God Opens Doors In The Caribbean!
By Ron Highley
Published June 1996
Oh, yes, we know the old jokes about being called to minister in the loveliest parts of the world. We see the appeal, of course, but it has never been a desire of ours to live on an island (come to think of it, we’ve been living on an island for 18 years, but it’s not the same, somehow).
Well, what can we say? After last October’s trip to Puerto Rico, several pastors wanted us to return because of the need for help for those caught in homosexuality there. We made ourselves available and waited for the Lord to move. Through Pastor Jesus Padilla in San German, a return trip began to take shape that eventually took us to both ends of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Our hearty thanks to all those who listened to the Lord!
It is always a challenge to me to tell adequately of such a trip. In 19 days we spoke at 4 church services, two 3-day seminars, 4 teaching and testimony events, 2 support group meetings, 6 radio shows, and 2 TV tapings. In addition, Joanne gave personal counseling 8 times and got to the beach 4 times! (I went twice.)
We are very grateful to those who opened their homes to Kim, Kenny, Martha, Dick, and Ron and Joanne. Thanks and God’s blessings to all of you for your generosity!
An overview of the trip.
The seminar at Pastor Padilla’s church in San German from May 2 to 4 was well attended and good questions were asked. Kim, Kenny, and Martha gave their testimony. Pastor Padilla offered LIFE office space in his church when the ministry starts! Our materials went like “hotcakes” and one woman paid for her syllabus with about 5 pounds of bananas – delicious. Sunday May 5 we spoke at a small church in Aguadilla, that was impressive in its worship. The guitar man and the keyboard man (he had one arm) were excellent, and brought good spirit to the worship. Five women danced in “worship” dresses and that was lovely. Of the 65 people present, 20 bought a syllabus! Who would have guessed such a response!
While in San Pedro de Macoris (Dominican Republic) May 6 to 10, we had a lot of fellowship and fresh fruit, and a lot of noise and dirt where we stayed with the lovely missionary family of Chiqui and Maria and their children, Noella and Jeremiah. They live on a busy, dusty street and it was quite a trial some days with 12 hours of traffic (6 AM 6 PM). Moreover, the city turns off electricity and water around 9 AM and it comes back on about 4:30 PM, and that makes for creative management of resources. The place is luxurious to some in missionary work, of course, and we were glad and privileged to be there.
On May 7, we spoke, sang, and testified at La Gran Comision in Villa Mella, Santo Domingo. The pastor, Fernando Perez, used to be a bodyguard for the Dictator Rafael Trujillo. Now he is a “strong man” for the Lord and it is a blessing to see. It was so good to have Martha with us to translate and testify, because she is from the Dominican Republic, and she was able to visit some familiar places.
The response to the teaching in the Dominican Republic was very heartening. The sponsoring church is Pentecostal (Joanne took off her gold chain) and could have treated the subject as only a sin issue. After all, we gave the 3 evening sessions at the City Hall because someone didn’t think we should speak about homosexuality in the church!
However, there was real interest in how someone gets free of the homosexual life, and 3 pastors wanted to know more and want us to come back soon to establish a support group. One said, “Nothing like this has been done before!” Praise the Lord that it’s happening now!
The evening sessions were powered by a generator and the power failed 6 times during one evening. At one point, Joanne spoke and Pastor Padilla translated in total darkness until the lights came on again. Later, Pastor Reyes used his TV camera light so Joanne could read her notes and go on teaching! The word of freedom went out to the people!
Our two interviews on the radio were useful because the interviewer asked really good questions and Martha and Pastor Padilla translated our answers. The Lord made good use of the time on secular radio!
We flew back to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico on the 30-seat American Eagle plane again. Flying at 6000 feet gave us a good view of the many islands and the astonishing opalescent green water near the shore of each island. There is nothing like the tropics. Each night at the City Hall the 12 French doors were open, with no screens and almost no insects! Amazing.
While the pastor and his wife were driving the four of us (Martha, Dick, Ron, Joanne) from San German to San Juan, the traffic slowed in our lane and a pickup truck pulling a trailer with 3 horses inside slammed into our trunk, smashing it and the rear window. Dick, Ron, and Joanne were in the back seat but none of us was hurt, though Joanne’s neck has been affected some. The man told us his brakes failed and he was very sorry. The police came right away (God was with us) and our luggage was not damaged. The Lord watched over us, we put it all in His hands, and went on to our meeting that night with the core support group in San Juan.
What a blessed group they are! We can’t share their names with you yet, but they are marvelous in their gifts and devotion to the cause of freedom, and each one has come out of homosexuality! They are planning to open up the meetings very soon. Please pray for them and wisdom for us in guiding and advising them. There is help in Puerto Rico!
The next morning Joanne and Ron spoke and sang at Catacumba Church #1 in Guaynabo, and Martha and Dick gave testimony. It is the first of a group of churches started in the 1970’s that met outdoors, dressed informally, and took a simple approach to the Kingdom of God. There are 15 in Puerto Rico now. A wonderful response there and on Tuesday evening too when we expected 60 to come out and 135 showed up! The hunger for answers to homosexuality is everywhere. One pastor invited us to come to Spain to teach. If God wants it, we’ll go.
We had some good sharing with a small group at Abundant Life on Wednesday night, a radio taping on Thursday, and dinner with the support group for San Juan. By the way, the city is named after John the Baptist. One of the banks has a huge stained-glass window with the quote from Luke 1:63, “His name is John” in Latin and a depiction of the Lamb of God. I want to know more of Puerto Rico’s fascinating history.
On Friday morning we flew to St. Thomas. More opalescent water and fertile islands, then met by Sharon Collins, Laurice Simonds and Sue Higgins at the airport. They took very good care of us, and we drove up (almost straight up it seemed!) a mountain (the Virgin Islands are very hilly) to station WGOD (that’s right). Its antenna of 6-inch tubing was bent double by the hurricane, but they are on the air. We had an hour of uninterrupted air time (the interviewer was away) for Dick, Joanne, and Ron, so we interviewed each other!
Saturday morning was the Women of Action breakfast meeting with 90 present. We spoke and sang, Dick played the piano provided by Don Collins’ moving company, and the people were very accepting and encouraging. After, we shared a teaching time with Sue Higgins at Zion Assembly’s Youth Rally, then a radio interview on WSTA. That evening we were treated by Don and Sharon to a most pleasant tropical dinner experience at the Chart House. Lovely furnishings, no walls, breezes, and excellent food – our cup runneth over (Psalm 23).
Sunday, May 19, we spoke and sang at an 8:30 AM service of Church Alive in Christ. A wonderful response by the congregation, led by the gifted Juan and Iris Hernandez (you will hear more about them in the future). Then a 30-minute ferry ride to a church dedication on the island of Tortola in the British West Indies. This was more straight-up driving on narrow roads (good drivers) to a mountain top and an impressive, brand-new church building. A powerful and orderly 2-hour service full of love for the Lord’s kingdom and purposes, and some good food, then back to the ferry for St. Thomas. Ferries are not as romantic as I had hoped – they are noisy and crowded, but the scenery is great! One more counseling session, and then to bed, packing in the morning for San Juan and then New York.
Let me tell you what clear messages we got from this trip.
There is a need and a desire for ministry in the Caribbean.
God will provide. We went in faith, spending $3,100 total and received $3,400 in donations. Thanks to all of you who support us so we can do such things!
Many of God’s leaders have unresolved issues and needs and we love to be used by the Lord for them.
As elsewhere, God’s work will be accomplished supernaturally and we must follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
We are going back in September to speak in more places and establish ministries that will bring real freedom to those who seek it. (St. Thomas has a “gay” paper.)
The more we do, the more we learn; God’s people are delightful everywhere we find them, and He opens doors no man can shut!
Please be reminded that there are many who don’t like what we are doing. I spoke on the telephone to a man in the Virgin Islands and it went like this:
He: “No one has the right to judge someone else’s worth or to make them feel bad about themselves!”
Me: “Of course not, but it isn’t judging someone’s worth to say they
have a problem that…”
He: “Who says it’s a problem?! Only those whose idea of God is twisted! God loves everyone equally – we are all His children!”
Me: “Aren’t you aware that homosexual feelings have been found to come from childhood hurts and alienation?”
He: “Listen, I had a very good Christian family background, and I’ve worked with all kinds of people and the only problems they had were with people who didn’t accept them…”
Me: “Well, we’ve worked with over 500 people here in New York and haven’t seen anyone with homosexual feelings that didn’t have some kind of trauma or pain. Most psychotherapists also agree…”
He: “That’s the kind that come to you maybe, but the people I see are just that way – God created them gay and that’s who they are. Don’t you know that?”
Me: “Sorry, but that’s a narcotic way of dealing with people’s problems. Are you going to just ignore their early lives and the things that happened to them?”
He went on quite excitedly in the same mode of argument and when I asked if he were saved, he hung up. The need and the resistance are everywhere, so we are really thankful for your ongoing support of gifts and prayers!