Derrick and Katie Allen
I grew up in Knoxville, IA. I was very blessed to grow up in a Christian Family. I accepted Christ at a young age. While growing up in the Church I had the opportunity to listen to several missionaries who came and spoke at our church. I noticed that almost every missionary shared a similar story when it came to how they ended up on the mission field. They would say that while they were a child in church they heard several missionaries and they all said “That’s not for me!” I found myself saying the same thing. I respected the missionaries and thought they were doing amazing things but I didn’t want that for “my” life. I felt I had other plans for “my” life; NBA star, veterinarian, policeman, doctor, social worker, etc.. anything but a missionary!
While I was in college I had several opportunities to travel. One year my cousin asked me if I would like to visit a friend of his in the Dominican Republic. I admired what my cousin’s friend was doing and thought it took a very special person to do what she was doing. I also thought this wasn’t for me. I had “my” own plans. We returned for another trip the following winter. This time the trip was a bit different. This time something told me that this was for me! The whole trip I felt a burden on my heart to come back and next time not as a vacation. This was going to interfere with “my” plans back home. We returned to the States, but I couldn’t leave the Dominican behind. I began to struggle with enjoying my job. I knew in my heart that this wasn’t where I belonged. I began to pray about the Dominican. During this time I was presented with the opportunity to be the fifth grade teacher in the DR. During my time at Jarabacoa Christian School I was blessed to see two of my students give their hearts over to Jesus and several others show interest! Over the course of that year, my walk with Jesus grew closer and closer! I felt I gained just as much if not more than those whom I was sharing God’s love with.
When I was deciding to go to the Dominican Republic I wanted to make sure I was doing it for the right reasons! I wasn’t going down to the DR for a vacation, I wasn’t going down to make my resume look better, and I definitely wasn’t going down to meet women! I hung out with a friend that we first came down to visit. Katie felt the same way I did when it came to dating and wanting to be there for God. God had other plans and Katie and I started dating and soon I married the one girl on the island that didn’t want to get married! Katie grew up 45 minutes away from me in Iowa and the first time I ever met her was in the Dominican Republic. I am always amazed by how God works!
I had the opportunity to grow up in a home where Christ was talked about openly and church was a very important part of our lives. I grew up knowing lots of Bible facts, memorizing lots of verses, and being able to defend what I believed. One day after getting in trouble I remember feeling bad about my sin instead of the usual sorry I had gotten in trouble. I prayed and asked God’s forgiveness and began my relationship with Christ. Many years later I was working as a camp counselor at a Christian camp and the missionary speaker asked us if we had ever prayed and asked Jesus if He wanted to send us. I realized I had never asked Him if he wanted to send me. After some thought I decided to pray and immediately felt the answer was yes. I went to university and majored in international business with the intention of living overseas serving Christ in whatever way he called. My senior year of college He opened the door to serve as a Christian school teacher in the Dominican Republic. I went initially for one year, but strongly felt like God was calling me there longer term. I was teaching there for the 4th consecutive year when God brought Derrick into my life. Together we decided that we wanted to return to the DR, but with a different ministry. We began looking at the ministries in our area and both felt called to work for the same organization and were assigned to work at the Fountain of Living Water in Palo Blanco, DR. While at the Fountain of Living Water I was able to invest in the lives of many adolescent girls as well as some staff. In our area the vast majority of girls are pregnant by 15 almost always by much older men who are gone before the baby is ever born. I work very hard to intentionally talk to the girls about the biblical example of marriage and how much they are worth to God. One of my most humbling moments came when a young girl stood in front of the whole school as well as the parents and community members and said that what she had learned in my baking class was that she was worth waiting for. That her identity was not found in what men thought of her, but in what God thought of her! That was 2.5 years ago and that girl is still in school and still working hard. We taught trades to the kids at Palo, but if every kid leaves saying they learned their identity is found in Christ and learns nothing to do with baking, woodworking, sewing, baseball, etc I consider myself successful.
The Mission Continues...
Katie and I had the opportunity for seven and half years to teach at a school in Palo Blanco, Dominican Republic. Over the course of those years we shared the love of Christ through teaching computers, sponsorship, baseball, aquaponics, woodshop and sewing. We also were able to be involved in our local church as youth leaders and children church leaders. We have seen God work in all these areas and were excited to be a part of it. Katie and I were often asked the question, “how long do you plan to be in Palo Blanco?” The answer was always, “until God leads us away.” The end of January 2018 God did just that. He presented an opportunity to start a new ministry in a little town called Corocito. It is an opportunity that both Katie and I couldn’t ignore. It is hard to leave our relationships and jobs in Palo Blanco behind, but we are very excited about what God is calling us to do in Corocito. In Corocito we will be continuing our work in sharing Christ through trades programs, a baseball program and most importantly a church. We feel that the trades programs are a great way to meet people in the community and share with them one on one. We are also excited to have a place where they can meet with other believers to worship our Lord and King Jesus Christ.
Over the last 6+ years our roles at our school have changed many times, however our mission has not. Our school provides us with a daily opportunity to disciple kids into a deeper relationship with Christ. We work teaching trades to orphans and at risk kids 6th grade and above. Most of these kids have attended a Bible memory program in our school and know the gospel. Many have even made professions of faith. Hardly any of them, however, have ever been discipled. Our sewing lab, computer lab, wood shop, and agricultural program provide ample opportunities for us to teach more about Christ and his character and encouraged kids to grow in their relationship with Christ. In computer class, all the typing materials are verses. When the kids learn art programs, they look up a Bible story, read it, and draw a picture of the Bible story they have read. Wood shop provides an opportunity for deeper relationships because the class size is small, usually 4-6 kids. In the summer program we even had two girls, two of the feistiest and rebellious girls, in the class. During the first few days they would barely listen to the devotionals. Throughout the weeks, they began to pay attention and even answer questions. On the second to the last day, one of the two girls, who wouldn’t even listen to the word of God at the beginning, raised her hand and volunteered to open the class in prayer. It was a huge encouragement. Katie works with many girls on a semi consistent basis, and works with 2 girls from the school multiple times a week. Derrick usually ends up working with the boys who have trouble staying out of trouble in class. Some of his best students in woodshop are those boys who are sent to him as a last resort because they are about to be kicked out of school. These classes give them a chance to excel, learn hands on, but most importantly be shown love and guidance one on one. Outside of our jobs at school, our house is constantly full of people. There is hardly a time when we are home that we don’t have neighborhood kids running around our house, eating meals with us, and going to church with us. We also work with adults in our community that are struggling in their marriages or through parenting. We believe that a solid relationship with Christ is the only true way marriage and parents can effectually show love and we try to model this to our community around as well as actively teach it to the many couples who come to us for help and encouragement. We also teach Jr. Church at our local church every Sunday. We have between 25-40 kids each week. We are currently going through the books of the Bible and the main message of each book and try each week to link what the book says to Christ’s coming and His finished work on the cross. We have been doing Jr. Church for 3 years now. There was no children’s program before so we have kids 4-12 years old which is a huge span. We feel, however, that it is important to keep those older kids in the class because they never had Jr. Church so they don’t have any Bible knowledge to build upon in the main service. Many of the kids come without parents because we serve a big snack each week and this is the only exposure to Christ they get. Although much of our time is spent doing things that appear humanitarian, teaching, feeding, providing, we do these things because we know that when people know we care, they will listen. Our prayer is that in all these efforts God will continue to give spiritual fruit in abundance to our ministry.
Derrick and Katie Allen
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