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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Celebrating the Dedication of the Ranchito Church Santuary


video
What a blessing to participate in the dedication service of the Iglesia Cristiana de la Comunidad de Ranchito.  The children's choir welcomed the 350+ members and guests that afternoon.  It was the culmination of many years of hard work and partnership for this congregation.

It was maybe 9 or ten years ago that Pastor Joselo Toribio had first invited me to minister in his church in Ranchito.  I was blessed by this congregation meeting under the tiny carport.  There were about 25 adults and children crowded under the roof and they were excited about their faith!  It reminded me of the "first love" enthusiasm of new Christians.  These humble folk, mostly rice 



farmers, had such a sincerity as they sang, and testified during the service.  The presence of God was almost palpable.  


Pastor Toribio and his lovely family
Later the congregation moved into what had been the Pastor's home, while he finished an apartment above this building for his family.   However when Tropical Storm Noel (this link will take you to a video our studio made back then) came through in 2007, water rose six feet high in their sanctuary, causing them to rent another location on higher ground (the river rose only three feet in the new location).  The new location provided more room for growth and soon they had 50 coming out on a Sunday morning. Then they began to feel cramped there also, so they moved to a covered disco with no walls.  If it didn't rain they could handle about 125 there.  It meant every Sunday setting up chairs and sound for the service.  And there was the added discomfort of some rabid guard dogs chained at the disco that gave them some safety concerns.

Meanwhile, by faith, about 4 years ago your missionaries decided to commit personally to buy a piece of land to help this fellowship.  It was a big step of faith for us.  We needed to raise $25,000.00 US in three years.  It meant four balloon payments (including the down payment) of a little more than $6000.00 US. We had nothing in our savings account, but fortunately there was some faith in our heavenly account.  The Lord was faithful in helping us to do this.  The final payment was paid by a church, The Chapel at the Beach, Rosemary  Beach, Florida.
Pastor Michael Young at the dedication

I remember they had called two weeks before the payment was due.  We had almost nothing on hand, I could perhaps pull together $1000.00 from all my sources, and they called to tell me that they would provide some matching funds if we could raise half of what was missing.  We were so busy at the time.  The day before the call came I had sent out a newsletter and email letting everyone know what we had been doing the last two months.  Honestly, I didn't even have time to respond to the church's great offer.  We were building a church in another area of the province.  I didn't even have time to worry about the deadline coming up.  I should have been worried, but God was covering me with His grace.  If the payment was not made on time, extra interest would accrue and a new contract would have to be negotiated, or worst case scenario, the owner would take the property back and keep the money we had already invested. The next day the church called again.  They said that they had noticed we looked pretty busy and they had decided to take back their offer, now they



wanted to send the whole amount that was lacking for the land purchase.  Yes, they were going to pay the last
The Dedication Service in the New Building
balloon payment!  I couldn't believe my ears.  It wasn't to help me, it was for that wonderful congregation.  They had developed a great relationship over the last few years with Pastor Joselo and his people.  In fact they wanted to help build a new church for the congregation.  This was amazing.  This Florida church meets in a community center in their town and pays rent for its use.  They don't have their own building, but they were willing to raise funds to have a church built in the Ranchito community for Pastor Joselo and his congregation.  The vision for their church included the idea of freeing up funds from building and institutional expenses so they could impact the world through missions.  They were living what they believed. 

After sending some construction people and a couple architects from their church to look at the land,
The sign above reads "With God Nothing is Impossible"
they started the project.  Plans were drawn up and I was asked to oversee the building project.  Less than a year later this building is up and functioning.  Pastor Toribio and his congregation now number 150.  The sanctuary may be divided later (to accomodate Sunday school classrooms), but it is built to handle 400.  Saturday, June 29th, the church celebrated a Dedication Service.  On hand was a delegation from the U.S. church, including their pastor Michael Young.  The building was packed out that day, to the glory of God. Five days later the congregation showed a Christian film at the church and over five hundred people were on hand for the viewing.  Next week, the Good Pastor Christian School will be having their graduation in this building.
Pastor Joselo  and friends at the Dedication of the Iglesia Cristiana De La Communidad de Ranchito


If you or your church want to help a poor struggling congregation, let us know.  You too can make a difference!  By sending construction teams, funds, and short-term missionaries.  Email us at mitch@dominicanmissions.org.


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