Discipleship Program Transforms Lives After Hurricane Maria

May 1, 2019 • Dominica
Jose exudes his love for the Lord while he works on a set of storm shutters through the Samaritan’s Purse men’s discipleship program on Dominica.
Jose exudes his love for the Lord while he works on a set of storm shutters through the Samaritan’s Purse men’s discipleship program on Dominica.

On the Caribbean island of Dominica, Samaritan’s Purse is serving families still recovering from the September 2017 hurricane while providing vocational and spiritual training to young men.

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More than 18 months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Dominica, Samaritan’s Purse continues to help people rebuild both physically and spiritually. As young Dominican men construct storm shutters for vulnerable families through one of our latest initiatives, they are not only being trained in carpentry, but also mentored in their personal and spiritual lives.

Apprentices who participated in the men’s discipleship program receive certificates upon completion of the course.

Apprentices who participated in the men’s discipleship program receive certificates upon completion of the course.

Take Jose, for one. During the weeks Jose served as an apprentice in the Samaritan’s Purse program, he began dreaming about a new life. While he measured, hammered, and sawed to piece together storm shutters, slowly the fragments of his life began making more sense.

“Maybe I’ll try to start my own business,” he said. “I want to try to help the young ones that want to learn a skill. I want to help my community. If I can get some tools, I can teach [them].”

Now, Jose has purpose and direction. He also has a growing relationship with Jesus Christ that was fanned into flames through the spiritual focus of the program.

Lives Changed

Today, Jose is a quiet, kind, skilled young man. He is quick to flash his big smile, tell about the different types of storm shutters he’s recently learned to build, and is eager to share his new dreams.

“I heard about the storm shutter program from a friend,” Jose said. “I was doing nothing at the time. I found I liked the program, so I kept on doing it.”

Sawdust flies as men with the apprenticeship program work to construct storm shutters.

Sawdust flies as men with the apprenticeship program work to construct storm shutters.

Before starting the program, Jose rarely left his house. He had no work and at times dabbled in drugs.

“Most of the guys in our mentorship program have been involved in illegal drugs of some kind,” said Suprian George, the Samaritan’s Purse Dominica church engagement officer. “It’s common. But they have changed.”

Early on, Suprian went to Jose’s house to remind him to come to work. As time went by, Jose began to leave his home on his own initiative to meet Suprian. But by the end of the program, Jose was one of the most dedicated participants, even biking the more than 20 miles from the workshop to his home when Suprian was unable to give him a ride.

These behavioral changes are signs of much deeper heart change. Every Monday, guest speakers, a local pastor, and Samaritan’s Purse staff mentor the men on personal development, motivation, health, family life, manhood, employment, entrepreneurship, and spiritual development.

It was on one of these Mondays, Jose and two of the other young men in the program made the decision to start living for Christ. We praise God that Jose has peace in Christ now and for eternity.

Reaching Out to Those in Need

Gertrude, a 77-year-old woman who struggles with health issues, was one recipient of storm shutters. “The young men did a very good job,” she said. “They worked hard and never complained.”

Jose and another of the apprentices still visit Gertrude from time to time. No longer consumed in their own lives, the young men truly are learning what it looks like to love and serve people as Christ has done for them.

“Samaritan’s Purse brings everything together,” said Leninn Joseph, our storm shutter carpentry assistant. “Young men are brought in to make something of themselves. They’re given a connection with God and each other.”

“They’re given a connection with God and each other.”

As the men begin looking at things with an eternal perspective and their hearts and minds are shaped through a community of godly men, the pieces of their lives start coming together. The young men are now considering new endeavors and living with fresh vision.

Please pray that the young men in this discipleship program will continue to seek out godly role models and use their lives to serve the people around them. Pray especially for Jose and the other young men who made commitments to Christ. Ask that they will continue to grow in their knowledge and love for God.

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Vocational Training Jesus told a parable about jobless people getting a day’s work in a vineyard. No matter what time they were hired, the landowner promised everyone would receive “whatever is right” as payment (Matthew 20:4). At the end of the day, he rewarded them all equally. In our vocational training programs around the world, Samaritan’s Purse works with people who might not be the first to be hired, but once we give them training and an opportunity, they can become productive, respected, and self-sufficient. We provide widows, single parents, and others the skills they need to do a job or open a small shop. Participants learn how to develop their trade while working for the glory of God. For $120 we can train and equip a person for sewing, carpentry, food service, or another productive livelihood.

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