Broadly put, the purpose of Devxchange has always been about helping people help people and, this past winter, Elvera and Bill Reimer (Project Leaders of Devxchange) got the opportunity to once again witness firsthand the difference that this purpose makes!
From November 28 to December 4, 2018, Elvera and Bill were reunited with Pastor Jose of the Centro de Transformación Jesús Tiene Compasión de Ellos (JTCE) – a drug rehabilitation center in the Dominican Republic just north of Santiago de los Caballeros.
In 2017, Pastor Jose shared with them the idea of establishing a bakery. The hope was to help support his ministry and find a way for the men from the center to meaningfully interact with each other and with the world around them. From this simple idea, big changes happened in the center. They now have a large oven and six apprentice bakers who, on average, produce roughly 1200 empanadas each day, six days a week!
Pastor Jose has a heart of gold and tries to help as many men as possible. As such, even though only set-up for roughly 24 men, the center currently houses more than 30 men. Despite running slightly over capacity, Elvera says that one thing is noticeably different: the environment. Instead of sleeping or quietly watching TV as they did in 2017, now the men are reading, playing games, baking, doing work around the center, and much more!
Besides this positive change in the environment, one of the greatest parts of the visit was seeing the impact that their efforts were having in the lives of those men. During their time there, they were able to aid in the purchasing of:
- four large batteries, so that the men can have ample light at night;
- eight new bunk-beds;
- three collapsible tables with a seating capacity of ten each.
In her visit, Elvera also had the opportunity to interview a few of them regarding their experiences – something which she found both heartbreaking and encouraging. The following statement is a brief from Elvera’s interview with Christian, Pastor Jose’s right-hand man and member of the 18-month rehab program. Christian offers first-hand insight into why these programs are so critical, and why helping people help people is just so important.
“I interviewed a few of the men. Christian was miraculously healed of his drug addiction after being at the center for one month. Christian shared from his heart one of the most powerful statements that I have heard. He said: ‘This center is worth fighting for. It saves people’s lives.’”
If you wish to learn more about the Centro de Transformación Jesús Tiene Compasión de Ellos, and the ways that you can become involved, please visit the project’s website.
Author: J. Pierce Calluori.