Dominican Republic: Carol Stephens
Building the Church One by One Among the Needy in a Remote Mountain Village
Carol Stephens has devoted more than 20 years to discipling the poor in the Dominican Republic where she has developed a ministry center clinging to the side of a rugged mountain range. She calls it EI Shaddai; Almighty God, all sufficient one, God of the Mountains. And surely God is there helping her and her ministry partners to build the church, one precious person at a time.
The focus of Natión en Transformación is Biblically-based community development. As Christians emerge from their discipling process, the communities where they live begin to emerge from poverty. Carol formerly served under the auspices of Youth with a Mission, but recently retired from YWAM to partner with N.E.T., Nación en Transformación.
Ministry partners reach out to neighbors in their small mountain village always mindful of the respect that Jesus showered on His followers. This attitude gradually filters throughout the community and leads some to Jesus. El Shaddai helps with property maintenance, promotes a clean environment and provides medical care to the village. More unconventional is the introduction of photography to villagers, which, once mastered helps build self-respect. Even architecture has a place in that El Shaddai workers emphasize the need for privacy, and construction of beds to improve living conditions within the home. “We met the challenge of developing healthier food habits through planting organic gardens, teaching the villagers about cooking and serving healthier meals,” said Carol. “Whatever the Lord brings to our attention.” These efforts foster a respect for each other which in turn brings some to faith in Jesus and an understanding of His never ending love. Jesus said, and Mathew 25:35-36 records this for us: “For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” This is the heart of His message to a people hungry for the truth.
“The Lord has established His beachhead, and yes it is a military term, at El Shaddai and called me to work with Him there. And I said, ‘Yes’ to Him; I want to be there with Him as He brings the light of His glory to the Dominicans who are sitting in darkness enabling the light of the Gospel to reach out into the region and country.”
This love is well rewarded when someone says, “I want the joy you have.” This happens more and more the longer Carol lives among the needy. One by one, the Christian community grows under the teaching of those who love in Jesus’ name. And even after 20 years Carol gets excited about that and pours her life out for the village of Mata de Limón 3,100 feet up in the remote Dominican mountains.
“I count it all joy to stand beside the Lord in what He is doing in Mata de Limón and the Dominican Republic,” she says.