Zac and Julie Stutler
Prayer Letter/Ministry Update
“¡El ha resucitado!” (He is risen) was the greeting heard over and over in Alianza this past Sunday. Various church members dressed in Bible costumes joyously welcomed people in loving warm Caribbean style to our special Easter Service called “Celebrating the Resurrection of Christ in Family.” The atmosphere was one of celebration. Palm branches adorned the walls. A large cross and empty tomb (both made out of cardboard by Zac and young people from Alianza) were the central focus of the room. Round tables decorated with “empty tomb” and “donkey” center pieces along with Easter coloring pictures and worksheets were ready inviting families to come together to celebrate the greatest event of human history.
The “Super Afternoon of Bible Adventures” on Tuesday was a precursor to this event as over 50 children experienced some of the stories of the first “Holy Week” in a variety of creative ways. We encouraged the new families as well as the Alianza families to return on Sunday for “the rest and best part of the story.”
As we planned these events a few weeks ago, we really didn’t know what to expect. Holy Week in the Dominican Republic is a national “spring break.” Church attendance tends to be low since it is a vacation time. Combined with the fact that we live in a tourist destination where many families are actually busier during this time due to their work and others visit their extended family in other parts of the country, we did know if this idea would work or not. As we prayed about it and consulted with some members of the church, we really believed that God had a plan and wanted Alianza to celebrate and proclaim HIS resurrection in a special way.
God worked in wonderful ways! It was a tremendous celebration! Some of the first people who arrived were a dear friend and her two daughters who have attended every one of our children’s outreaches. It was the mom’s first time at a service. She greeted me with a huge hug as her girls with big smiles shouted “Tia Julia Tia Julia” (Auntie Julie Auntie Julie). She told me how much her girls loved the “Super Afternoon of Bible Adventures” and wanted to come back as a family.
Another family who had attended the children’s outreach also came for the first time. The mother told me that when she asked her son that morning if he wanted to go to Alianza, he literally jumped out of bed and said “Let’s go!!!!” She said she had never seen anything like it. It was amazing how fast he got ready.
People just kept coming and coming. We had to get out more chairs. It literally became standing room only. But no one seemed to mind. Though the service was all in Spanish, it was also a very international celebration with people of nine different nationalities (residents of Punta Cana) representing four different language groups participating. Ninety-two people in all celebrated the Resurrection together as families in Alianza. God is at work!
In addition to singing praises together as a congregation, we were transported to Jerusalem in the time of Christ through a beautiful rendition of “La Via Dolorosa” by a very gifted member of Alianza. Various Bible characters including the donkey who carried Jesus on Palm Sunday and Mary Magdalene shared their stories about the first Easter through puppets and drama. Even the littlest ones were involved as the gathered around the “Empty Tomb” to listen to one of the young mothers of Alianza read a children’s book about the first Easter.
Zac shared an impacting meditation on the power of the cross and the Resurrection. He challenged those present to come forward and “nail” (using push pins) a paper heart with their name on it on the cross as a reminder that the risen Christ loves each one of us and died for our sins. It was a truly impacting moment.
The service concluded with people gathered as families making an Easter wreath – a special craft with pictures representing the significant events of that first Holy Week and enjoying “empty tomb” rolls. The craft was a big hit. It was so fun to watch parents working together with their children reviewing the events of the story. Even the adults without children really enjoyed the craft. After all, we have to be like children to enter the kingdom of God.
It was truly a special Easter Sunday. The presence of the Risen Lord was so real. There was a real sense of joy. God worked in such wonderful ways.
Only two years ago Alianza was only a dream. We officially opened on April 1, 2011. Now Easter of 2013, ninety-two people from many different cultures and backgrounds come together to hear about and celebrate the glorious story of the greatest event in all human history – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. So many families were impacted this past week as they heard and experienced the stories of Holy Week and Easter in many different forms. God is so good!!!
As we were setting things up on Sunday morning, one of our church members who has been with us since the beginning commented on the fact that Alianza is a miracle. It is a work of God in which many people in many different places are a part. This past Sunday was just another amazing example of God´s awesome power and work as many live the call together.
Alianza exists and ministers in Punta Cana because of your faithful partnership. Because you prayed and gave to the Great Commission Fund, the Punta Cana Project Approved Special and our Work Fund, this past week many different families were touched by the love of Christ in very special ways. As you lived the call together with us, the glorious news that Jesus lives and offers new life to all who put their faith in Him, was shared and celebrated in a special way this Easter. Thank you so very much for being a part of this amazing adventure of faith in Punta Cana.
Joyfully Living the Call Together
Zac and Julie Stutler
Time Sensitive Prayer Requests
Pray that God would send others to be part of the pastoral team of Alianza.
Pray that God would rise up local leaders in various areas in Alianza – such as children’s ministry, discipleship, etc.
Pray that God would lead us in terms of seeking more space for our ministry center. Pray that He will provide all we need to be able to minister to the growing congregation.
Ongoing Prayer requests
Pray for us, that we would walk closely with Jesus each and every day and that our lives would reflect HIS love to all around us. Pray that God would continue to lead us to people who are hungry to know Christ and that He would speak through us.
Pray that God would continue to open doors to be involved in the community and be a blessing to those around us. Pray that God would continue to give us creative ideas of ways to reach out and serve the community.
Pray that many people will come to know Christ and enter into discipleship through the ministry of Alianza.
Pray that those in Discipleship studies would grow into strong followers of Jesus with hearts to reach others.
Family & Personal Requests
Luke – We praise the Lord that Luke got a permanent job as a Civil Engineer in November. He is commuting to Dayton, Ohio.
Luke and Melinda are expecting their first child in May. Pray that the pregnancy will go well and for a healthy little baby. Pray that God would prepare them for the awesome adventure of being parents and prepare us for the amazing adventure of being grandparents.
Melinda, Luke’s wife, works as a Respiratory Therapist at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati. Along with working, she is working on her Bachelor’s Degree though a program at the hospital. Pray for her as she continues her studies.
Ana is now in her fourth semester at Wayne State Law School in Detroit. Pray that God continues to help and bless her as she studies law. She is on an academic scholarship and needs to maintain a high average to keep the scholarship. We praise the Lord for His help in maintaining her scholarship. Along with her studies this semester she is doing an internship at the Wayne State University Free Legal Clinic. Pray that God will use her to touch many lives around her. The desire of her heart is to be “missional” and share Christ’s love in every place He leads her. Pray also for God’s continued care and protection on her in Detroit.
Updated: April 03, 2013
- Children's Names
- Field Assignment
- Country of Service
- Dominican Republic
- Apartado 2683, Santo Domingo, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
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