CHURCH & MINISTRY
Compassion International in the Dominican Republic
The Leadership Development Program
By Gwen Sellers
As you may have read, the Got Questions team recently joined Compassion International on a "Vision Experience" trip to the Dominican Republic. We were privileged to see glimpses of each type of work Compassion currently does there. One program that is particularly intriguing to me is their Leadership Development Program ("LDP"). It is essentially child sponsorship through the university years. Children who demonstrate leadership potential in the Child Development Sponsorship Program are asked to apply for the LDP. And, for $300 per month, students are enabled to receive a university education as well as leadership training from Compassion church partners. Sometimes the person or family who has sponsored them as a child will continue to sponsor them through university, but often due to the large cost differential the child will receive a new sponsor for the LDP years. We met with two very impressive LDP students while in the DR.
One, a 20-year-old woman, is studying to become a doctor. She has two-and-a-half years remaining to become a general practitioner; then she'll serve in the Dominican Republic for one year, and then plans to study in the U.S. or France to become a cardio-vascular surgeon. She says that most local doctors are all about making money and she hopes to return to the Dominican Republic and provide affordable care to really help the people there. She was accomplished in many other ways as well, speaking fluent English and also studying French. Not only does she attend school six days per week, she works nine hours a week. She claims she's tired, but in our time with her she was nothing but passion and energy. Her eyes shone and there is no doubt in my mind that she will become a physician and make a huge difference in peoples' lives.
The other, a 23-year-old man, is working toward a business degree. He has one year left. He hopes to open a foundation to be able to give back to others and help them in the same way that Compassion has helped him. Currently he's also involved with a ministry that serves about 150 youth, including teaching them to play musical instruments. So he is quite the busy man himself. His story is neat because he started university with a different major. When he felt God prompting him to go the business route, he had to receive approval from Compassion and also work things out with his sponsor. He told us that his sponsor was extremely encouraging. Not only did the family agree to pay for extra years of education, they told him they trusted him and his decision. Their vote of confidence gave him the boost he needed to trust God's plan and make a huge shift. He also told us some about his time as a sponsored child and about his family. Business makes sense for him; as a child he would collect and return recyclables to make money for his family until he was accepted into a Compassion program. The same sponsors he has now supported him during that time, and their relationship is close.
What struck me about both of these students was their passion to serve. Clearly both are very capable and willing to put in the work to achieve their dreams. But their dreams aren't about them. They are not pursuing their chosen studies for the prestige or financial benefits of their intended careers. They are studying so that they can better help others, to give back what they have received. Honestly, meeting these two challenged my own journey. How often am I more focused on myself than I am on others? When I'm busy with school and work, do I even consider investing in relationship through ministry? How often is what I do about me and how it will make me look, instead of about what it will equip me to do? Am I willing to sacrifice time and energy to pursue hard after God and the things He has called me to?
These students are a picture of the ways in which Compassion is changing lives for the glory of God. They are secure in God's call on their lives and eager to serve Him and others.
Sponsoring a student through the Leadership Development Program is an excellent opportunity for an office or a small group. Consider sponsoring an LDP student today.
Photo Credit: The future cardio-vascular surgeon; MeLissa LeFleur
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