Our mission here at Church of the Open Door is “Leading people on the adventure of becoming like Christ,” and I just absolutely love that word adventure. I love this idea of following Christ being something daring and exhilarating, unknown even. Everyone’s adventure turns out a little different, but the beautiful thing is that we’re all on it together. Our bond as the body of Christ, and as Church of the Open Door, too, spans across borders.
Christmas morning this year went a little differently than previous years. My sister, Lea, and I spent our Christmas in the Dominican Republic, celebrating and documenting the grand opening of Open Door DR’s new church building. So instead of opening presents Christmas morning, we cleaned the church and made gallons and gallons of ginger tea in anticipation of the celebration that was to take place that evening.
Now, we thought we knew how to clean floors: grab a broom, sweep up the dirt, grab a bucket and mop and go. So when Pastor Tito’s wife, Sugeili, and a few other friends we had met started pouring dish soap and buckets of water all over the floor, and then grabbed brooms, we were confused.
When in the DR though, right? So we slipped off our shoes, grabbed a broom and joined in, scrubbing the floor and sweeping the water toward the street while another girl, Andreina, followed behind us with a giant squeegee. We never should’ve doubted their ways; that floor sparkled when we were done.
After we finished cleaning, we helped make some ginger tea. With standard construction hammers, we stood at the counter in the kitchen smashing tiny pieces of ginger root (breaking it open helps to release more flavor) and tossing it into huge metal pots full of hot water and cinnamon. We also managed to launch pieces across the room periodically after hitting them a little too hard…
In the evening, we met with people from the church at the old building to pray for that evening’s celebration. There were adults and children in glittering costumes holding ribbons and flags, as well as people in plain clothes, all gathered to thank God for the blessing of this new building and to pray for the future of Church of the Open Door in the Dominican Republic.
Then, the party really started, and it wasn’t like any party my sister or I had ever been to before. We all gathered outside of the new church building and then proceeded to walk seven laps around the block, clapping and singing. In between each lap, different groups from the church performed choreographed worship dances, in the middle of the street. The music was blaring out of the church building, and all the cars just casually drove around us.
At about lap three or so, a man named Lenin, who I had met the previous night at Christmas Eve dinner, asked me how I liked the celebration so far.
“I love it! We’d never be able to have a party like this back home. Someone would complain about the noise or blocking the streets or something. This is awesome!” I replied.
“Do you know why we’re doing the seven laps? Like what it means?” he asked me.
“Sort of. Its modeled after Joshua and the Battle of Jericho, right?”
“Yes, so don’t shout after that seventh lap!” We laughed.
He went on, “It’s more than just that though. In the same way that God delivered Jericho into the hands of the Israelites, God delivered this building to us. Just like the Israelites, we’re conquering and taking hold of what God has blessed us with.”
What a cool way to celebrate, don’t you think? Modeling a moment in Scripture to thank God for this new building. As we continued our laps, more and more people from the community began to join in and gather back at the church building. Finally, after lap number seven, with sore feet and joyful hearts, we entered the church!
God provided for our church family members in an amazing way in the Dominican Republic, allowing them to continue to lead people on the adventure of becoming like Christ. From the owner not wanting to originally sell the building, to him changing his mind, to our congregation here in the States praying and taking the 20/20 vision seriously enough to make this dream a reality, God was at work in and through it all. He has been so faithful in blessing Pastor Tito and his church. Let the adventure continue!
Amen & Hallelujah.