Underneath bridges and in empty lots or abandoned buildings, men and women have made homes in some of the toughest neighborhoods in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
These nidos or “nests” have become small communities for people seeking shelter from the streets and a place to get high. But they’re also places where a network of local Christian leaders are extending God’s grace to people searching for hope and meaning.
Kenia and Guillermo are leaders in this network. Kenia is a Church of God pastor. Guillermo trains teachers in the Dominican Republic Christian Reformed school system. Both received training from the Center for Transformation Mission, a Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) partner, to reach out to people often ignored by the church.
“The trainings have enabled Kenia and Guillermo to celebrate signs of God’s grace in the midst of the chaos and suffering of the street,” says Joel Huyser, a CRWM missionary in Central America.
“It has also connected them for encouragement, learning, and collaboration with others who are ministering with the ‘least, last, and lost’ of Santo Domingo.”
Kenia and Guillermo have nurtured a vision in their church for the “least, last, and lost.” Church members are actively building relationships with people in the nidos, and the church has helped people enter treatment centers for their drug addictions.
Several people have become Christians through the church’s witness. Now some of them are leaders in the church themselves and are reaching out to others caught in the nidos.
CRWM is involved in similar transformation networks in places such as El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Nigeria. Networks are also starting in Canada, Romania, and Mexico.
Each centers on two questions. First, what does the good news of Jesus look like here and now? Second, how is God calling us to work together to make this a reality in our community, city, and nation?
Responses to the questions vary by location. For Kenia, Guillermo, and others in the Dominican Republic, it means ministering in nidos. For Christian government leaders in Abuja, Nigeria, the response includes leading with integrity.
But the goal of transformation networks remains the same: to identify, encourage, equip, and connect Christian leaders for Christ-centered renewal in lives, communities, and culture.
Through a growing chain of networks, people and communities are being changed through practical applications of the gospel in their contexts.