Dashing for international missions

MONROE – Shiloh Baptist Church youth minister Todd Daniels has taken his youth group to the Dominican Republic five times since 2002.1

Past trips have primarily focused on vacation Bible school activities and other work within Dominican villages, with most fundraising conducted within the church’s walls. But for the church’s sixth trip, slated for June 2014, team members are doing something completely different – as they will literally take their fundraising to the streets this weekend to help provide education for more than 30 girls in a Dominican orphanage.

The team of 23 youth and adults  will host the first-ever Dash for the Dominican 5K on Saturday, March 29, in downtown Monroe. The race  will start at 8:30 a.m., with race day registration from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m.

“We decided we wanted to take a step of faith and do something where our community can get involved,” Daniels said. “Even if (someone is) not a Christian, they can do something to impact these little girls’ lives.”

Dash for the Dominican is the latest – and biggest – in the team’s “Heart for the Dominican” series of community fundraisers. Previous fundraisers have included restaurant nights at places like Chili’s and sweetFrog, selling “Heart for the Dominican” T-shirts and hosting a coffee and cocoa stand during Monroe’s Christmas tree-lighting
ceremony.

The fundraisers are helping the church raise $30,000 to cover trip expenses, as well as one year of education for 32 to 36 girls from the Pasitos de Jesus orphanage in Boca Chica.

“If you believe in education and know how important education is, you know these little girls deserve the opportunity to have an education,” Daniels said.

The inspiration to support Pasitos de Jesus came in October 2013 after the youth group heard Ron Bishop, founder of world mission organization Score International, speak about the recently established orphanage. The home was founded to rescue girls of all ages who are parentless, neglected or homeless.

Shiloh Baptist parent volunteer and race coordinator Ginger Walle said the group was especially impacted by the story of one of the orphanage’s first residents, a girl with Down syndrome whose mother was ashamed of her and kept her chained in the front yard.

“She was chained like a dog the first 10 years of her life. This little girl couldn’t even speak … she barked like a dog,” Walle said.

After learning more about Pasitos de Jesus and its mission to bring education to the girls, the team members wanted to dedicate part of their upcoming mission trip to financially supporting the orphanage, as well as ministering to the girls during their time in the Dominican. They launched the “Heart for the Dominican” fundraiser series in November and since have raised funds through community projects including yard work, home improvement projects and a barbecue dinner.

“We’ve never done a multi-month (fundraiser). It’s amazing because every day we’re just like, ‘Wow, we’re one step closer,’” Walle said. “And God’s been so good to us.”

Daniels said the group also was inspired after reading the book “The Next Christians” by Gabe Lyons, which Daniels said challenged the team to revolutionize the way First World Christians traditionally have viewed other
cultures.

“‘Next Christians’ is about doing something differently – instead of frowning on culture, creating culture,” Daniels said.

The team members have stepped up to the plate over the past several months, Daniels said, selling T-shirts, working at the fundraisers and spreading the word about the mission to people in the community. The group also has adopted the Switchfoot song “Love Alone is Worth the Fight” as a motivator to put their best foot forward.

“God really put a burden on our hearts that we can do more,” Daniels said. “We can do more by taking a good thing to our community … It’s a great cause to get
behind.”

The mission team also will host a softball tournament in April and a car wash in May. Find more information on Dash for the Dominican and other ways to support the team at www.shilohyouthmissions.com, or call 704-283-4451.

 

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