Pat Artus’ Missions Report: Prison Ministry in the Dominican Republic
Pat Artus joined up with Christian Medical Dental Association out of Bristol, TN and she traveled with their Global Health Outreach to the Dominican Republic October 1-9 to do prison ministry.
It’s been a little over a month since my return from the DR. There have been so many different emotions to process, putting pen to paper has not been easy. Not only is there a new person the Lord is revealing in me but also new eyes to see His message. It’s impossible to go on a mission trip, any mission trip, and not come back changed.
So many visions to absorb; the abject poverty, the amazing spirituality of the people, the smells, the food, and most of all the heat. OH THE HEAT. Hurricane Matthew came across the western coast of Haiti, but the storm bands hit our area of the Dominican Republic. Our area did have flooding that occurred multiple times per day in areas as the bands came through, but we were always inside, such that, when it was time to leave for home, the skies were clear and waters off the roads. Definitely a “hedge of protection” surrounded us.
We set up clinics at 4 different prisons and attended to the medical and dental needs of both men and women. We pulled about 50 teeth a day and gave out thousands of Tylenol. In all, our team was able to minister to 1,340 prisoners-patients and 240 turned their lives over to Christ.
On our last day, we pulled up to our fourth prison for the week. It was a maximum security male center with massive metal gates. All the other prisons we had been to previously that week waved our bus right in for inspection. This was different. I could sense a spirit coming against us even as we waited. We were finally allowed access but were delayed setting up the individual clinics. Once we were escorted to our secure area we started setting up the equipment. Typically, during the week the prisoners anticipated our arrival and were allowed to queue up for services. Not so here. I felt a strong sense of resistance and asked one of the dentists to pray for the Lord to break the hold over this place. Shortly after, the prisoners did arrive and we were able to treat all who came.
At the end of the day the warden herself came up to the team and thanked us for our services and PRAYERS. The Lord wanted to do His work in that place, that day and we were just His willing instruments.
What I realized from this trip is that our freedom to have faith in God does not rely on our physical surroundings but on our deeper ability to join with the mind and heart of God through our spirit. I have so much more physical freedom than these prisoners, yet if I lock myself up with concerns over money, politics or all the other “things” in our daily lives, I am a prisoner. Hope in the Lord and faith that He has a better plan for my life is what I now try to hold onto each day. I try to see with new eyes the opportunities He gives me each day to serve Him. I don’t have to go to the Dominican Republic to bring His word to His people…they’re right next door.