Mackenzie Baker says going on a service trip to the Dominican Republic gave her the push she needed to decide to attend Canadian Mennonite University’s Outtatown Discipleship School next year.
While visiting a Haitian refugee village they went to a missionary-run clinic. When Baker asked a question about a poster on the wall, a missionary explained that 80 per cent of the people who go to the clinic are HIV-positive, and out of 1,000 people in the village half have the virus.
She says this led to the question of why HIV is so prominent, and heard how the young girls in the village are used for prostitution to generate income for their families.
“I was disgusted to think about this logically,” recalls Baker, adding the fee the young girls are sold for is 100 pesos, the equivalent just less than three Canadian dollars.
Baker talked with their translator, named Isachar, about how she felt and says he helped her understand how when people are in a state of desperation for money morals can be lost.
“Isachar told me that the only way these people can ever change is if they know the love of Jesus, until then they will be scrambling trying to meet their needs on their own,” she says.
“If they know the love of Jesus and learn to put their faith in his ability to provide and his word that’s when change will start happening, healing can begin.”
Because of these experiences, Baker says, “I believe a part of me is forever changed.”
“The issues of poverty, prostitution, and injustice has never seemed so real to me then it does now. This trip gave me a sense of peace about my life goals, and my plans,” she says.
Teacher Scott Kooy says Baker’s “righteous indignation” and frustration for the situation these young girls are in was a “really cool growth experience to witness.”
He says this type of service trip is a way to help students be global citizens, as they experience first-hand life and culture in a different country.
“It’s a good way for them to become a global citizen and see some of the injustices … and get angry about things,” he says.
Baker says the trip taught her that people who have faith in God “can have so much joy with so little.”
“The Christian people of this country, such as Isachar, live their faith beyond the North American norm, they trust in His promises and you can just feel the Holy Spirit by being around them, I believe that to be one of the greatest blessings of all.”