What do you think of when you hear the words slum or squatter city? You probably think of an extremely poor and impoverished area in another part of the world. While this is true, the reality is that it is so much more heartbreaking than you can imagine. Worldwide, there are over a billion people that call these squatter slums home. That is nearly one-sixth of the world’s population, and the number is steadily increasing. The sad reality of this is that many of them are children—children with no shoes and tattered clothing using buckets as toilets and who carry water in jugs just to have it to drink; children whose houses are made of cinder block with dirt floors, tin roofs, and no front door.
When you think of the Dominican Republic, the first thing that usually comes to mind are sandy beaches, nice vacations, and sunny weather. While those are all true, there is a whole other side to the country that is full of poverty, hunger, lack of education, drugs, prostitution, and unclean water. The adults and children have to walk through mud and trash filled streets. Many of them have no electricity or running water.
After having the opportunity to serve in both the Dominican Republic and South Africa, I saw these things up close and realized how the children are affected by it. My heart was touched in a way I never thought possible. Children who literally have nothing can find joy in the tiniest of things. They are happy, giggling, smiling, and excited about anything that is given to them, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem from our perspective. It was one of the greatest blessings in my life to be able to spend time with such special kids. To see them run to me and want me to brush their hair, paint their nails, or just have me hold them definitely changed my outlook on poverty in the world. As Pastor Andrew said in one of his sermons, “The Kingdom has been shared WITH us, now it needs to be shared BY us.”
The Call to Mercy Hill
Not everyone is called to go out on a mission team, but everyone is called to be on mission for God wherever you might live. This is why Mercy Hill is offering an amazing opportunity for all of us this Christmas season. You will be able to bless some of the children who are living in squatter slums in the Dominican Republic. Mercy Hill is partnering with Vision Trust to provide backpacks for the kids and teachers at Herrera School. These backpacks will be filled with school supplies and personal items with a message that reads “El Evangelio Cambia Todo” or for us “The Gospel Changes Everything.” You will have the opportunity to choose the gender and age range for a child at the school and fill the bag for them. We also ask that you pray for the child that will receive your bag as you fill it.
This project is a great way to teach your kids about living on mission but is also fun for adults as well. You will also be given the opportunity to hand deliver the bags to the children yourself by joining our March 4th – 10th mission team to the Dominican Republic. The Mercy Hill team will be taking, on that specific trip, all the bags that were donated. This opportunity (The Mission Pack Project) is set to launch on November 11th at our Family Worship Night. If you are unable to attend, packs will be available at both campuses on November 13th, 20th, and 27th. The final collection day is December 4th.
We hope that you will join us in this wonderful opportunity to bless these kids in a small way by showing them God’s amazing love for us no matter where and under what circumstances we live in this world.
-Molly Voss (Missions Associate)