Last Sunday I had the privilege of preaching at the church (Iglesia no Denominacional Justificados en la Cruz) we help sponsor in the Haitian slums (Batey Central) of Barahona, Dominican Republic. It’s a young church, planted a few years ago by Wilkyns Chal, a godly Dominican that lives in the Batey. His church is young, made up primarily of kids and teenagers associated with the school that accompanies the church there. It’s quite a contrast from what you’d normally associate with a church: they have no building of their own (meeting in the school classrooms), no money, no influence. The church is made up primarily of Haitian kids and young people, many with no legal standing in the Dominican Republic. And yet the church is filled with possibilities. Here is a summary of my message to them:
How many of you like baseball (it’s the national pastime in the Dominican Republic)? In the United States, I am a coach for my son’s five-year-old baseball team. I know a little bit about baseball, but not that much. I am not good enough to play in the major leagues. How many of you know David Ortiz (also known as Big Papi, a Dominican hero that plays for the Boston Red Sox)? What if Big Papi came through riding in the Batey in his little moto and he came up to Leonarda (one of the girls) and said, “I want you to play with me on the Boston Red Sox?” Do you ever think that would happen? The reality is, many of us would like to play, but most of us will never be good enough to play at that level. We may have a dream, but we don’t think that this dream will ever become a reality.
The reason I want to talk to you about baseball today is because just like many of us have a dream about playing baseball but deep down we know it will never happen, many of us have a dream that God will use us to do big things in life, but deep down we don’t suspect that it will ever happen. This church might think God would never use it to do big things. You don’t have enough money, enough influence, enough education, enough Bible education, or the right nationality (since they’re Haitians living in the Dominican Republic). If you’ve ever had a dream that God might use you but you’re afraid it could never come true, I want to encourage you today.
Wilkyns has taught you about the disciples: Peter, John, Matthew, James, etc. These are the twelve men that started the church, that spread from Israel to Europe to the Dominican Republic and America and all around the world. You would think that these men would have been important men, educated men, rich men, influential men. But they weren’t. They weren’t influential. They didn’t have any big posters like the ones you see on the road advertising all the presidential candidates. They weren’t rich. Most were common fisherman. They weren’t educated. They were from Galilee, a part of the country that people looked down on just like people here look down on the Batey.In Acts 2, you see the Holy Spirit come down on the disciples in power and they preach with boldness. In Acts 3, they heal a man crippled from birth, and a crowd gathers around because of the miracle. Peter again preaches boldly and many more begin to believe. The religious leaders were very angry about this. They thought they had finished Christianity when they killed Jesus. So they arrested Peter and John and threatened them. In Acts 4, all of the religious leaders gathered together to intimidate the disciples. When Peter and John appeared before the Sanhedrin, it was just as scary as if you Willie (an 8 year old undocumented Haitian) were called to testify before the entire Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic. But Peter once again preached boldly before the religious leaders. Acts 4:12-13 says, “‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.’ When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, the were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
The disciples were uneducated and ordinary, and yet God used them to launch the church. If God could use them, he can use you. Willie, are you the president of the Dominican Republic? [No]. Do you believe in Jesus? [Yes]. Then you can be just like Peter. Lady, are you a millionaire? [No]. Does Jesus live inside of you? [Yes]. Then you can be just like John. Julio, do you own all the businesses in the Batey and ride the biggest moto? [No]. Do you believe in Jesus? [Yes]. Then you can be just like Peter. God using you in the world isn’t dependent on how much you own, how influential or how pretty you are. It’s determined by whether the Spirit of God lives inside of you. If God can use the disciples, he can use you! (They actually spontaneously clapped here, something I don’t even get in the States!)
When this church started, the vision wasn’t just to have some services and to fill up a room. The vision was to change the Batey, to preach Jesus, to deliver people from the evil one, to make disciples, and to bring life to others. The vision is bigger than this church alone. This church can one day send missionaries from this place to change the Batey, change Barahona, change the Dominican Republic and change Haiti for Jesus.
Willie, if Big Papi came through the Batey tomorrow, would you ask for his autograph? [Yes]. That’s because success in this world is determined by how much you own and how successful you are. But in heaven, Willie, things are different. If you follow after Jesus and spend your life telling others about Him, then in heaven, Big Papi’s going to come up to you to get your autograph. God wants to use you to change the world!