A quarter of 2019 is “in the books” and as we look back as a ministry, I want to ask myself, what have we done with what God has entrusted us to do in these 90 days?
Looking back, January and February found us very busy with planning and re-organizing and fine-tuning some already established plans. Nothing wrong with that, as long as the end result is one that will bring blessing and will impact the people and the region targeted.
The Puerto Rico trip’s final plans are amazing. We are so thrilled to have a team of 40 come in July and bring a medical team, a construction team and a drama evangelism team. One of the things that excites me the most is being able to go to the town (actually more like a village) of Punta Santiago, the place where Hurricane Maria entered and believe me, you can still see the effects in the infrastructure and in the faces of the people. Folks there have encountered the furry of an F4 storm and still found a place in their hearts to care for others, looking beyond their personal needs and going to help the one, maybe – just maybe, a bit worse off than them.
I was so impressed to discover that Hurricane Maria had not only destroyed building, roads, schools and other essentials on this 6-mile-by-3-mile peninsula on the eastern side of the island, but it was also responsible for bringing down the walls that separate the different denominations of churches in Punta Santiago. I was so blessed to see the churches coming together, for the very first time, with one common goal, to help re-built Punta Santiago. Catholics, Protestants and even folks that stopped coming to church are now re-energized to help their fellow-man, in what could be Punta Santiago’s finest moment.
For our July outreach, our main contact there is the Catholic church and OTTOM is thrilled to be working with them! How amazing to see that it took a storm of that magnitude to break down the walls of division. May HIS LOVE, which goes beyond all boundaries, be the defining factor in the rebuilding of Punta Santiago, this is my prayer!
March kicked off with a trip to the Dominican Republic. This trip marked our 9th year in a row (and 11th time) in this Caribbean destination. Our main focus was a medical impact in the western side of the DR bordering the nation of Haiti.
Our very diverse team, of medical students, doctors and ministers, embarked on a journey of 8 medical clinics in 8 different sites in only 4 days. Very long days and very short nights marked the beat of this medical outreach. It was a beautiful thing to see a team like this work in concert for the purpose of bringing blessing to the people.
One of the team members, a second-year medical student of the Muslim faith, and I really connected. I knew he was coming, and I knew his beliefs, as he did ours. He knew what OTTOM is all about, he knew that we come to serve in the name of THE ONE who sends us, Jesus Christ, and still, he chose to come and serve.
He attended every devotional, prayed with us and worked alongside pastors and ministers of the Christian faith. I was so honored to have had some very unique exchanges with my new friend. I know that our LORD JESUS orchestrated this encounter and in the words of my new friend, our conversation is not over. I so look forward to meeting him again and picking up where we left off. God you create such beautiful things!
OTTOM plans to continue going to the Dominican Republic with our associates, Jose’s Hands, till God changes directs otherwise. In the last 9 years, we are so happy to inform that we have brought in over $175,000 dollars in medicine and medical equipment. So blessed to be able to be HIS hands and feet in this precious land!
April will mark our first visit of the year to the DFW area, working with our dear friend, Pastor JaMarc Davis and the Walk Church – USA. Pastor JaMarc is one of the people I admire most. This is a man that has gone through the fires of life. A lot of ups and plenty of downs and in the times of his lowest of lows, his focus was on JESUS!
JaMarc found a need and found a way to fill it! The Walk Church was born out of a need to serve the Senior and Memory Care communities of the metroplex of the Dallas/Ft Worth area. For over 5 years, JaMarc and his family and friends have traveled to numerous senior communities bringing the simple, yet powerful message of JOY to these amazing, yet (in many cases) forgotten folks.
This is all I have for now but I want to leave you with a very powerful thought. I just heard it today for the very first time (thanks to Jr. Leader, Mary Claire!) and I want OTTOM, my family and my personal life to live by these impacting words by no other than Mother Teresa:
I am a little pencil in the hands of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.
God bless you all!
Committed to make a difference,
Pastor Victor A. Cruz
President – One to the Other Ministries