Adrian and Sharon were first invited to a fact-finding trip in the Dominican Republic (DR) in July 2000, along with missionaries in Haiti with whom they were partnered at the time. The trip changed their lives, and God has been multiplying His vision for its people since that time through their influence there.
Q: Tell us about your first trip to the DR.
On the Monday night debrief during that first trip, the host mentioned that an opportunity to speak to pastors was available that week. I raised my hand as I thought it would be an amazing opportunity. I had no idea how that simple decision would radically change my life. I shared God’s Word, encouraged them, and prayed for them. At the end, one of the senior pastors got up and addressed me. With tears in his eyes, he asked me if I would come and help. God spoke directly to my spirit. It was a clear and specific call from God to come alongside these men and women and help them fulfil the calling and vision He had for them.
Q: When did you return?
Four years later, we arrived in the DR with five hockey bags, three small children, and a clear vision of what God had called us to do. We quit our jobs, sold our house and our cars, and packed up or gave away all our things. The first few years were not easy as we adjusted to life in the DR. We soon discovered we had to relearn everything from how to shop and cook, do laundry, learn a new language, immerse ourselves in a new culture, and understand how to be a healthy family through it all. We struggled with the language. Our children were young (one, six and nine years old), and we had little support. We moved 10 times in eight years. We lived without hot water and survived without the Internet, a phone or TV in our home for years. In the midst of all that, God was faithful. Even though we were stretched, we saw God provide for our daily needs and open up doors of ministry we never even imagined possible.
Q: What is your focus in the DR? Has your ministry evolved with time?
Our mission is “to equip, empower and encourage” the men and women God had raised up, enabling them to fulfil their call. We were not called to start up something new that was “ours,” but to come alongside and help others. Each pastor/leader has a vision, and we work together to see that happen. Some pastors need church buildings; we have worked on 70 church construction projects. Some need theological training; we now have a Bible seminary (SETCAR) that attracts students from numerous denominations. Some desire to see the possibilities for the children in their community improve; we now run ChildCARE Plus in two communities. Children now have the materials they need to attend school. Others want to help the women reach and empower women and girls; we now have a girls empowerment program and ministry to women that are transforming lives.
Q: What were some highlights and some of the toughest things you had to overcome?
We have built a unified network of pastors and churches from over 19 different denominations and independent churches. We expanded to Northern Haiti to work with the pastors/leaders in Cap-Haïtien. We were able to purchase 26 acres of property debt-free in the name of the PAOC. One highlight is to hear the pastors talk about how, through us, God has impacted their lives, ministries, churches, communities, and nation. Seeing them doing life and ministry abundantly well excites us. We see the mandate from God in Acts 16:5 being fulfilled—“So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.” We praise God for the privilege, joy, and blessing of being a part of what God is doing.
Q: What difference have you seen in the lives of the people God has called you to serve? Can you share a few testimonies?
One of the pastors we helped build a church for, Pastor Jaime, told us it was like they were playing the game of baseball, but without equipment, a coach, or good knowledge and understanding of the game. But now they are equipped, trained, coached, and have a strong, unified team of pastors across denominational lines, with a confidence and boldness they never had before. We thank God for the many incredible people He has brought into our lives, the many miracles we have seen, the hundreds we have witnessed come to know Christ, the communities transformed by the power of God, and the hundreds of pastors equipped and empowered.
Q: What is your ministry vision for the future in the Dominican Republic? How can we, as Canadian individuals and churches, partner with you in God’s work?
Our ministry vision for the DR and Haiti is to continue to equip, empower and enable leaders. Within the next five years we want to see 50 students graduate from the seminary, plant 15 churches in partnership with multiple denominations, and send out five missionaries to other countries in partnership with local denominations. Please pray for the pastors and leaders of the nations of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. These are wonderful men and women of God filled with passion, a resiliency of spirit, and a strong, unshakable faith in God. Please pray for the work of God here as we enter this building phase and continue to expand across this nation and the nation of Haiti.
Q: How can we pray for your family, ministry, and the Dominican Republic?
- Pray for healing for Adrian, who has had health issues for the last six years that have taken their toll and impacted our whole family.
- Pray for the success of our capital project. We need to raise $500,000 this year to start Phase 1, a Ministry Development Centre where we’ll teach and train pastors whose churches can use the facilities. There will also eventually be facilities for conferences, retreats and seminars.
- We need ChildCARE Plus sponsors.
- We need construction teams to come and help us build Phase 1. (Contact us at Adrian.Thomas@paoc.org if interested in bringing a team.)
Adrian and Sharon Thomas have served in the Dominican Republic as PAOC global workers for the past 15 years. They have three children: Kent, Luke and Courtney. This article appeared in the July/August/September 2019 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photos courtesy Adrian and Sharon Thomas.