Wherever We Are Called

A Letter from Josey Saez and David Cortes, serving in the Dominican Republic

May 2020

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It’s been over two months that we find ourselves sheltering in place. Only one month after settling into our new partnership with the Evangelical Dominican Church, we returned to the U.S. This decision did not come easily. We struggled, prayed and had many conversations with the Presbyterian Mission Agency team who kept us informed. The information being transmitted every day from the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic and the news from the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization was overwhelming. Finally, after lots of prayers and conversations with our partners and with our families, we came to the conclusion it was best for us to return to U.S. soil.

Then came the decision to purchase tickets, but to where? Our temporary home is in the Dominican Republic. We have no other place to call home. Yes, home is wherever we have been called to. David and I were just settled into our new home in Santo Domingo. Those first weeks of getting settled were filled with the normal questions of to whom do we go, what do we need, and where to find the things we need. It was a time of completing our temporary residency documentation (which we thankfully did). Our new friends are strong people of faith, courage and resiliency. They are a comparatively small church that, since its inception in the 1920s, has been able to weather many storms, literal hurricanes, invasions, dictatorships, economic instabilities, and many situations most emerging countries have had to battle against.

The faithful people of the Evangelical Dominican Church are once again called to be a people who model Christian and civic behavior during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rev. Miguel A. Cancú, Executive Secretary, continues to be a pastoral and guiding presence for the church and those in the most vulnerable communities and for all those who encounter him. David and I have been blessed with his phone calls and internet media devotionals which he shares with us and with his beloved community of faith.

With the help of the Presbyterian Disaster Agency, the Evangelical Dominican Church has been able to assist the most vulnerable with water and food within several church communities. The Evangelical Dominican Church has a well-organized outreach and community service program. There are great needs. Even with few resources, the Church has been able to make a difference by bringing hope to many lives.

For instance, let us introduce you to Ernesto Garcia. Ernesto is an active member and lay leader of the Church in the southwestern part of the island, in the province of Barahona. With his family, church family and, community they are all reaching out to their community to make sure those who are most vulnerable will receive staples like rice, beans, oil, and canned vegetables. These staples are given and received with a smile and word of hope.

Ernesto does not only bring food, he also brings with him the good news of the Gospel, sharing God’s care in a tangible way. In his service to the community, Ernesto is not only feeding the body, he is feeding souls and building a community of support and friendship. He knows that his ministry is one of caring for neighbors. He serves the Lord by being a servant himself. He serves the Lord by bringing the Gospel and food, knowing that in this ministry he is the hands of the Lord extended to help his people. He also sees the hands of the Lord extended out to him, providing him with strength enabling him to be a comforting presence in his community. He remembers Matthew 25:45, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these; you did not do it to me.”

Yes, brothers and sisters, the Church in the Dominican Republic is serving Christ in many ways. We are honored to be in partnership with our brothers and sisters of the Dominican Evangelical Church, with their leadership, with their members, and in solidarity with the people sometimes forgotten by the world, but never by the Lord.

David and I leave you with this prayer that most certainly embodies our new friend Ernesto Garcia and all who are bound in partnership in Christ’s love.

“We are not people of fear: we are people of courage. We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbors’ safety. We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity. We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs, for as long as it takes, wherever you call us.” Barbara Glasson

David and Josey

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