By Emily Drayne
I’ve seen it happen time and again in my ministry with the International Conference on Missions. Whether committing to go on a short-term trip or enter full-time service, when people simply open themselves up to God’s plan, he guides them every step of the way.
Brian and Nebraska’s Story
After his first short-term mission trip to the Dominican Republic in 2007, Brian Berman felt an urge to get involved. He fell in love with the culture and people, but he also saw a physical and spiritual need there.
After leaving corporate America, he and his wife, Nebraska, moved to the Dominican Republic and started creating relationships with local people. They spent time working with an established mission organization there and expanded their knowledge and understanding of cross-cultural missions. As his faith and passion grew for the unreached Dominicans, an idea for a new venture sparked: Project Mañana.
The couple founded Project Mañana International in 2010. They believe working together is the key to success; the mission’s slogan is “Working Together Today for an Eternal Tomorrow.” Project Mañana is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by providing clean water to communities and families, nutritious meals to impoverished children, education for the whole family, and by providing discipling projects.
The couple initially spent time in the San Pablo area, where they determined the main issues were hunger and education. Meeting the physical needs of people is often a way to get your foot in the door of a foreign community. The mission’s first project was to develop a nutrition center that could provide meals to more than 200 children daily. Project Mañana saw that providing healthy food made a visible change in the community and the children who lived there.
But the children wanted more . . . they wanted to learn. The closest public school was a 30-minute walk along a dangerous route, so Project Mañana opened a school in San Pablo in 2014. The school started out with 64 children in preschool through third grade. Now the school has 116 children enrolled and is able to offer a complete elementary education of preschool through sixth grade.
The Bermans are passionate about sharing Christ with the Dominicans. While they are able to help meet the physical needs of the people, their main focus and outreach energies are on establishing strategic partnerships and discipling national leaders for a sustainable evangelism process.
The Great Commission places upon us the responsibility of reaching the lost for Christ (Matthew 28:16). “And the Bible further tell us, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few,’” Brian said. “So, for us, it was clear we needed to be part of the workers. While ministry, and especially international missions, are not for everyone, I would encourage anyone who is feeling the tug on their heart to make contact with the ICOM or a mission agency they might know. We need more ‘goers,’ and there’s no time to waste.”
Ministry in a cross-cultural setting is not for everyone, of course. A short-term mission trip can help a person decide what is best for them. There are many ways to be part of an international mission without actually living on foreign soil. It’s amazing how God can work through a small tug on your heart and direct you to a perfect opportunity.
Kelsey Cooper had a “God moment” like this happen at the 2017 ICOM in Peoria, Illinois. God took this 24-year-old’s open heart and her skill set and matched her with the perfect mission trip.
Kelsey was walking around ICOM’s exhibit hall with her parents when her dad stopped at a booth and began talking to an attendant. Out of the blue, someone at the Project Mañana booth—which was right next door—asked Kelsey if she danced.
“What he didn’t know was that I’ve been dancing since I was 3 years old and had been searching for where God was calling me to go and serve him,” Kelsey said. “He told me all about this dance camp mission trip they only have once a year, showed me pictures and videos, and by the end of the conversation I was in! From that day, God has just cleared the way to make everything work out—from finances, work schedules, my own fears, and on and on.” How amazing is our God?
This spring, Kelsey was preparing for her first overseas mission trip. “I’m excited for God to grow and stretch me beyond my wildest imagination” she said, “and to be able to share the overwhelming, unconditional love he has taught me so much about with everyone there.”
I hope these stories inspire you to listen for God’s calling and to go in whatever capacity that means in your life.
“As a collective body of believers,” Brian said, “we truly believe that if we all work together (each using their God-given gifts and talents), we can truly make someone’s ‘tomorrow’ eternal through their relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Emily Drayne lives in North Carolina and has served with the International Conference on Missions since 2011.