Originally published in Western Recorder — http://seed.fastsecureservers.com/~westernr/index.php/world-a-missions-hidden/1577-raise-the-roof-hodgenville-vbs-funds-church-in-the-dominican-republic
Hodgenville—Missions became a real experience for the Vacation Bible School children at First Baptist Church of Hodgenville.
The church began ministering in the San Pedro area of the Dominican Republic by going house-to-house with an iPod and projector and showing the “Jesus Film” to individual families in the area, senior pastor Paul Richey said.
After the initial contact was made, the local church planter Miguel would set up weekly chronological Bible studies. “When this would happen, we started to see that people were really responding,” Richey said.As the numbers grew to about 50 adult believers, the need arose for a place to meet.
However, the new group of believers didn’t have the resources to build a church building, so First Baptist accepted the task to construct the structure. They estimated the cost would be about $5,000.
First Baptist began to raise funds to construct the building for these new believers by challenging their VBS kids to help raise the money.
“We didn’t think they would get it at all,” Richey said. “We thought they may bring in $1,200 or $1,400, so we decided to challenge them a little bit.”
First Baptist built a miniature model of the church that was going to be built in the Dominican Republic. “With this model, we started to put a wall up for every $750 they raised,” Richey said. “Our thought was that we would get a wall or two up.
Maybe the church would help us finish the structure, and the kids could watch the rest of it go up.” On the last night of VBS, they were about $2,000 short of their goal. “The next thing we knew, we were counting money, and it was taking them almost an hour to count. I knew something wasn’t quite right,” Richey said.
By the end of the night, the children had raised $6,700 for this church plant. “The kids got all excited because their motto all week was, ‘We have to have a roof for the kids in the Dominican.’ They really bought into that and began to build and push toward that,” he said. I
n July, a group of 14 men took the funds to build the new structure and evangelize in the evenings. In three days, they had erected the shell of the building and had done everything but the wiring and roof. In the evening, they continued the house-to-house missions.
The church plant held their first service without a roof. That service had 35 people in attendance. “That was just the start,” Richey said. “Every night after that they had 35, 40, 50 people. The next Sunday they had over 100 people, and they have been averaging over 100 people every single night to worship since then at this location.”
The kid’s contribution directly helped lead another young man to the Lord.
“We had a young man named Jeffrey who was a kid, probably about 12 years old, and he came out the first day and would just pick up wood and help us carry stuff. He was just a local who would hang out where we were working,” Richey said. “We started joking with him even though there was a language barrier. There were just some things we had fun doing.
“He would show up at night and walk with us when we would go home to home doing evangelism,” Richey recalled. So, the mission team assumed that he was part of the core church plant group.
“Through translators that last day he asked if we would show the movie in his house. When we showed the movie, he accepted Christ. It was just an amazing story of how we invested all week long and the impact that had,” Richey added.
Through the whole process, the church reminded the kids that they helped the mission team get there. Even Richey’s 6- year-old daughter was interested and aware of what was taking place in the Dominican Republic.
“I would Skype with her from the Dominican, and she would constantly ask me if I had the roof on that church yet for those kids so they could worship God too,” Richey said.
“Our kids are now asking about the kids in the Dominican—and about kids across the world—how we can make sure they know about Jesus. It has actually brought awareness to them beyond when we just teach them about international missions,” he added.
“They see the pictures, they hear the reports, and they are personally invested in it. That has made a huge difference because it has opened up their minds that people need to hear about Jesus,” he continued. “I think it has not only alerted them to missions per say, but I think it has alerted them just to the need of Christ even by people in our own community,” he said.
“We challenged them to understand that we do this because Jesus’ name must be known,” Richey concluded. (WR)
Myriah Snyder, who recently completed a summer internship with Baptist Press, is a senior at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg. – See more at: http://seed.fastsecureservers.com/~westernr/index.php/world-a-missions-hidden/1577-raise-the-roof-hodgenville-vbs-funds-church-in-the-dominican-republic#sthash.s0gZRjzJ.dpuf