Serving Up Christ in the Dominican
Jessica Gates (’09) got a taste of what it’s like to serve overseas when she went to Jamaica on a task force trip with the Bethel volleyball team as a freshman. She loved the idea that sports could be used for missions. Now, the science education major serves as a missionary with Students International in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic, and uses volleyball as a ministry tool. Gates recently shared how her Bethel experience led her to the Dominican.
LD: When did you decide to live/work overseas and what prompted that decision?
JG: After [my task force trip to Jamaica], God really started moving in my heart to continue seeking other similar opportunities. I went on other task force trips and I continued to feel like God was leading me into missions. Finally, I had an internship here in the Dominican Republic with Students International and I really saw a need for sports ministry for girls. The directors loved the idea and had me filling out an application the next day!
LD: How did your time at Bethel influence your choice to live and work overseas?
JG: Bethel did a great job of providing so many opportunities to serve. For me, that looked like doing projects with the volleyball team, serving as an RA and going on task force trips. These, along with other experiences, have shaped the passions that I have today.
LD: Describe how you are impacting your local community.
JG: We currently have three volleyball teams from the community and run Bible studies and English classes with them. I focus on using the time to disciple the girls to be leaders and lights in their communities. It has been such a neat experience to watch these girls begin to really discover their identity in Christ despite the strong macho culture. I also put together tournaments where my teams compete against each other as well as local teams. We always bring in a speaker who gets a chance to share a message with the girls. Just recently, we have formed a new elite team called VC Revolution that the other three teams will try out for and will have the opportunity to travel around and play other cities.
LD: How did your time at Bethel shape you into the person you are today?
JG: The combination of great teachers, a wonderful coach and speakers in chapels helped me to really pursue Christ. I loved having the opportunity to play on the volleyball team. I also was fortunate to have great professors who took the time to work with me and help despite the busy schedule of season.
LD: What is one thing you miss about living in the US?
JG: Organization. For those who know me, you know this to seem ridiculous because I was a pretty messy, unorganized roommate. However, I do occasionally miss the organization and efficiency of American life. Simple things here take a long time, going to the bank can take an hour, phone bill another hour, etc. No such thing as online bill payments here. Things just take so much longer.
LD: What is one thing you love about the Dominican Republic?
JG: I love the simplicity of life. People are not worried about their personal schedule, because most of the time they really don’t have one. People are so willing to help with anything and just build relationships. It also is a bonus because I can find people who want to play volleyball almost any time of the day!