“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24
When I was thinking about a devotion to share, I remembered what I’d recently read in John 12. Jesus used the example of a grain of wheat to speak to an agricultural community, who He knew would understand the illustration that a small grain cannot develop into a plant unless it first goes into the cold, dark ground. If the grain of wheat was kept on a nice warm shelf – well, it would be comfortable, but never grow to eventually feed many people. I thought about how true this is with our own lives – We can stay comfortable, safe, well prepared for retirement, etc. – and then one inevitable day, life is over. Or we can trust God, die to our own ideas of how to live our lives, our own plans and dreams – and take up His – and then life begins!
20th Anniversary Celebration
A special thank you to Pastor Ginette Howse and Malvern Christian Assembly for hosting a 20th anniversary celebration of my missionary journey, my “extended six-month stay” in the DR, on Saturday, June 14th. Thank you also to Pastor Gerrie Armaly from Antioch Christian Ministries in Essex and to Pastor Don Forrest from Walkerton Pentecostal Church for your kind words and support over the years. It was good to look at all the photos on the screen, representing the years, and a special blessing to have my Canadian board pray for me … for the next 20 yrs? Many of you have supported us, come on mission trips, prayed for us, and helped promote the ministry over the years. I felt truly blessed!
Thankful for good mentoring
I will forever be thankful to the Lord for what He did for me on the cross and for completely changing my life and filling me with His Holy Spirit. Many have helped me in my spiritual journey over the years, yet I remain especially thankful to my first mentors, Pastors Angelo and Carmen Del Zotto, who were instrumental in my discipleship in those early Christian days at Malvern Christian Assembly. The Del Zottos really took me under their wing and blessed me so much. While Pastor Angelo has now gone on to be with the Lord, Sister Carmen is still an encouragement to me whenever I visit her.
Looking back, I see now how the Lord also personally prepared me for the missionary life in Puerto Plata. As mentioned at the anniversary celebration, once I knew that I was called to the DR, I set about to sell my travel agency business and get rid of all my debts. To become completely debt-free meant that I had to sell my car and rely on public transportation, reduce my living quarters to a rented room, and greatly restrict my spending on food and necessities. How sorry I felt for myself at times – especially waiting for the bus in the cold weather, enduring loud rock music and the smell of smoke from the renter next door. I had to learn to live by faith and trust that God would provide for all my needs. Sister Clee, who was unaware at the time of my greatly reduced budget, was a special blessing to me with her invitations to join her family for meals. While others
would surely wonder, “Is this the blessing of the Lord?” I see now how it was excellent preparation for staring life in the barrio in Puerto Plata. Just like a grain of wheat goes nowhere if it remains in a warm, safe environment, I had to “die” to things, blessings, comforts in order for God to make something come alive. I can’t thank Him enough!
We are thankful for the continued support of Centre Evangelique de Rouyn Noranda in Abitibi, Quebec towards the work in the rural village of La Vigia, just north of Puerto Plata. Each Monday to Thursday, and sometimes on a Saturday, Tony & Rosaury & I load up the red pickup truck with supplies and head to the village for our outreach. About 40 children are coming to the new centre (the completely transformed bar) to receive literacy lessons from Tony, who is really flourishing in this leadership role. With his outgoing personality, Tony loves to mingle with the people and interact with the youth, sharing God’s love with them. Rosaury is befriending many of the women, and I offer a Bible Study each noon hour for anyone who wants to come.
Walkerton Pentecostal sent a team in March, who visited the Centre and participated in outreach. It was a first time visit for Pastor Don Forrest, and we were delighted for him to come and see first-hand how his congregation has blessed us over the years.
When my brother, Rejean, and long-time ministry supporter, Rene Caza, visited in April, we hosted a Mens’ Breakfast at the centre. About 50 men came out, which was more than we ever expected. Rejean and Rene gave their testimonies and prayed with a number of men afterwards, who wanted us to do another mens’ event in the future. To bless the mothers, we hosted a special activity in honour of Mother’s Day, provided refreshments and gave out packages of pasta and rice (a donation from a visiting couple from Windsor). While the mothers were enjoying their time, the children enjoyed ice cream outside – a real treat!
Recently, we had an idea to host a Movie Night. We set up in the centre of the village, used a large white sheet spread over a piece of plywood as our screen, and borrowed some speakers from the local bar. La Vigia is a very poor area, with no running water or electricity. Needless to say, our movie night created much interest. They closed all bars and practically everyone showed up to see the movie, which was a good testimony of how a young Puerto Rican came out of the gang lifestyle and gave his life to Christ.
It is truly exciting that God opened a door for us to work in this village, and called a French Canadian church to partner with us. Please pray that many will come to know Him and be changed because of His great love for them, that families will be healed and restored. Pray that we will continue to have ideas and provision for our outreach here. Upcoming outreaches include visiting summer mission teams. At the end of June, a team from Calvary Chapel in Tennessee will host a picnic and baseball game for the children/youth, bringing along drums of water for the people. They will present the gospel through stories, song and drama. In July, Christian Laurin from Centre Evangelique de Rouyn Noranda will come for three weeks to help, then Malvern Christian Assembly will send a team in August to host a Vacation Bible School. It will be a busy time.
And at the Centre in Puerto Plata
Praise God, we’ve been six years at this location, and saw another successful school year with 120 children from pre-school to grade 5. Under the capable direction of Provedencia, our school director, the school received high marks from a recent visit by the Ministry of Education. Our final chapel time included farewells to our grade 5 students, who will now move into the public school. Please pray that they will remember all they have learnt here and stay close to Jesus.
It was also a time to honour Loyda for all her hard work and dedication to the school and this ministry over the years. Loyda helped me when I started giving literacy lessons to children/youth in my driveway, out of a concern that they loved to hear the Bible stories but so many were unable to read them for themselves. She was with us when we opened the first centre/school in the barrio, and has been one of our best teachers. She continues to give help and support to our teachers from all her many years of experience, and is a special help to those who need a little extra help to learn. We presented her with flowers and a gift. Thank you God for faithful people like Loyda! Please pray that God will bless Loyda and help her with her difficulties with her deteriorating eyesight. Pray that all the children & teachers will be kept safe over the summer months.
We also said goodbye to Elvis, a young handicapped boy who has been with us for a number of years. He will go to a special school that can help with his physical disabilities. We’ll continue to help the family by providing powdered milk for Elvis, and invite them to our events at the Centre. Please pray that the Lord will watch over and protect this young man, and that all he learnt about the love of God will stay with him.
In October, we will be welcoming Aaron Dyck from London, ON, to help at the Centre for two months. Aaron came on a mission trip to the DR a couple of years ago and always wanted to return. He will volunteer his time to help teach graphic arts to some of our young people, and help the grade 5 students with computer and some basic English. He will interact with our youth here and help out wherever else needed. Please pray for Aaron as he continues with raising the rest of his support, and that he will be a blessing and be greatly blessed in return during his time with us.
We continue to feel honoured to work with Pastor Franklin in his work with the seniors at Esperanza y Paz (Hope & Peace) Seniors’ Home in Puerto Plata. We continue to help with groceries, medicine and other general supplies, and regularly visit to encourage and pray with the approximately 20 men that live here. All the men that live here have no family to care for them, and would otherwise be begging on the street. It is always a popular event when Margo accompanies us on our visits and prepares a meal. Margo is such a good cook! She also has a wonderful, compassionate heart for the elderly and is really a great blessing to them with her smile and special care. It is a perfect place for her to use her gifts and talents.
Rene Caza used his talent as a carpenter when he was here in April and built some much-needed shelving for the seniors with my brother, Rejean’s, assistance. When the Walkerton Pentecostal Church team were here in March, they also visited, brought supplies, provided plastic sheeting for all the mattresses, helped with clean up of the premises, and prayed with many.
It is not always easy to minister here and takes special grace, but we want to continue to visit and pray with the residents, and set aside funds to assist with the purchase of groceries and medicines. Please pray that God will bless and encourage Pastor Franklin and continue to provide for the operation of this Home. Pray that every senior that stays here will not only have a roof over their heads, but also come to know and receive God’s love for them. In July, Calvary Chapel from Tennessee plans to paint three bedrooms at the home. What a blessing and encouragement that will be!
In January, Roberto accompanied me on a trip to Cuba. The trip blessed Roberto, who cares for a lot of administrative duties at the Centre. We had a wonderful time seeing the sights and visiting other brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Vision Casting for Safari Bus
We are increasingly being blessed by a number of teams that are coming to assist in the work here in the DR. Each time a team comes, they often have to spend a lot on renting a bus or van large enough to take them around.
Thank you to Malvern Christian Assembly, as well as some individual donors, for a starting off the fund towards the purchase of a safari bus. It means that we currently have $11,300 raised towards the estimated $40,000 purchase price. If you feel that you would like to contribute to this purchase, please let me know.
Outbreak of the Chikungunya Virus
There is an outbreak of chikungunya virus on the island. A number of people in La Vigia, as well as Puerto Plata, have become sick. The virus is borne by infected mosquitoes and causes high fever, with accompanying muscle and joint pains. It is especially dangerous for the young and the elderly. Please pray that the island will soon be delivered of this virus, for the health of the children/youth and seniors we work with, as well as the teams that will be coming to help us over the summer months.
Save the Date
We’d love to have you join us for Luz a Las Naciones’ Fall fundraising banquet. This year it will be held at The Good Neighbour’s Club in Belle River, ON – on Saturday, October 18/14.
Thank you to each one of you for your interest and support of the ministry. “Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” Psalm 146:1,2
God bless you,
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Luz a Las Naciones Ministries Mr. Richard Brochu
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Phone: 1-519-776-9926 Phone/Fax: Phone: 1-809-586-4041
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