Brad Chester, a guy from small town Elk City Oklahoma, and I, Parker Watkins from Fayetteville Arkansas, got an amazing opportunity last year to experience God in Memphis Tennessee as we attended the Emerging Leaders program with Downline Ministires. Little did we know that this year would not only impact our hearts the way it did but also be used by God to impact our very lives as well. As we began to pray for the world and understand what it meant to make disciples, He called us to live in a place we had never been before.
August 5th came a lot faster than we expected and we touched down in this beautiful, yet uncharted territory called Sosua, Dominican Republic. Every day here has been an adventure and you honestly never know what the Lord is going to throw your way. Some days a quick errand turns into meeting a man with a dying wife, 6 kids, and no money. Other days you might think that you are going to meet someone to discuss a simple topic of interest and due to the lack of communication you end up taking a 2 hour boat ride somewhere. The more I live here the more I think that Forrest guy might have been on to something when he said “Life is like a box of chocolates…”
Brad and I are so grateful just to get to be a part of what God is doing in the Dominican Republic. We have a Downline Institute here in the DR that meets everyday for one week a month, and this year have 58 students attending from all over the region! With the help of a Canadian, Bill Stephenson, a local Memphian, Dr Chris Rowland, and our amazing friend and Haitian translator, Roosevelt, we are able to teach the word of God and what it means to make disciples to Haitian brothers and sisters. We are also in the process of starting a jobs training school that will teach these men and women how to fish. We will teach cage fishing, hand line fishing, and your traditional rod and reel. Our goal is to fulfill the old adage “Give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day, teach him to fish and he can eat for a lifetime.” When we leave here we want to know that our new friends have 2 things: A way to provide for their families through some type of skill, and they know the bible and can make disciples wherever they are. Going through the Emerging leaders program gave us great perspective on the world, what our role on this earth is, and equipped us to make disciples and teach this year in the Downline DR Institute. We hope that in training these men and women we will be able to work ourselves out of a “job”. We want this to be a Haitian ministry and are praying for our leaders to rise up and take it over so that we can be used somewhere else.
You can follow Brad and Parker’s life in the DR here: http://www.bradandparker.blogspot.com/