Growth in the Chinese Field
In 2005, the branch appointed a Chinese-speaking Bethelite, Tin Wa Ng, as a special pioneer to preach to the large Chinese population in the country. He was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. His parents had immigrated to Santo Domingo from China.
On January 1, 2008, a Mandarin Chinese congregation was established in Santo Domingo, and in 2011 a group was formed in Santiago. The 70 publishers, including 36 regular pioneers and several auxiliary pioneers, conduct an average of 76 Bible studies each month.
Searching Out English-Speaking Disciples
By 2007, there were 27,466 publishers participating in the ministry in 376 congregations, and 49,795 Bible studies were being conducted. However, there was no congregation for the sizable English-speaking population. So, in April 2008, the branch assigned missionaries Donald and Jayne Elwell to Santo Domingo in order to form an English-speaking group. A small but enthusiastic group of publishers first took a census to establish where English-speaking individuals lived. Then they organized the territory so that they could give a thorough witness.
As a result of those efforts, the English group in Santo Domingo continued to grow, and a congregation of 39 publishers was formed in July 2009. Similar steps were taken in other areas of the country. By November 2011, there were seven English congregations and one group in the country.
A Deaf and Blind Woman Takes a Stand for Jehovah
Lorys, who has Usher Syndrome, grew up as an orphan. She was born deaf and began to lose her vision when she was 16. She can see to some extent in daylight but is completely blind at night. The only way she can communicate after sundown is by means of tactile signing.
A special pioneer couple met Lorys when she was 23 years old. At the time, she was living with a deaf man and their one-year-old hearing daughter. Lorys accepted an invitation to attend a congregation meeting and was moved by what she learned.
Lorys quickly made changes in her life. For example, when she learned that it was improper to be living with her partner without being married to him, she discussed with him the importance of legalizing their relationship and explained that she would not compromise the Bible’s moral standards. Surprised by her outspokenness, he agreed to marry her.
After they were married, Lorys became a publisher and in a short time was baptized. In the meantime, as a result of her study with the Witnesses, she learned American Sign Language (ASL). Since then, she has been helping her daughter learn ASL and is teaching her the truth.
A Devastating Earthquake Strikes Haiti
Tuesday, January 12, 2010, will long be imprinted on the minds of Dominicans and Haitians. That was the day a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti. The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses immediately authorized the Dominican Republic branch to send money to the Haiti branch to provide relief aid. Since the sum of money to be delivered was considerable, the six-foot-three-inch (1.90 m), 280-pound (127 kg) Bethel doctor, Evan Batista, was assigned to be the courier.
The decision to send Brother Batista proved to be providential because when he got to the border, he was informed that there was a desperate need for qualified medical help. Many critically injured earthquake victims were being brought to the Assembly Hall adjacent to the Haiti branch for medical treatment. When the Haitian brothers realized that the courier was the branch doctor, they telephoned the branch in the Dominican Republic and asked if Brother Batista could remain in Haiti. Of course, permission was granted, and thus began a massive relief effort to help our spiritual brothers in Haiti—mere hours after the earthquake had struck.
The Purchasing Department at the Dominican Republic branch immediately got in touch with their regular food suppliers. As a result, over 15,000 pounds (6,800 kg) of rice and beans and other basic food items were obtained and sent to Haiti at 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 14—apparently the first relief shipment from outside of the country to reach the border. Later that same day, three additional medical doctors from the Dominican Republic made the seven-hour-long road trip to the Haiti branch. It was well into the evening when they arrived, but instead of going to their accommodations, they went directly to the injured and toiled until midnight. By the next day, another four doctors and four nurses had arrived from the Dominican Republic. Surgical procedures were performed under very difficult conditions, using a make-shift operating room set up at the Assembly Hall. For the next week, these 12 treated over 300 injured people.
Every day the most serious cases were sent to the Dominican Republic to be treated. At times, the very vehicles that had taken relief supplies to Haiti rushed the injured to various medical centers throughout the Dominican Republic. The branch organized Patient Visitation Groups to encourage the injured and to make sure that they had the necessary medicine and supplies. Local congregations provided food and accommodations for family members who had accompanied their injured loved ones.
Jehovah’s Witnesses distributed more than a million pounds of donated goods, which included 400,000 meals
The tireless and selfless efforts of Jehovah’s people in the aftermath of this disaster epitomize the reassuring words found at Proverbs 17:17, which says: “A true friend shows love at all times, and is a brother who is born for times of distress.” Experience after experience shows how by means of his spirit and the Christian brotherhood, Jehovah has sustained his loyal ones even in the face of death. Intense relief activity continued for months. Jehovah’s Witnesses distributed more than a million pounds of donated goods, which included 400,000 meals. Some 78 brothers and sisters who are medical professionals from different parts of the world came and gave freely of their time and skills along with countless other volunteers.*
For a more comprehensive report, see pages 14-19 of the December 2010 issue of Awake!