What Makes A Church Grow?

What makes a church grow?  There have been all kinds of studies on this.  You can take college courses on this topic.  My simply idea is that people come to church to get two basic questions answered: What is the purpose of this life, and what will happen to me when I die.  I believe that religions exist fundamentally in order to attempt to answer those two questions.

Those two questions can be manifested in many different forms, but they all come down to the same two basic questions.  Someone might wonder, where did I come from. That really is just an attempt to gain insight into the why am I hear, and what will happen to me when I die. The logic is, if I can figure out where I came from, or how I got here, then I might gain some insight on why I’m here and what happens when I die.

I believe that all people ask themselves those two questions at some point in their lives.  Some people don’t spend a lot of time on them, but other’s spend all of their life looking for the answers in some form or fashion.

Anyway, people get involved in religion in hopes of answering these two questions.  If a church is providing good answers to these two questions, then people will come and stay.

I am convinced that Jesus Christ answers these two questions better than any other religion.  If a church is doing a good job of explaining how Jesus is THE answer to these two questions, people will come.

Back Again

IBM has given me an award (Sales Eminence Award) which includes funds that can be used for travel.  The amount is enough to buy round trip plane tickets to Santo Domingo and have some money left over.  Connie and I plan to use this for a return trip in August.  We’re still wondering if we include a day or two of side travel someplace.  We’ll see about that, but we are thanking God for this special blessing to be able to return yet this year.

I am looking forward to the water purification plant being in operation then and being able to see it.

Thank you God!

Looking back

Some reflections on my trip to the DR.

First of all, what did I miss the most?

  • Being able to drink water from the faucet, that is not dragging around a water bottle in order to have clean water to drink.
  • A fast Internet connection.  Interestingly, I’m not satisfied with just having access to the Internet, it has to be a fast connection.  Very spoiled.

Secondly, I’m very proud of my wife.  The people in the DR just love her.  She works hard at what she is doing there, and she has worked very hard to learn some Spanish. She has also been blogging – her blog will provide a view of Juan Tomas from a different and more important perspective.  See http://partnersnchrist.org/blogs/berean_2012.html


More Internet access

I spent the day pulling a cable from the old computer room in the elementary building and into the library. I realize that means pretty much nothing to anyone who’s never been here (and maybe close to nothing for many who have been here). Basically it was hot hard work, but I was rewarded in that the wire connected to the switch and I could reach the Internet from the library. That means we can hook up three PCs in the library and put a wireless access point there and provide wireless Internet to the teachers’ apartments. We really thought we’d get one or the other and today we got both.

Unfortunately, the key to the hight school was locked away where no one could get it so I couldn’t get the equipment I needed to complete the job.  It will take about 30 minutes to wrap it all up once the equipment is available, but it looks like that will be done by someone else (Joel most likely) after I’m gone.  Our flight leaves at 7AM tomorrow.  So I’m somewhat disappointed that I couldn’t see this completed, but I got so much more done than I really expected to I’m really pretty thrilled.

I thank God for his help this week.  Things went better than I had imagined.

Sunday in Juan Tomas

We went to church today.  It was so encouraging to see so many (at least 30) at church and most of them young people.  The service was really like our Sunday school, just teaching by Paul.  When lively discussion broke out between these school teachers and administrators I was thrilled.  I didn’t know what they were saying by I knew they were passionately discussing God’s word and their beloved savior.

After church I had took some time to meet with Joel about how we could extend the network.  We agreed on a plan that will provide Internet access to the library and the teachers’ apartments.  If we are able to pull this off tomorrow, we will have far exceeded my expectations.  I’m thanking God to have the help of and support of Joel  He is a tremendous blessing to this community.

Thank you God for allowing me to be involved with your people in your work!

Happy Day!

I am making this post form the computer lab in the high school in Juan Tomas.  Getting Internet access here in the high school was the major objective we had.  Its been a fight, but its working.  Happy day!

Praise God. The God of all things, including computers and the Internet.


The water project

Paul McMillen & I had a very productive meeting with Luis Sena from Esperanza and Ramon Laureano today.  We agreed on many details of the water project and seems that we are very nearly ready to begin implementation.

On the way home we stopped to get four jugs of water.  Paul has the luxury of having a vehicle so he can buy water other than from the truck vendors.  Here’s my new amigo Joel loading the water (again the cell phone camera is not up to the task).

Buying water in Villa Mella

More wiring and some computer networking work

I worked on some wiring today – well really finishing up the same wiring I started yesterday.  This was just to add a switch to an existing light circuit.  Things move pretty slow here – looking for tools, scrounging for materials… it all takes time.

I also worked with Joel on some of the networking issues.  The Internet access is very slow here which is a real shame because there is so much that can be done educationally with the Internet.  Everyone agrees we need to do something.  Its just a matter of figuring out the best and most cost effective way to go about it.

I am struck with the impact of the Internet.  Here I am in a third world village and we have wireless Internet access (albeit very slow access).  If these children grow up and haven’t used the Internet, and prospective employer will ask them what rock they crawled out from under.

Here’s another photo of some of the wiring.  This is fairly recent work done by professionals I think.

Another example of local wiring


The Barn

The ol’ barn is still standing

This is the barn I worked on when I was here in 1999.  We did all of the structural steel cutting and welding.

Tito and the ol' barn

Tito and the ol' barn

The barn steel

The barn steel we welded.

Inside the barn

A view inside the barn

Getting some things done

This morning Paul wanted me to work on the “apartment” that the Clays will be staying in when they arrive tomorrow.  He had me install a window into an opening that had been a door and was recently blocked up to the size of the window.. at least the height was close.  The width was too wide to I had to cut some wood to make the window fit.  Then I had to reinstall the glass louvers.

After lunch I started working on some wiring.  The wiring around here is scary.  I was very careful not to work anything hot.  But I did have to check things out with the volt-ohm meter because the wire coloring means nothing here. You can’t trust the colors to have any significance. And you’ll see in the photos, there are lots of blue wires. It turns out in my case that the phase and neutral were both blue so the only way to check things is to test them while hot.

But I got through this mess and figured out what we needed to do to add a switch to the light circuit.







The photos were taken with my new cell phone.  Still trying to figure out how to get decent pics with it.  These aren’t very good.


I’ve been doing some investigation on the computer network here.  That was the primary reason for me coming (along with being moral support for Connie).   I’m getting a little bit documented.  Found that the wireless access point that isn’t working is missing entirely (that will cause a problem for sure).

I neglected to get a tetanus shot before I came.  Pray that I won’t get cut and get an infection please.