Thanks to Samantha Perfas for sharing her reflections on our most recent trip, and how God is using our partnership to transform both La Mosca and Boston. We’re grateful for a week of serving alongside the Vargas family, and are already looking forward to seeing them again this summer!
Before going on the REUNION trip to the Dominican Republic, I was of the mind that it might be a waste of time.
I had recently read The Very Worst Missionary by Jamie Wright, and felt convicted of short-term missions trips and their purpose in the communities they intend to serve. I didn’t want to be another white girl, showing up to an impoverished community to shake hands, kiss babies, and happily jump back on a plane to my privileged life.
Having been part of REUNION for nearly a decade, I knew of our partnership with the Vargas family in the DR and valued the team members who consistently travelled and invested their time in this relationship. But personally, I felt skeptical that going would be of value to anyone besides myself. I felt that at best it was a nice thing to do and at worst it was a selfish excuse to escape the daily grind of life in Boston. So, after God moved mountains for my husband and I to go on this trip, I found myself feeling two things: skeptical that I would be of use and curious as to why God was leading us there.
God transformed my heart and mind throughout our week in La Mosca. I can now with 100% confidence say that our partnership with GO Ministries is a wonderful thing, and in working closely with them we are doing amazing things in the DR. Without groups coming down to partner alongside them (even for just a week at a time), they would not be able to serve in the capacity they currently do. The more I learned about GO—how they operate, and their vision for achieving God’s kingdom on earth—I was impressed and humbled by the level of thought and care they put into their work. From what I saw, nothing they did was self-serving or impulsive, but rather thoughtfully and strategically decided by the needs of that specific community through prayer and work. They, and by extension we, weren’t a group of gringos coming in and trying to tell Dominicans how to live their lives, but rather a team of passionate individuals partnering alongside Dominican nationals who were already doing great work, year round.
Meeting the Vargas family, REUNION’s Dominican partner, was so rewarding after hearing about them for the many years I’ve attended REUNION. And to see firsthand how rejuvenated and refreshed they were by having us there humbled me. Who was I that they should embrace me into their life? Who was I, a newbie with no prior connection to their ministry, to think I could be part of the incredible work they were doing? Their answer: I was family.
Beyond the part we played in bringing joy, love, and support to our DR community, the experience also transformed my thinking about REUNION’s role in Boston. Many of the things I’ve learned and embraced about REUNION—living locally, investing in your neighbors, loving recklessly—I saw actively lived out by the GO staff, the Vargas family, and the rest of our DR network. They are truly living the church in all that they do, and if just a small fraction of that could be captured and breathed into our REUNION community, we would never be the same. Every person that experiences the intensity of God’s kingdom through our DR partnership is one more person to sow those seeds in the cold, sometimes barren-feeling ground of the northeast. For that alone, being part of God’s work in the DR is invaluable.
I could write pages and pages about what we did while we were in La Mosca, and share story after story of the biggest and smallest ways I saw God working while we were there. But the biggest impact it had on my life was that it began to melt the jadedness towards the church that had begun to envelop my heart, and it helped me to see what the church can be when we embrace each other with the reckless love of God.
To close, I’d like to include part of the journal entry I wrote after our red-eye back to Boston. These are my honest reflections in a sleep-deprived moment that just scratch the surface of how this trip changed my thinking and my heart:
God, this last week really moved me in ways I didn’t expect… seeing your church, the people, through your eyes. And seeing what a beautiful, beautiful mess we are.
You have put this fire in so many of your people to live and go and be the church. And these people have recognized their strengths and weaknesses, and sought your will in their lives. It’s not always perfect, but the heart and mind working together for you is a divine thing to watch. Because we are all a mess. We are all brokenhearted by the pain and injustice in the world. We all are wrestling with the hypocrisy and uncertainty felt within the Christian community. But you take all of that struggle, and combine it with your glorious purpose for each of us, and create a beautiful family. You bring together this merry band of misfits who have no business being in the same room, and bind them together with a love so consuming and illogical that it could only be called reckless. That is the church. That is the picture of your reckless love on earth. It’s your vision for us as individuals, and your vision of the kingdom.
This week, I felt my cold and jaded heart melting under the blaze of your fire. I felt the undeniable passion and transforming nature that comes from us loving each other the way we are intended to love. I saw walls come down and arms open wide as strangers met and soon embraced each other like family. I saw language barriers disappear as pure joy filled the room. I witnessed selflessness from those who have so little. I listened to difficult conversations about race, gender, and identity amongst both the people of La Mosca and our own team members. When we love each other recklessly, there is no question of who belongs and who doesn’t. And in that, we are mutually transformed as our perspectives shift and our assumptions are challenged by embracing each other fully.
If you have never been on the DR trip, I would encourage you to go. You will not regret it, and God is looking for more folks to join his story and start loving more recklessly.