It was the summer of 2011, and much like any summer I was working with teams of summer missionaries who had given of their time, talent and resources to join CUPS Mission in the Dominican Republic. That year we were putting a roof on Victor and Virginia’s home. Virginia has always been a jovial spirit and expressed her faith in God. Victor… not so much. He was a poor, hard-working fruit picker who spent most days climbing trees deep in the mountain forests surrounding his village. He didn’t have time or patience for our talks of faith in Christ, but they are a family who CUPS missionaries have loved and served for over a decade, and this year God performed a miracle!
Three years ago their son was killed while racing his motorcycle down the mountain. What boy hasn’t taken a risk with a motor vehicle at some point. This broke both of their hearts, but Victor seemed to pick up the shattered pieces and weld them together into a lump of impenetrable steel. For the past three years he would leave the room if Virginia even spoke of their son or the accident.
This summer on this particular day, things would be different.
Virginia was not home when our team arrived, and Victor might not have opened the door but for the fact that I called out his name. Our team shared a typical greeting and explained how they were there to pray for the family. As they bantered with small talk through their translator Natasha, somebody asked about the boy in the picture on the wall. Immediately, tears welled up in Victor’s eyes. I had seen this moment play out time and again over the past three summers, each time watching him quietly bow his head and slip out of the room unnoticed, leaving Virginia to tell their story through her own tears. But today, without her, he couldn’t leave, and God showed up!
The emotion in the room quickly became uncomfortable for everyone. Knowing him better than the visitors I walked through the team and threw my arms around him tightly. He began weeping in my arms and I in his. There we were, two grown men in a room full of people we barely knew, crying together for a lost child.
A few rather emotional minutes later the Holy Spirit gave me strength to tell Victor the story of King David losing his son. I shared with him the principle that though the son could not return to him, that one day he could go to where his son was. I asked him if he was ready to make his own commitment to Christ, still shaking he said, “Yes” and in that moment God proved true to his promise to remove the hardened heart and replace it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19).
Victor’s cry of salvation included things like, forgive me for being mad at God, and mad at myself, and mad at my son. Three years of anger and grief came pouring out in this prayer as the welds broke, the steel heart shattered again, and our loving Father made it new. Victor asked for forgiveness in a tangible, real way. He asked God to come into his heart, and for Jesus to be his Lord and Savior. Grace was spilled out that day to a father who had lost his son, but gained eternal life through the Father who gave His only Son. If I had a thousand words I could not describe the emotion of the moment, and the tears of everyone in that little tin-roofed wooden shack as God came near. I wish that you could have been there.
I could not have guessed that this Summer’s Mission teams would have been so successful. First, let’s talk about the wonderful team of Dominican Students who attended weeks of preparation to lead seven Bible Camps in four villages! The Cups Leadership could not have been prouder to see these kids who have come through the programs for years, now leading the camps with gusto! If you were there this summer, you know. You saw these kids loving their neighbors as themselves and sharing the Good News of Jesus.
Speaking of those who came, you were phenomenal! You took every project we threw at you with great passion. You returned to your home churches, not only having served in the developing world, but having learned how to introduce Jesus in just about any scenario. You did that in poor villages, mountain shacks, and on the streets with trafficked girls.
This final week we saw even more decisions for Christ than ever! It has been a summer to remember. Please pray with us as we navigate the process of handling all the requests to visit the mission each summer. Ask God to give us wisdom in how to best serve the people He has given into our care: you, our partners in mission, and the children and families we have come together to serve.