true evangelism always requires sacrifice

History

History

True Evangelism Always Requires Sacrifice T.E.A.R.S. MINISTRIES   In 1995, Roderick (Rod) Davis sold all he owned.  He went with his wife, Twila, and two toddler children and moved to the slums of the Dominican Republic.  Rod, Twila, Shekinah and Isaac subjected themselves to the same conditions in which the Dominicans live, including poverty and sickness.  As they began to haul water each day, deal with infrequent electrical power, and wash clothes by hand, their suburban lifestyle in Portland seemed far away. This was the beginning of TEARS (True Evangelism Always Requires Sacrifice), which is a ministry to some of the poorest people in the Caribbean.   “Due to poor living conditions and the lack of clean water, we were constantly plagued by sicknesses, including parasites, lice and scabies,” Rod says. “There were days we weren’t sure where our next meal would come from, but God always provided for us.”   The Davis family remembers sitting inside their tin-roofed shanty praying for God to provide.  Monthly support wasn’t coming in as hoped. A knock at the door turned out to be a local widow. She told them that she had been praying, and God had impressed upon her to give them the little amount of money she had. It was just enough to buy a bag of rice and some beans.   Why would someone give up a comfortable life in the United States to live a life of poverty in a third-world country?   “Although we were involved in inner-city ministry in Portland,” Rod says, “we got the sense that God was leading us to make a dramatic change.”   The dramatic change for the Davis family has had a ripple effect through the Maria Auxiliadora barrio (ghetto). This barrio was once a community overcome with alcohol and drug abuse, where most children lacked the papers to attend school and where church attendance was rare. TEARS has established two schools that are so vital, they have a waiting list with hundreds of names. TEARS planted its first church, Iglesia El Camino, born out of home groups.  Out of this church has grown numerous sister churches in other poor areas.  God has used one family to impact scores of families.

The Dominican Republic   It was no accident that God brought the Davis family to the Dominican Republic. Dominicans are among the poorest of the poor in the Western Hemisphere. They also experience some of the worst social class differentials in the world. The poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth the country’s GNP, while the richest 10 percent enjoy nearly 40 percent of the country’s wealth (CIA). Rod and Twila felt a distinct calling.   “We’re different from many large mission organizations in that we go to the poorest of the poor,” Rod says. “We’ve been chastised by some Christian organizations that say it is impossible to plant self-sustaining churches among the poor, but we believe that God desires to plant churches and establish social justice in every community. These serve as a visible manifestation of His Kingdom here on earth.”   The Dominican unemployment rate averages a dismal 17 percent (CIA) and those with jobs often work 6 or 7 twelve hours days each week at sweat-shop style factories for less than $1 per hour.  According to UNESCO, 38 percent of the country lives in slums and 43 percent of Dominicans have no access to improved sanitation. Poverty is a way of life throughout the barrio and creates unhealthy, dangerous living conditions.   “We moved in to a house with a hole in the floor for a toilet,” Rod explains. “Many of the kids in the barrio go without clothes and few of them get the nourishment they need consistently.”   TEARS has helped improve the lives of families through education, skills training and by introducing people to the transforming power of Jesus Christ.

The Barrio   Barrio Maria Auxiliadora is home to approximately 30,000 Dominicans, approximately 12,000 of them children, all living below the poverty line. Tin roof shanties and holes in the floor for latrines are the norm.  When the Davis family came to the barrio they had no running water and no idea how to get it. The living conditions were extreme.   Rod noticed that children weren’t going to school. Most kids played in the streets all day. Neighbors did whatever they had to in order to survive.   “It isn’t unusual to see children running barefoot through the sewage overflow that runs down the side of the street,” Rod explains.   Unfortunately, there are few missionaries in the barrios of the Dominican Republic. Many of the country’s laborers for Christ have opted to live in Santo Domingo or Santiago – the two most industrialized cities in the country.   Everywhere one turns, there are needs crying out to be met.  TEARS staff has much work to do with many projects constantly in motion – each one important to the welfare of these precious people.

The Church   In 1995, when the Davis family first arrived in the barrio, there was only one church with about 15 attendees—again in a community of about 30,000.  They knew there was potential in the barrio for so much more. Rod and Twila hoped for a thriving, life-giving church to be born in the heart of this ghetto.   They began going door to door, sharing the Gospel using simple techniques and speaking broken Spanish. Through these efforts, many came to accept Christ. Some conversions were unexpected.   “When we moved into Maria Auxiliadora, we bought our house for ten times the market value,” Rod says. “That bothered me because I always thought I was pretty street savvy. But when we started going door to door sharing the gospel, one of our first converts was that same person that sold me our house. I guess it was a good investment.”   Rod and Twila began TEARS in obedience to God—not knowing what to expect.  The first church began in their home with a few members. No building, no paid pastoral staff, just the message of redemption through Jesus Christ. The message began to spread and that home church replicated to include more than 30 cell groups and other home churches in the barrio – all lead by indigenous Christians.   In fact, these churches have begun to send out missionaries!  Where there was previously no evangelical church, today there are churches sending out workers to plant new churches in other barrios. Again, an unexpected participant led the way.   “Moreno was a machete-wielding terror in the barrio,” Rod explains. “When he accepted Christ, he made it mandatory for his wife and children to come to Bible study. Now, after a few years of being involved with his home church, he has moved to a mountain village to be a missionary pastor.”   Moreno is taking on a new way of life to bring people to Jesus Christ. He’s learning to farm in the mountains of the Dominican Republic, a change from his previous lifestyle of urban survival. Rod couldn’t be more pleased with the change.   “Conversion is more than a prayer for salvation,” he says. “It is about total renewal. Moreno is a good example of the way God changes things. He makes things new from the inside out. That’s why we’re here.”        

The School   Public education in the DR is government-run, non-mandatory and highly inadequate.  Children are required to have the ability to buy uniforms, shoes and note books in order to be enrolled—things the poorest simply do not have. Once enrolled, the purchase of school supplies and uniforms can be overbearing on the family budget as most families are working for extremely low wages.   In 2000, TEARS Christian School opened and enrolled 69 students. Today, more than 400 students attend classes taught by certified, indigenous, Christian teachers.  Additionally, the school is meeting many needs beyond education. Students are given routine medical and dental exams as well as provided with daily meals and vitamins. Uniforms and supplies are provided in order to ease family financial responsibilities. Above all, students are hearing about Jesus Christ and finding a safe place to belong.   There are hundreds of children waiting to attend TEARS School. Tuition is free, and all that is asked in return is that family members spend some time as a volunteer at the school. Teachers emphasize Biblical character and weave Christian instruction into daily lessons. Currently, the school focuses on early education and intervention, beginning with pre-K through third grade. When students leave TEARS school, they are given the proper paperwork to attend other schools in the area.  In the next year, TEARS Christian School is embarking on an early childhood literacy program and TEARS administrators hope to see increased parental involvement through this program that will increase the barrio’s literacy rate.  

The Leadership Training Center   Rod’s desire to train more than a handful of people led to the development of the TEARS Leadership Training Center. The center is located on the edge of Maria Auxiliadora on six acres of land.   “We want to give pastoral training and leadership skills to those in the barrio and to other area church leaders,” Rod explains. “We want to raise up indigenous leaders where none exist today. In the future, the building will also serve as a vocational training center and housing for interns and visiting mission groups.”   Additionally, the center has allowed for brainstorming and dream casting among the leadership of TEARS. Their hope is that one day the center will be a place known for training pastors from across the nation and even throughout the Caribbean and Central America. Hundreds of students have received advanced Bible training and leadership courses. The seminars range in topic from pastoral training to small group leadership and evangelism.  Attendees come with a desire to impact the Dominican Republic for Christ and leave with the tools to complete their task.   Fernando grew up with religion but he says he never really understood what God was trying to do in his life.  Fernando was the head barrio drug dealer until some brothers from the School of Vision came and shared the gospel with him. Particularly Fernando was impressed with the power of God’s amazing grace.   “Understanding grace turned my life around and has had a tremendous impact on my work with young people and in the church,” he says.   Now Fernando is lead pastor in a local church and has joined the TEARS core group team to make an even greater impact across the Dominican Republic.

Water Purification System   In a partnership with the Stewardship Foundation, Varsity Bible Church and Healing Waters, TEARS installed a state-of-the-art water purification system at the TEARS school property. Today, the system provides very affordable drinking water to the entire barrio.  For only 20 pesos (1/2 the normal cost), neighbors can fill five gallon bottles with safe drinking water. A small profit from the price goes to the local church and TEARS School is provided with free drinking water. In an area where no city water is treated, this allows the school to ensure all of its students and the community beyond have safe, affordable drinking water.   The partnership is a very powerful way to show the love of God through meeting physical needs. In fact, at the dedication, Pastor Chelo presented a message comparing physical needs with spiritual ones. Many in the crowd responded to his message of hope by praying to receive Christ into their lives.

Haitian Outreach   Rod and Twila began their journey to the Caribbean with a brief visit to Haiti. Although it was God’s plan for their ministry to be headquartered in the Dominican Republic, the Davis family never lost its desire to see Haitians come to know Jesus as their Savior.   “Nowhere on earth have I seen poverty like Haiti “ Rod explained, “people living in trash heaps, covered head to toe in flies, yet too weak to brush them off.  This is a place where women must choose which of their children they allow to starve because there simply is not food to feed them all.”   Over recent years, Haiti has experienced intense political turmoil and an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Haitians to the Dominican Republic. This influx of people has created small communities of migrant workers throughout the areas where TEARS ministers.   The TEARS Team have embraced Rod and Twila’s heart for these new inhabitants by planting small churches in 28 Haitian barrios. The result has been a strong desire for Christian training within the Haitian community. Eight indigenous pastors have been trained and are working in Haitian communities in the Dominican Republic.  These pastors provide Bible training and practical support for Haitian families and potential church leaders.  It is Rod’s hope that many trained leaders will return to Haiti with the message of the good news of Christ.

Internship Program   The power of entering another culture, living with its people and engaging in ministry has changed life after life. From the earliest days of evangelism to today, missionaries have experienced this powerful effect. The TEARS Summer Explosion program is a six-week session designed to minister to mature Americans and Canadians in the upper high school or college age group. This TEARS intern program integrates the participants into the work of TEARS Ministries while being stretched through cultural assimilation, discipleship and evangelism.  The goal of the program is to develop leaders and to direct interns toward a closer relationship with God as they live out the two greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 23:37-39). This rigorous and demanding TEARS program has a powerful effect on each student as they increase their spiritual and social awareness of the mission field.   Derek Sproule was one youth that enrolled in the internship program. His heart was changed:   “This summer was all about the transforming power of Jesus Christ. I hoped this trip would build my faith, but I never understood or imagined what God had in store. I was forced, in my weakness, to humble myself and rely on him. He came through with wondrous power. Sitting on the plane (coming to LaVega) I kept thinking about how God would work through me. But the most profound changes occurred when God worked in me.”

True Evangelism Always Requires Sacrifice   For two decades now, the Davis family through TEARS has dramatically improved the lives of many in the Dominican Republic.  Through the true sacrifice of Rod and his family, barrio Maria Auxiliadora (and beyond) is now a real and visible manifestation of Christ’s Church on earth.   But there is, of course, more to do.  Fortunately the Davis Family is no longer alone as Rod now leads the TEARS Army of Soldiers for Christ.  In the work God has set before them, they continue to literally sacrifice their lives for the work of Christ on this Caribbean island.   Will you sacrifice some of your life to share the gospel in the Dominican Republic and Haiti?   Will you support Rod and Twila Davis and TEARS Ministries as they reach out to the poorest of the poor with the good news?     As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.  They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1Ti 6:17-19 ESV)

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"You have one business on Earth - to save souls." -- John Wesley "Christ alone can save the world, but Christ cannot save the world alone." -- David Livingston "I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light" -- John Keith Falconer "God isn't looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him" -- Hudson Taylor "Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell." -- C.T. Studd "We can give without loving, but we cannot love without giving" -- Alexander Duff "If God wills the evangelization of the world, and you refuse to support missions, then you are opposed to the will of God." -- Oswald J. Smith, Missionary Statesman "If I had 1,000 lives, I'd give them all for China" -- Hudson Taylor "Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God" -- William Carey, who is called the father of modern missions "The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become." -- Henry Martyn, missionary to India and Persia "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose" -- Jim Elliot, missionary martyr who lost his life in the late 1950's trying to reach the Auca Indians of Ecuador "We are debtors to every man to give him the Gospel in the same measure in which we have received it" -- P.F. Bresee, founder of the Church of the Nazarene "In the vast plain to the north I have sometimes seen, in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been" -- Robert Moffat, who inspired David Livingstone "Can't you do just a little bit more?" -- J.G. Morrison pleading with Nazarenes in the 1930's Great Depression to support their missionaries "Lost people matter to God, and so they must matter to us." -- Keith Wright "The Bible is not the basis of missions; missions is the basis of the Bible" -- Ralph Winter, U.S. Center for World Mission "If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him." -- C.T. Studd "No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once." -- Oswald J. Smith "This generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of souls on the earth!" -- Keith Green "There is nothing in the world or the Church -- except the church's disobedience -- to render the evangelization of the world in this generation an impossibility." -- Robert Speer, leader in Student Volunteer Movement "If you found a cure for cancer, wouldn't it be inconceivable to hide it from the rest of mankind? How much more inconceivable to keep silent the cure from the eternal wages of death?" -- Dave Davidson "If God calls you to be a missionary, don't stoop to be a king" -- Jordan Groom (variations of this also credited to G. K. Chesterson, Thomas Carlyle and Charles Haddon Spurgeon) "World missions was on God's mind from the beginning." -- Dave Davidson "Let my heart be broken with the things that break God's heart" -- Bob Pierce, World Vision founder "No reserves. No retreats. No regrets" -- William Borden "The reason some folks don't believe in missions is that the brand of religion they have isn't worth propagating." -- unknown When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the ship captain tried to turn him back, saying, "You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages." To that, Calvert replied, "We died before we came here." "Someone asked, will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved? It is more a question with me whether we -- who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not -- can be saved." -- Charles Spurgeon "God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on him." -- Hudson Taylor, missionary to China "The Gospel is only good news if it gets there in time" -- Carl F. H. Henry "Our God of Grace often gives us a second chance, but there is no second chance to harvest a ripe crop." -- Kurt von Schleicher "Missions is the overflow of our delight in God because missions is the overflow of God's delight in being God." --John Piper "The church that does not evangelize will fossilize." -- Oswald J. Smith "God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply" -- Hudson Taylor "You can give without loving. But you cannot love without giving." -- Amy Carmichael, missionary to India "Only as the church fulfills her missionary obligation does she justify her existence." -- Unknown "You can't take it [money] with you but you can send it on ahead." -- Oswald J. Smith "As long as there are millions destitute of the Word of God and knowledge of Jesus Christ, it will be impossible for me to devote time and energy to those who have both." -- J. L. Ewen "The mission of the church is missions" -- Unknown "Sympathy is no substitute for action." -- David Livingstone, missionary to Africa "The command has been to 'go,' but we have stayed -- in body, gifts, prayer and influence. He has asked us to be witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth ... but 99% of Christians have kept puttering around in the homeland." -- Robert Savage, Latin American Mission "People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives ... and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted." -- Nate Saint, missionary martyr "We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God." -- John Stott "Believers who have the Gospel keep mumbling it over and over to themselves. Meanwhile, millions who have never heard it once fall into the flames of eternal hell without ever hearing the salvation story." -- K.P. Yohannan, founder of Gospel for Asia Bible Society "We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first." -- Oswald J. Smith "Tell the students to give up their small ambitions and come eastward to preach the Gospel of Christ." -- Francis Xavier, missionary to India, the Philippines, and Japan "The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity, but its sending capacity." -- Mike Stachura "'Not called!' did you say? 'Not heard the call,' I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father's house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face -- whose mercy you have professed to obey -- and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world. -- William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army "It is not in our choice to spread the Gospel or not. It is our death if we do not." -- Peter Taylor Forsyth, Herald of Holiness, March 1975 "Not, how much of my money will I give to God, but how much of God's money will I keep for myself." -- John Wesley "If God's love is for anybody anywhere, it's for everybody everywhere." – Edward Lawlor, Nazarene General Superintendent "Never pity missionaries; envy them. They are where the real action is -- where life and death, sin and grace, Heaven and Hell converge." -- Robert C. Shannon, Christian Standard, January 1983 "People who don't believe in missions have not read the New Testament. Right from the beginning Jesus said the field is the world. The early church took Him at His word and went East, West, North and South." -- J. Howard Edington "It is possible for the most obscure person in a church, with a heart right toward God, to exercise as much power for the evangelization of the world, as it is for those who stand in the most prominent positions." -- John R. Mott "In no other way can the believer become as fully involved with God's work, especially the work of world evangelism, as in intercessory prayer." -- Dick Eastman, president of Every Home for Christ (formerly World Literature Crusade) "The best remedy for a sick church is to put it on a missionary diet." -- David Livingston "What's your dream and to what corner of the missions world will it take you?" -- Eleanor Roat, missions mobilizer "We can reach our world, if we will. The greatest lack today is not people or funds. The greatest need is prayer." -- Wesley Duewel, head of OMS International "Love is the root of missions; sacrifice is the fruit of missions" -- Roderick Davis "The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed" -- Hudson Taylor "Missionary zeal does not grow out of intellectual beliefs, nor out of theological arguments, but out of love" -- Roland Allen "I have but one passion: It is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ." -- Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf “The light that shines farthest shines brightest at home." -- C.T. Studd "The supreme task of the church is the evangelization of the world. No one has the right to hear the gospel twice until everyone has had an opportunity to hear it at least once.” -- J. Oswald Smith, Vital Christianity, June 1979 “God had only one Son and he made that Son a missionary.” -- David Livingston "Some are trapped in boxes of pea-sized Christianity, full of myths about missions that rob them of incentive to care about the un-reached" -- David Bryant in In the Gap "To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map." -- William Carey, pioneer missionary to India "Is not the commission of our Lord still binding upon us? Can we not do more than now we are doing?" – William Carey "If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?" -- David Livingstone "Any church that is not seriously involved in helping fulfill the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist." -- Oswald J. Smith "In our lifetime, wouldn't it be sad if we spent more time washing dishes or swatting flies or mowing the yard or watching television than praying for world missions?" -- Dave Davidson "If ten men are carrying a log -- nine of them on the little end and one at the heavy end -- and you want to help, which end will you lift on?" -- William Borden, as he reflected on the numbers of Christian workers in the U.S. as compared to those among un-reached peoples in China "Our God of Grace often gives us a second chance, but there is no second chance to harvest a ripe crop." -- Kurt von Schleicher [ Apple Pickers' Parable ] "God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose." -- John Piper "Go, send, or disobey." -- John Piper "If you take missions out of the Bible, you won't have anything left but the covers" -- Nina Gunter "If the Church is 'in Christ,' she is involved in mission. Her whole existence then has a missionary character. Her conduct as well as her words will convince the unbelievers and put their ignorance and stupidity to silence." – David Bosch "Missions is not the 'ministry of choice' for a few hyperactive Christians in the church. Missions is the purpose of the church." – Unknown "The concern for world evangelization is not something tacked on to a man's personal Christianity, which he may take or leave as he chooses. It is rooted in the character of the God who has come to us in Christ Jesus. Thus, it can never be the province of a few enthusiasts, a sideline or a specialty of those who happen to have a bent that way. It is the distinctive mark of being a Christian." -- James S. Stewart "The average pastor views his church as a local church with a missions program; while he ought to realize that if he is in fact pastoring a church, it is to be a global church with a missions purpose." – Unknown "The Christian is not obedient unless he is doing all in his power to send the Gospel to the heathen world." -- A. B. Simpson "Prayer is the mighty engine that is to move the missionary work." -- A.B. Simpson "The will of God -- nothing less, nothing more, nothing else." -- F. E. Marsh (also attributed to Bobby Richardson) "If the Great Commission is true, our plans are not too big; they are too small." -- Pat Morley "If missions languish, it is because the whole life of godliness is feeble. The command to go everywhere and preach to everybody is not obeyed until the will is lost by self-surrender in the will of God. Living, praying, giving and going will always be found together." -- Arthur T. Pierson "'Go ye' is as much a part of Christ's Gospel as 'Come unto Me.' You are not even a Christian until you have honestly faced your responsibility in regard to the carrying of the Gospel to the ends of the earth." -- J. Stuart Holden "A congregation that is not deeply and earnestly involved in the worldwide proclamation of the gospel does not understand the nature of salvation." -- Ted Engstrom, World Vision "To stay here and disobey God -- I can't afford to take the consequence. I would rather go and obey God than to stay here and know that I disobeyed." -- Amanda Berry Smith "I believe that in each generation God has called enough men and women to evangelize all the yet un-reached tribes of the earth. It is not God who does not call. It is man who will not respond!" -- Isobel Kuhn, missionary to China and Thailand "God is a God of missions. He wills missions. He commands missions. He demands missions. He made missions possible through His Son. He made missions actual in sending the Holy Spirit." -- George W. Peters