Here in the Dominican Republic, as in most Spanish countries, they have a deep rooted Catholic background. Along with that comes all the superstitious beliefs, and unbiblical practices and stories handed down from generation to generation. Even within the Catholic church, the idols they pray to and make many frames and statues of, vary from country to country. In Cuba for instance they tend to focus more on San Lazaro, in my father’s home country of Mexico it’s la virgen de Guadalupe, there’s la virgin de Candelaria, and the list goes on. Here it’s la virgin de la Altagracia and of course one of their favorites, the divino niño (the divine child). All the different versions of the virgin Mary in each country come with the stories ( none of which are found in Scripture), of alleged appearances of her in different parts of the world and even in different colors. Sometimes she is black, white, or spanish.
Here, you can many times hear the Catholics praying to her and asking her to intercede for them although the Bible is clear when it says …
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, – 1Timothy 2:5
The other one is divino niño which supposed to be Jesus as a child which probably comes from the many extrabiblical stories of Jesus as a child working miracles and wonders (which are not in Scripture either). The problem is that the Bible talks the least about Jesus’ childhood. Except for the instance of him staying behind and talking to the teachers in the synagogue (Luke 2:49), the Bible seems to be almost silent on the matter. It fast forwards into His adulthood, so it seems backwards to make such an emphasis on something the Bible says so little about. They have this eight year old looking Jesus with a halo above his head EVERYWHERE here. The Bible says that Christ grew into adulthood, living a perfect, sinless life, went to the cross as a grown man, died and was raised again on the third day and seen by many witnesses (again, as a grown man), and ascended to the right hand of the Father. It doesn’t make sense to pray to and worship an unbiblical version of Jesus, when we have the actual biblical accounts in the gospels. Unfortunately, some Catholics will have it no other way. They insist on having their rosaries and their large paintings of their virgin or divine child displayed proudly in their living rooms.
You may have heard or read about a place we minister to called Piedra Gorda, such has been the case there. It would sadden and baffle us to see such things in the homes of even professing believers Many here, even with the many sermons preached there, and the gathering of believers there for some time now, just couldn’t seem to part ways with their idols…..until recently. We have been spending more time in Piedra Gorda lately and will continue to do so. But today we saw what seemed to be a light of hope in what has for the most part, seemed like a spiritually dark place, where sin and satan has had a strong grip on people.
We were given money by our friends from New Hope in North Carolina to help fix the tin roof of a woman who visits the church regularly and even lets us use her small property for church functions (the church there meets outside, there is no building). As Jared and I went through her house and were examining the damaged sections of her roof, we noticed one of these paintings in her living room and asked her about it. She asked if she should take it down. I told her it I believed it was wrong for a professing believer to have this in their home, but did not tell her to take it down. I said, “if you believe it is wrong because the Holy Spirit convicts you that this is sin, then take it down.” Today when we were in her home to make sure some had materials arrived, and to talk and pray with the family, Jared noticed the painting was gone. We didn’t say anything to her but were happy to see it had been taken down. Then, a little while later, we were at her sisters home who also attends service regularly, and the family invited us in. We have noticed the same kind of painting in their home as well, and in the past she just would say “it’s just a painting like any other.” But today when we noticed it was gone, Jared decided to ask her about it. She told us she still had it in her possession but felt like she should take it down. She went on to tell us that they have grown up with these beliefs but didn’t have knowledge of what the Bible really said, (sadly, most cannot read in Piedra Gorda). She said she heard it was wrong, and for some reason finally decided it should come down. We have been plowing and preparing these fields by the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. And we have been praying and waiting.
The Bible says in Isaiah 55:11- so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Also in John 16:8, Jesus speaking of the Holy Spirit says- And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
One thing the Holy Spirit definitely does is convict people of their sin. Pray for the people of Piedra Gorda. It seems God may be awakening some and making them aware and more sensitive to their sin. There is a long way to go. The families are a mess and need strengthening, leaders are lacking, and many other challenges, but this is a start and a very good sign. There is even a whole other side of the community that has not been reached yet, and so there is much work to be done. But first we ask you to help by joining us in praying for this community. We will continue to preach and teach God’s Word faithfully, but we are fully depending upon the Spirit of God to move here. Pray.
Pray for the people of Piedra Gorda
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”- Matthew 4:19