Mateo Begins Work with Community Development Program in DR

(Dec. 16, 2008) — ¡Bendecido! The newly-appointed director of the Church of the Brethren’s Community Development Program in the Dominican Republic, Felix Arias Mateo, always answers his phone with the greeting, “Bendecido!” which in Spanish means “Blessed!” This greeting, replacing the traditional “Hola!” expresses well his attitude towards life. As 1 Peter 1:3-7 articulates, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heaven and on earth. Even in the midst of life’s struggles, this faith is rock-solid for Mateo.

After the departure of Beth Gunzel, who devoted four faithful years to directing the program, the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships approved the hiring of a Dominican Brethren director. This supports the mission’s longterm goal of turning the program over to the Dominican church.

Mateo brings a wealth of experience and gifts to the program, having served as president of the program’s board since its inception. As well, he has been overseeing the program’s financial transition to working with Cooperativa Central, a Dominican credit union. Through the credit union, the participants will receive their next loans, develop increased credit, and have access to services and resources of the institution. Mateo will continue supporting the program goals of giving good support to local loan communities and participants, and will give general oversight to the total program.

In addition to these new responsibilities, Mateo also is pastor of a new church located in San Juan de la Maguana, and is moderator-elect of the Dominican Church of the Brethren.

Funds for the Community Development Program come from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund, which has just approved a final grant for the program. Ongoing funds for the program will be generated by the investment and participation with Cooperativa Central.–Irvin and Nancy Heishman are the Church of the Brethren mission coordinators in the DR.


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