Christian Service Brigadge

posted in: General News 3

I had a very interesting e-mail exchange with a college friend, regarding her son’sChristian Service Brigade project that I wanted to share with you;

Hello John,

I always enjoy reading new updates and seeing photos of what you guys are doing in the Dominican. I hope all is well with you and your family.

My son, Jared, is working on a badge for his Christian Service Brigade (sort of like Royal Rangers with the Baptist church here in Canada). The topic he is working on is “Using Technology for Christ.” He needs to communicate with a missionary who is using modern technology like radio, aviation, computers or medical skill in the mission field. He would like to know what opportunities there may be to assist in these areas.

If you have a moment, would you mind writing a brief note regarding what needs you have in technology and what others (mainly our church here) could do to help you serve more efficiently.

Thanks and God Bless,


Here is my rather lenghty reply to her son:



I live in the Dominican Republic, in a very small town, Jimaní (pronounced “Hem a Knee”). Jimaní is a border town. We are located on the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. As a missionary our main goal is to point people to Jesus, and we do that by doing our best to live a life that models how Christ lived on earth.

In Matthew 25, Jesus shares a story “The Sheep and the Goats.” In this story he gives us several examples of people that lived a life that followed Jesus.

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

I have the privilege of working with a group of people that want to do their best to follow this example. We met many children in Haiti and the Dominican Republic that were sick, they had problems with their heart. Many of these children died after we had met them. We were very sad because our group attended too many funerals for children. If these children lived in your town, they would have had access to doctors and hospitals, and they could have had a surgery that would have fixed their problem. My friends and I decided that we need to “look after” these sick kids so that we could show them what it meant to be a Christian, and introduce both them and their family to Jesus.

Because in Haiti and the Dominican Republic there are not doctors that can do the type of open-heart surgery that these children needed, we started to work with a group of doctor’s and nurses that travel to the Dominican Republic and do surgeries for children in hospitals in the Dominican Republic. We bring kids from Haiti to the Dominican Republic for surgery and kids come from all over the Dominican Republic to the hospital for surgery as well.

Once we started doing surgeries for kids in Haiti, we started getting tons of phone calls from hospitals and clinics all across Haiti to tell us about kids they know that need surgery. We have been overwhelmed with calls and information, and keeping track of all of these kids and their medical history became very difficult.

We are working on an electronic medical record system, a database that will help us track these kids and collect all their information and get them surgeries that will save their lives. However, we don’t just want to “Look After Them” just once, we want to tell them why we do this. We do this because God Loves Us, and so he asks us to Love Others and tell them about him. It is very scary for kids and families when a kid has to have a surgery. We get to let people know that not only are we here for them, but even better news that God is here for them.

We are using a Medical Records program that is called OpenMRS. The great thing about OpenMRS is that it is a free program (open-source). Organizations all of the world use it for different healthcare programs. However, since it is open-source, we have to do a lot of work to design it and make it work for us. The way OpenMRS collects data is using website forms. An example of a form is on my blog If you look on the right hand side, do you see where it says, Sign Up for Updates. People can type in their e-mail address and name. When they submit the information is added to a database, a spreadsheet full of the names and e-mail addresses of everybody that has ever submitted their information on that form.

I am not a computer programmer, so I am using volunteers from across the world to help me prepare the forms that we need to collect the information on all the the kids that need heart surgery. I need people that know how to design web forms using HTML.

Would you like to try a few things:
Read through this website to learn how to write webpages in HTML. It is a tutorial that talks about HTML and how it works. Now, one thing is that it mentions a program called Netscape Navigator. That is an old internet browser that is not used much any more, but if you want to try to do the things it is asking you to do, you can do the same thing with Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Firefox. Whatever Browser you use when you are on-line.
What kind of information do you think we need to collect from kids before they have surgery. Can you come up with a list of questions you think we need to ask the kids, their parents, or their doctors, before they have surgery. To design a form, first we have to decide what questions we want to ask.
Many people don’t realize that Computer Programmers are needed on the mission field. And the best thing about computer programmers is that they don’t have to travel anywhere. They can help from their office or their home, they can help anywhere they have access to the internet. I need people that can tell others about this need and opportunity. So, can you tell a group of people either a Sunday School class or small group at your church that Computer Programmers can help on the mission field, and if anyone says they would like to help, then give them my e-mail address.



I sent it off hoping, that this was the information that Jared needed for his badge, and that maybe it could interest him in an aspect of missions that many people don’t consider. I was surprised by his mom’s response;



Thank you for taking the time to write. Up until we wrote you, we really did not know exactly what type of work you and Melissa do in the Dominican Republic. I am glad you included exercises for Jared to extend his understanding of how technology helps your ministry. We will have him take the letter to share with his Brigade group at church.

On a more personal note, your ministry to those kids with heart problems touches Rod and I deeply. I have read through your letter a few times and it still moves me. When Jared was born, he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (critical aortic stenosis) and was moved to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital for balloon valvuplasty (like angioplasty) at just 2 days old. It was a very emotional time, as he was a newborn and were not sure if he would even survive. Thanks to highly qualified surgeons and God’s care, he is a healthy functioning young man today. Although his heart is not 100%, he can live mostly a normal life (no contact sports or sprinting).

We will continue praying for your ministry and spread the word of your technology needs. Even this far away, I’m sure there are those that can help.

Thanks and God Bless,


I hadn’t know how personal this would be for Jared and his family, but I am glad that he had access to surgeons and surgery, because in Haiti and the Dominican Republic most children don’t.  You can earn your Christian Service Brigade badge too!!!  Help spread the word about how we are “Using Technology for Christ” and help us find people with these technology skills to partner with us.

3 Responses

  1. John & Dava Lee

    Wow! John, you two continue to amaze us in your willingness to go the extra mile for others. Truly you are a blessing to all who know you and Melissa. Thank you for taking the time to bless Jared, just like you give of your life daily to bless the youngsters at the Children’s Home and the hospital and the surrounding community and the Haitian church, etc., etc., etc.
    GOD KNOWS ALL! He loves you and we do too!
    John and Dava Lee

  2. Lisa Heinrich Ramirez

    John…….what an amazing story of how God touches people’s lives even through a blog about what you all do. I am touched and brought to tears as I read this in my classroom. I am going to specificly share this blog with Jerry. We know and go to church with people who are always looking for something new to give to. And I will also press the matter of us getting a group together from Lubbock to go to the DR. My prayer is that I have the opportunity to serve God along side you and your family. I love you guys!!!

  3. Sheri Mitchell

    I don’t know what brought me to this particular post but “something” led me here. When I read the passage from Matthew it gave me goose bumps! There is a lot of gossiping that goes on where I work. I have been trying REALLY hard to not participate in it over the last year. When someone brings up a topic I change the subject or just tell them I don’t want to discuss it. I have used that particular passage before, especially when people want to say bad things about others. What if that person where Jesus? Would you turn them away or turn your back on them? Would you tell them that you don’t have the time? or that you just don’t have enough to share? No they wouldn’t. The thing is we should treat everyone as if we or they where Jesus. He wouldn’t turn us away and he will always have time for us. Thank you so much for what you guys are doing down there in DR, they are VERY blessed to have you. 🙂

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