Dominican Republic Mission -- Keith Dwyer

I am thankful, humbled and absolutely exhilarated by what I experienced on my musical mission trip to the Dominican Republic. God worked wonderful blessings and miracles in the lives of many people through our MOST Ministries team of eight. We got underway a day late as our scheduled flight from Detroit to Miami was cancelled. The next day we were routed through Puerto Rico and I witnessed an amazing sunset with beautiful cloud formations as we flew west from San Juan to Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Music breaks down barriers

Our team taught classes in choir/voice, guitar, keyboard and worship principles to people from 3 churches. We taught one group in Santiago (a city of a million people) and the other in Palmar Arriba (a poor, rural village of 4,000 people). I taught large group worship classes in both locations and had the benefit of having a translator for all my sessions.

We also taught 2 daytime seminars in how to use Kindermusik techniques (song, rhythm and movement) with Gospel songs for 50 professional caregivers who serve the mentally and physically impaired. It was a blessing to see these ladies assimilate the material and absolutely wonderful to think that they will be communicating the Gospel in song to hundreds of families and ultimately thousands of people through their work!

I worked closely with 2 Haitian men who came up from Santo Domingo to take part in our workshops. These guys were so eager to learn anything that I could teach them about worship and music! I was able to communicate with them using French, Spanish and English. We agreed that Jesus had broken down the barriers between us (rich/poor, black/white, language differences, etc.) and celebrated our unity in Christ. I was able to pray over them and encourage them with Bible verses before we parted.

Tremendous progress

God worked wonderfully through our classes. At first, most of our voice students sang in a loud, enthusiastic monotone.  A few of the guitar students had held a guitar before, but only one of the keyboard students had ever had a piano lesson. The students were so enthusiastic, attentive and willing to do anything we said.

At our final “concierto” we were so thankful that most of our choir students could match pitches, the guitar students could play 10 - 12 chords and the piano students could play basic chords in 3 or 4 keys. The choir sang a 3 part round (“Padre, Te Adoro”) accompanied by the guitaristas. When we gave out certificates of completion, you could see the self-esteem growing within the students as they were recognized before the group. Parents and neighbors applauded enthusiastically, as they were truly proud of these kids and their accomplishments. The students will cherish these certificates, as they may be the only official piece of paper that they have with their name on it.

Didn’t want to stop worshipping

Some of the highlights of my classes included teaching Spanish worship songs that were very well received by the participants. They liked one of the songs (“Hosana”) so much that they wouldn’t let me go on with my talk until we had sung it 4 or 5 times in succession.

Another song I brought with me (The Horse and Rider) was a 3-part round that I had learned in Spanish over 25 years ago, but had recently taught to my daughter in our morning prayer times. They loved it and asked for it to be sung at the end of our final “concierto.”  While teaching about Biblical worship, participants were eager to clap, raise their hands, play instruments, dance and joyfully praise the Lord. When I invited them to bow and kneel while singing a song of consecration directly to the Lord, I could sense the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit coming down upon us, leading us to penitently lay our lives before Jesus. When the session ended, a group of them continued to pray and sing for awhile, not wanting to leave.

Following the Spirit’s lead

In many situations, the Holy Spirit directed my speech and actions. When one of the men connected to the rural church told me that he hadn’t eaten in awhile, I was devastated. Though I had a granola bar with me, we had been asked not to give food, money or gifts to the people we were working with, so as not to undermine the work of the local church. When I asked God what I could give him, I was directed to lead him in the Lord’s Prayer (Padre Nuestro). When we got to “give us this day our daily bread,” I stopped and told him that if he would ask his Heavenly Father every day for provision, that God would take care of him. I believe he understood me.

In another situation, a blind woman asked me if she would be able to see if I prayed with her. Wow! The Lord led me to tell her that if she would believe in Jesus as her Savior, she would be with Him forever in heaven and be able to see everything. I asked a church member who was with me to share with her the words to a song that we had sung during the week, “Open Our/My Eyes, Lord” (“Abre Mis Ojos”), and also to tell her that the most important thing in this life is to see Jesus with the eyes of faith. After I prayed with the woman, she was deeply moved and grabbed onto me and wouldn’t let me go for awhile.

Thank you for your prayers and support. I couldn’t have done any of this without you! So much was provided to these Dominicanos through you – rhythm sticks and hand-held percussion, guitars, strings, scarves for caregivers, a case of Spanish hymnals (I cried when I saw our choir class stand up in front of the congregation, joyfully singing out of their new books)!, etc. You also gave us an opportunity to share the life-changing Word of God as we imparted new vision and hope to churches in Santo Domingo, Santiago and Palmar Arriba. You also enabled us to share the Gospel that sets men, women, boys and girls free.  What a joy it was to teach music and worship while freely sharing the Good News of Jesus!

It is my prayer that you will grow in faith and joy as you use the gifts, skills and resources that God has blessed you with to give Him glory! Thank you for blessing my life so wonderfully and making a powerful difference in the lives of these others through partnering in this musical mission to the Dominican Republic.