How would you describe the mission of our partner in the Dominican Republic?
Caminante is a non-profit with a really big heart. They work in an urban beach town on the south-eastern coast of the Dominican Republic. Their mission is to listen and respond to the needs of the community. Caminante focuses on education for kids, vocational training for adults, advocacy for human rights, and building a stronger community here in Boca Chica.
How do you fit into their mission?
I see my role here as first and foremost a listener. My colleagues know the environment through years of first-hand experience. I am a better missionary when I can channel their wisdom. Secondly, I am using my experiences from Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) church camps as well. Church camps have given me confidence in my ability to bring smiles and energy to Caminante. Thirdly, I am present here in both body and mind so that my hands might serve a higher purpose.
What led you to engage in this calling?
God has been working within me for this calling for many years. It took some time for me to realize and respond to what God was saying; but in the end God brought me around to where I am today. I am the son of two Disciples pastors who raised me with an appreciation for other cultures and ways of living. In addition to my parents, I was raised in a very diverse community called Decatur in the Atlanta metropolitan area. This diversity, stemming from recent and ongoing immigration, gave me a wonderful launching point from which to seek my path. My path had a widespread theme throughout: Travelling not to see the sights for aesthetic value, but to see in the eyes of the inhabitants their true needs and desires. I began to understand that true fulfillment for me would only come from engaging in the wider world and allowing the wider world to engage in me. Indeed, I'm still not sure as I write this if I'm engaging in the calling to ministry, or if the calling to ministry is engaging in me.
Is there a passage of scripture that carries special meaning in your daily work?
Micah 6:8 What does the lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God?
It is incredibly important to maintain humility and kindness as you work with others. Every step you take is important when you represent others or when you are granted responsibility to perform actions in the name of others.
What are some of the challenges facing the people of the Dominican Republic, our partner, or yourself?
Challenges for Caminante include: Immigration problems related to persons of Haitian origin, violence inflicted upon children in their homes, and sexual trafficking of young women in the Dominican urban areas. Caminante also is operating in a country without a strong Social Services Department. The government's programs are underfunded and as such the Dominican public at large turns to the church and other non-profits for assistance.
What is a lesson you have learned from our partner that you feel should be shared with churches in the U.S.?
In spite of all the challenges listed above, Caminante is still here. I wish to share a lesson from my first day here on the job that I believe illustrates why this team is capable of facing up to the challenges of our environment. I was greeted warmly when I first walked into the lively Caminante office here in Boca Chica. The staff emerged from their offices to greet me and welcome me. I could tell immediately that this was a really tight knit group that loved each other immensely.The staff played off each other with ease and really fed off each other’s energy with a passion that only comes from time and love. I am so honored to be a part of their work here in Boca Chica!
Which books have influenced your understanding of your country, work, or theology (choose 3-6):
Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC. Buechner, Frederick
Learn more through Henry's blog Stepping Out on Faith.Find out more about our mission work in: