Christian Reformed World Missions' (CRWM) strategic priorities in the Dominican Republic are healthy local churches and community transformation. We work with partners to achieve these priorities while expanding our team’s impact by nurturing a missional community of related ministries. As more interaction and cooperation develops within this community, more of our vision and mission is fulfilled.
The CRCNA team in the Dominican Republic (DR) is made up of Stephen and Sandra Brauning, Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) career missionaries in the DR since 1991, Betty and Robert Wood, representing both CRWM and World Renew, and several volunteer and partner missionaries. The missionaries often serve as consultants or in supporting roles with partner missions.
The Christian Reformed Church in the Dominican Republic (ICRRD) includes 186 congregations, 125 ordained pastors and over 12,000 people. The church has grown and matured through national leadership on the local, regional, and denominational levels. National level ministries include the Reformed Bible Institute, church planting and growth, diaconal ministry, youth, women’s, and family ministry, the National Ministry Center, and church construction. All are 100% run by national leaders.
COCREF (Christian Reformed Schools) runs 16 schools, including five high schools, with a total student population over 4,000. COCREF employs over 200 national staff and is led and directed by a strong national governing board. The assocation's goal is to provide quality, affordable Christian education to children from the ICRRD and surrounding communities. An estimated 10,000 people are directly impacted by this ministry.
Community development organizations in our network serve in 32 communities, impacting about 2,000 people through programs supported by World Renew. The main community development programs are literacy, water projects, micro credit, diaconal outreach, social justice, and community savings.
The impact of long-term commitment and broad-ranging ministries is seen in lives, families, and communities that have been transformed by the power of the Gospel. The church and leadership have also caught this Kingdom-vision and are seeking to carry it out.
Partner missionary teachers from the CRCNA play a vital role in reaching hundreds of children with English-language Christian education at Santiago Christian School.
Here is a snapshot of some recent ministry developments (2011):
- The Strategy for Transformation, one of the ministries of our CRWM team, has three groups of grassroots Christian leaders in the Dominican Republic and one in Haiti being trained to reach out to at-risk youth. Mario Matos, a CRC pastor, is the Caribbean director of this cutting-edge ministry.
- Church construction projects, involving teams and donations from North America, assisted in 11 projects in 2011, including six church buildings, four pastors’ homes, and one ministry center project. Local churches and pastoral ministries are strengthened through projects done in partnership.
- Church Planting: Support for strategic church planting has borne fruit in two areas: first, in Las Mercedes, Pedernales, a remote mountainous area near the Haitian border, where a new regional grouping of Christian Reformed Churches has developed. Second, in the tourist region of Bávaro/Punta Cana on the DR's extreme eastern end. A church-plant there is in its third year, has an ordained pastor, Martín Ovíl, and has now started a Christian school.
- Christian School psychologists in the Christian Reformed Schools of the DR have a significant impact on students. Many of the students come from homes suffering from various forms of disintegration, such as domestic violence, drug abuse, and divorce. Melba Hidalgo, the psychologist team leader, and the other psychologists have shared testimonies of children starving for affection and love, of students becoming strong Christian witnesses in their troubled homes, and of students being counseled during personal crises.
Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) serves in partnership with the Christian Reformed Church in the Dominican Republic (ICRRD), Christian Reformed Schools in the Dominican Republic (COCREF), and the Center for Transforming Mission (CTM). Together, they come alongside national leaders and ministries in providing support, training, and grants for ministry and contributing to the development of healthy churches and community transformation. Specific ministry areas include leadership training through the Reformed Bible Institute of the DR, Timothy Leadership Training, and the Strategy for Transformation; community and economic development through agricultural, literacy, community savings, diaconal ministry and relief work; Christian school development and support, institutional development with partners, etc.
Learn more about CRWM projects in the Dominican Republic. Not from Canada or the US? Click on either country.
Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) began work in the Dominican Republic in the mid 1970s through contacts made with the Back to God Hour (now called Back to God Ministries International). During initial visits to the field, CRWM missionaries from Puerto Rico found several small congregations in sugar cane plantation villages that had already identified themselves as Christian Reformed. In 1980, the the first resident CRWM missionaries, Ray and Gladys Brinks, arrived in the Dominican Repbulic. God used them and those who followed to assist in the beginning of a national denomination, the Christian Reformed Church in the Dominican Republic (La Iglesia Cristiana Reformada en la Republica Dominicana, ICRRD). Regional groupings of congregations were organized around the country as well as a joint central committee of missionaries and national leaders, and various national-level ministries.
The first contacts were with Haitian immigrants who worked in the sugar cane industry. The church grew rapidly from 11 congregations in 1981 to over 150 by 1990, mostly among the Haitian community living in the rural plantations, small towns, and urban slums where the immigrants and subsequent generations hold low economic level jobs and social status.
CRWM's approach from the very beginning was to build a holistic ministry that reflected the breadth of God's Kingdom. Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) came on board in 1982, placing staff and participating in a “Word and Deed” strategy to address the extreme needs in the communities where the ICRRD was spreading. Economic development as well as literacy programs began to offer church leaders, members, and communities self-sufficiency and progress.
Seeing that many of communities did not have access to any schools, missionaries partnered with local pastors and teachers to start Christian schools in several of the churches. At first, missionaries organized and taugt classes in the chuches. Then, local teachers were identified and trained. By 1990, over 20 schools had begun. Today, COCREF, Colegios Cristianos Reformados (Christian Reformed Schools) educates over 4,500 students. Read more about Hope Rising, Lifting Students up on the Dominican Republic, a COCREF program.
The CRWM and CRWRC mission team grew to a peak of nearly 20 expatriates in the mid-1990s, steadily reducing as national leaders moved into key roles formerly held by missionaries. Throughout the years, the mission team’s strategy has focused on developing local leadership and nationally-led institutions in church, schools, and communities. Other areas that have been developed include medical missions, emergency relief work, Bible distribution, university level education, and construction.
- Population: 9,650,000 (2009 estimate)
- Languages: National language: Spanish. Haitian Creole spoken widely by Haitian immigrant community
- Religions: Official religion: Roman Catholic +/- 75%; evangelical (all) +/-20%; other: 5%
- Date entered by World Missions: resident missionaries: 1980
- Number of World Missions workers: 2
- Ministry emphasis: church growth and development, Christian school ministry, mobilize CRCNA, and community transformation.
- Location of work: country-wide
- Partners: Christian Reformed Church in the Dominican Rep. (ICRRD), Christian Schools of the DR(COCREF), Center for Transforming Mission (CTM).
Visit the World Factbook for more information on the Dominican Republic.