Local leaders and medical students are working to more effectively spread the gospel to rural communities.
Over a decade ago, Tom and Nancy Hinton founded Barnabas Task to help address many of the medical needs in Central American communities, but they had a larger vision for these health clinics.
They focused on evangelism and leadership training for locals who were becoming involved in the work. Only a change in people’s hearts could bring the community-wide change many of these volunteers passionately wanted to see.
As leaders naturally sprang up, Tom and Nancy began handing more and more of the ministry responsibilities over to the local team, until the ministry in the Dominican Republic was entirely run by people living in the communities where they were serving.
The dream for how to help this region didn’t stop there, though, for Tom. He joined with World Challenge as a consultant to talk about new, innovative ways to continue empowering local leaders and find solutions for the issues they’re facing.
A Divine Healing
World Challenge team members and local Barnabas Task leaders are looking to expand community health trainings alongside helping medical workers see the evangelistic possibilities within their work.
In the northern part of the D.R., this is particularly necessary in order to address the roots behind rampant teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and alcoholism. Medical students learn how to introduce people to the great and holy physician of the Bible along with physical wellness lessons.
One particular evening, they had a man come into the temporary Villa Gonzalez clinic who was stumbling drunk. They prayed for him and tried to talk to him, but he was barely coherent and kept asking for pain pills.
Medical students are trained not to give any kind of medication to someone in this condition, so they continued to try to talk to him and get him to stay at the clinic until his system could metabolize away more of the alcohol.
“Let’s pray for him again,” someone suggested.
They gathered around him as he muttered and slumped over in chair. Shaken by the Holy Spirit, one medical student put his arms around the man and began crying. As his prayers spilled out, the man became completely sober.
The students shared the story of Christ with the man, and then they connected him to people in a local church for ongoing help and counseling.
The Work Ahead
More than a third of the D.R.’s nearly 10 million people live on less than $1.25 a day, and over 20 percent of the country lives in extreme poverty. This issue is compounded in the north by main agricultural industry there: tobacco.
Tobacco plants deplete the soil of nutrients and are also typically one of the most chemically-intensive crops where farmers heavily use pesticides and fertilizers. Many of these toxic chemical cocktails spread easily through the soil and water into local produce.
Set in the heart of tobacco growing country, the people of Villa Gonzalez are desperately in need of both spiritual and physical healing.
World Challenge and Barnabas Task teams are looking to build more relationships with specialization clinics for long-term diabetes and hypertension care. They are also building relationships within Villa Gonzalez, working to help locals see how God wants to heal them and their community.