Smiling faces enter the room in one of the bigger villas in Costambar, which is an oceanfront part of the city of Puerto Plata in Dominican Republic. 32 participants have found their way to the venue for the GO Equipped course. Now the course is coming to an end and it is time for prayer and response.
– I want to serve God as a psychologist, says Mirka Pena, the leader of Tent Dominicana, as she stands in front of the group. Together with others involved in Tent Dominicana´s work, she has planned that the other team members will follow and share how they will serve God through their professions. The idea is to underline how everyone can be in full-time ministry for God through their work and studies.
Then something unprecedented happens. After a short period of silence the course participants starts moving.
– I want to serve God as an accountant, says one of them as she goes forward and joins the Tent Dominicana team.
– I want to serve God as a teacher, says another and follows.
– And I want to serve him as an electrical engineer, says a man from El Salvador before he also moves up front in the room.
One by one new people follow until all chairs are empty.
– We did not know how people would respond to what we as a team had planned. What happened was overwhelming, says Mirka Pena as she reflects on the event the following day.
She is a co-founder of Tent Dominicana. The work started in 2014. Since then the group has arranged annual courses on tentmaking.
– We have a dual focus. In addition to sending tentmakers abroad, we also want to empower people to be good ambassadors for Christ in their current workplaces in the Dominican Republic, explains Mirka Pena.
She says that mission abroad has been a foreign thought for many churches in the Dominican Republic. The churches have small financial resources. Thus, sending fully church-supported missionaries has not been an option.
– Tentmaking does however open many new opportunities since those who are sent, get their income through their work, states the Tent Dominicana leader.
Three of the participants at this year´s GO Equipped course indicated that they plan to go abroad. Mirka Pena thinks others will follow in their footsteps.
– We want to collaborate with the churches in Dominican Republic to spread the vision on how we can share the gospel through our work both abroad and in our own nation. This will help many people to see how they can be ambassadors for Christ where they are, and I am sure many new churches will get engaged in international mission as well, says Mirka Pena.
Berit Helgoy Kloster, who is senior associate for tentmaking in the Lausanne Movement and a co-founder of both Tent Dominicana and Tent Norway, says the response from the participants at the course in Costambar went way beyond her expectations.
– It looks like God is creating something new. It fills me with awe to see so many people stand up and make a commitment to serve God through their work, she says.