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Outreach program enriches local participants

By |2018-01-16T06:48:32-05:00October 31st, 2017|News|

By Jillian Bogater
When Steph Maxson sat down last week to eat with a group of children in the Dominican Republic, she watched in wonder as they sat quietly, not touching a morsel of food, until someone said grace.
The children recited a prayer in Spanish, arms and faces lifted to the sky, giving thanks for life.
“I had never experienced faith like that before,” said Steph Maxson, a member of Divine Peace Metropolitan Community Church in Pontiac.
Maxson was among four members of her church to join the Blue House Effect as it journeyed to the Dominica Center for Integrated Growth and Development, located in La Urena, one of the poorest communities in the Dominican Republic.
The group focused on providing training for teachers in the area to help improve education.
The work of Blue House Effect became even more important after the Dominican Republic recently closed all orphanages outside of Santo Domingo, resulting in a distribution of children throughout the community.
The organization’s mission statement aims to help, “Through the fostering of personal, social and spiritual growth, those who are abandoned, abused or at-risk throughout the world are empowered to make healthy life-effecting choices.”
Team members from Divine Peace MCC included the Rev. Deb Dysert, Bryan Miller, Angie Kurtz and Maxson.
Dysert, a pastor with Divine Peace MCC, led a Sunday church service during the eight-day trip.
“When we started to worship, language didn’t matter,” Dysert said of the mostly Spanish-speaking congregation. “Watching their spirit was unbelievable.”
The group spent time with about 30 children during the trip.
“Those kids had so much love to give,” Dysert said. “We went down to help them, and they all ended up helping us.”

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.