Our staff members are currently ministering in and around the areas of Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic; Antigua, Guatemala; San Jose, Costa Rica; Lautoka, Fiji; and Masaya, Nicaragua. The Dominican Republic is about 600 miles southeast of Florida in the Caribbean Ocean. Jarabacoa is in the central highlands of the Dominican Repulic a 45-minute drive from Santiago. Guatemala is south of Mexico. Antigua is 45 minutes west of Guatemala City at over 4,000 feet above sea level. Costa Rica is in Central America north of Panama and south of Nicaragua. San Jose is the capital city located in Costa Rica’s central meda. Fiji is in the South Pacific east of Australia.
We care for those in need and share the Gospel through our Ministry Sites. Our staff at these sites are partnering year round with those in the community to care for their specific needs. Each student will be placed in one of these ministry sites. We take into consideration students’ interests and pursuits as indicated on their application. There are usually three or four students at each ministry site during the outreach working with one or two of our staff.
Students partner with our multi-cultural staff to share the Gospel with those in need. We have over 40 full-time bilingual North American and national staff in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Our staff live in and around the communities in which we minister and are committed long-term to offering opportunity for students and the poor to encounter God and discover their true identity and vocation in Christ.
Students must be at least 15 years of age at the time of the outreach to go to Guatemala and 14 years of age to go to the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Most of the team should have a growing relationship with Christ. A small portion of the team can be non-Christians. These should be people the team leader or a co-leader knows well and who are searching. They must be very aware of the purpose of the trip (to serve the poor and to draw closer to God), and they must be willing to follow all of the rules of conduct diligently.
In the Dominican Republic, Fiji and Nicaragua we have a ministry base where the entire team will sleep, eat, have meetings, worship together, and relax. In Guatemala and Costa Rica students stay with a local family with one or two other students. They eat breakfast with their host family and then gather with the other students for the morning devotions. After the day at ministry sites all the team members eat dinner together and then return to their host families.
We take food preparation very seriously and take as much precaution as possible to ensure safe, enjoyable and nutritious meals. We have cooks whose sole responsibility is buying, cleaning and preparing our meals. Students will enjoy discovering the many delicious Guatemalan, Costa Rican, Nicaraguan, Fijian or Dominican dishes.
We acknowledge that there are safety risks when traveling internationally and encourage you to be well informed and to be aware of the risks wherever your students are, whether at home or abroad. It is important to keep a good perspective when safety is concerned. It is our tendency to have an unfounded fear of the unknown or unfamiliar. Thus, when we hear about tragic events our assumption is to think the places with which we are unfamiliar are unsafe. However, we watch news reports about tragic events in our hometowns and think of them as isolated incidents. Often a situation like this sways our emotions and fuels our fears beyond what is reasonable. We must keep these tragic events in a proper perspective. It is important to remember that thousands of Americans and other foreigners reside in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Fiji, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua and thousands of others visit these countries each month without incident.
We have procedures in place to reduce the risks associated with international travel in an effort to make our outreaches as safe as possible. Some of the precautions we take are:
While no one can guarantee complete safety, we believe we have set up a program and follow certain policies that make this time abroad as safe as if we were wisely traveling within the United States. We also believe that the safest place for any student is in the center of God’s will regardless if they are in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Fiji, Nicaragua or in their home town.
We will assist you in developing an effective fundraising strategy for your team. We have numerous fund raising ideas and actual resources to assist you in raising the money needed for your outreach.
An example of how a student might raise funds for their outreach is:
Goal: $1,800 for a 13-day outreach
Andrew Grigg, Student, James Madison University