Dominican Republic (MNN) — Have you ever played one of those video games centered on building the best city you can? These types of games challenge the player to upgrade the city with education, modern advancements in technology and production, etc.
Imagine that holistic city building concept put into real, live action. That’s kind of what is happening with Orphan’s Heart in the Dominican Republic, but with an eternal perspective.
In 2013, Orphan’s Heart began working in the community of El Carrizal, a city situated rather closely to the Haitian border.
Ron Gunter of Orphan’s Heart says the families living there have houses with dirt floors and sheet metal siding and roofs– nothing more than temporary housing. Most of them lack running water and electricity.
By partnering with the government and the local Church, Orphan’s Heart has embarked upon a remarkable project — to build a community of transformation.
They have agreed to build 100 single family homes, and a community transformation center which serves as a multipurpose community event center and the church. They’ve also agreed to secure a pastor, social worker, and provide technical training, childcare, a feeding program, and more.
“It’s a very, very impoverished area. These are very, very poor families. And what we are building is a home that is about 65 square meters. It’s three bedrooms, a living area, a kitchen, bathroom.”
Great steps towards community transformation
The first project finished was the community transformation center which has already begun operating in ministry.
In July, the first 50 homes were completed and dedicated. They recently began moving families into those homes, five to ten families at a time. One interesting aspect of this project is the need to train these families how to use modern conveniences — like a gas stove, for instance.
“We have 100 extremely excited families receiving these homes and it will transform their lives. There are going to be challenges, we’re aware of that, but we’re ready to address those.”
Each block moved in and assimilated will help the next block with the transition.
Teaching them how
This is more than a housing project. It’s a life-transformation effort. While the government has provided many of the 100 families with land to farm on, Orphan’s Heart is going to provide job training that can support the other families within their own community.
Gunter says, “We are going to do training in the community transformation center during the week for teaching women how to sew, how to cut hair, teaching electrical, teaching mechanical, other things that will give hands-on job training to these individuals so they can begin looking for work in these areas in their communities.”
The homes and the job training are great ways to teach the families how to be self-sustaining. However, as the Body of Christ is aware, everyone can use a little help once in a while. That’s why Orphan’s Heart has their child sponsorship program.
The sponsorship program assists children in this new community as well as the surrounding area.
For $35 a month, you’re not only helping to provide basic needs for a child, but you’re strengthening their family as well. This small fund helps provide food, medical care, and daycare for working families.
“The end result will be that we hopefully will have very strong healthy children who are growing up with an opportunity for education, an opportunity for training, and an opportunity to change their lives and their future because of the investment of so many, and the care and concern of so many — not only for their physical housing, but for their spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ.”
This spiritual aspect of this project is not an add-on. It is the reason for doing the work. Gunter puts it this way: “We want to impact them with the Gospel of Christ.”
The community transformation center was the first completed project. This is so the local church is central to the community.
Wherever they go, Orphan’s Heart works with nationals in conjunction with the local church to provide for physical needs and tell the people they’re helping about Jesus.
In the D.R., they’ve been working with a local pastor for two years.
Part of the spiritual outreach involves teams taking half of their day to minister to children through Bible school and sports.
“We make no apologies that the whole reason we do what we do as Orphan’s Heart is because of what Christ has compelled us to do as His followers, and we literally want to be the hands and the feet of Christ in all that we do in ministry.”
A young ministry making big impact
Orphan’s Heart is eight years young. They have grown from working in a small malnutrition center in Guatemala to working in 16 countries at over 30 ministry sites.
Their desire is to impact children through the Gospel and by God’s grace.
This is the largest project Orphan’s Heart has undertaken. But they’ve known since the beginning they are not alone.
“What a joy that is, and what a miracle that is that God has done this and that God continues to do this, and we have to give Him all the glory for that.”
So far, 50 homes have been dedicated and they are making progress on the remaining 50. This is a project with a high vision for complete transformation — body, mind, and soul. It’s ongoing, and you can help.
“The most important thing people can do is pray. Pray for the project. Pray for the people in the community. Pray for the pastor, José, that he would be the spiritual leader in that community, that he would be a light for Christ there, and that he would help to draw people to Christ.”
You can also pray for the ministry to stay focused on God’s will and glory in all they do.
Another obvious way you can help is through financial support. Each home costs $12,500. These colorful homes are designed to provide the families adequate insulation from the high temperatures.
If you would like to donate or participate in the sponsorship program, click here.
You can spend a week with Orphan Outreach in the D.R. to help with the remainder of the building or to focus on community outreach.
If you and a team raise the money for one of the remaining houses, you will be able to help build it while you’re there.
If you just want to help but can’t raise money, you’ll spend time working in some of the community programs — the Bible school, feeding program, training, etc.