity. Among the 30,000, are at least 3,000 children. Again, Richard began to evangelize, inviting children to come to his carport and listen to Bible stories. Many children on the street were getting into mischief, stealing and prostitution. Richard had a great desire to see their lives changed through God’s Love. As the children came, he wanted them to be able to read the Word of God so that they could not only make a decision to follow Christ, but also grow, learn and become strong in their faith. Yet many children, even at 12 and 13 years of age, and having attended the local public school, still could not read or write. Others were unable to attend school due to the lack of a birth certificate. After praying for direction, Richard opened up his carport as a small literacy centre, and in his broken Spanish, began to daily teach about 35 students. With complaints from the neighbours, it became clear that Richard needed to search for a place to open up his own school.
Once again, God gave Richard direction. The school was to be in the heart of the barrio and it was to be a centre of refuge for the students. A house Richard had inquired about renting, yet was unavailable, suddenly became available and in April 2000, the Centro Cristiano el Refugio had a place to call home. In faith, Richard paid the deposit on the house and God wonderfully provided. At first, the Centre was used mainly as a drop-in for the children, with about 100 coming daily for Bible lessons and literacy. Since 2001, a more comprehensive school program was initiated. Today, 115 students attend the school, and Richard has help from some of the young men he originally evangelized, as well as some local women. The Centre is a great witness in the community and is touching the lives of many children and their families.
By Karen Maier