Want the Upstream delivered straight to your inbox every month? Subscribe Now!

Contents: A story that shapes us, impact updates from each of our partners, and resources for deeper engagement.

The Story

Living with resilience and hope.

Imagine yourself in a rocking chair under a gazebo. Your skin is still hot, but the sun is down, and the mountains outside La Vega, Dominican Republic, are making their noise. Local Leader Rod Davis is sharing his story with you.

Rod tells you about being kicked out of his house at 15 for selling drugs and joining a gang. How he overdosed at 20 and woke up to someone sharing the Gospel with him. He tells you about meeting his wife, Twila, at church and how he and Twila started doing something dangerous – they stopped just listening to the Gospel and started to live it. You rock a little slower in your chair.

Rod laughs, knowing the face you are about to make, and then shares why he, Twila, and their two young children moved to Barrio Maria Auxiliadora, the 12 street by 12 street slum in La Vega where you go if you have nowhere else to go. They’d heard it was where some of the poorest of the poor lived. That’s it. That’s why they went. The people God called his family were there, and they were hurting.

They were eager to serve these people, yet they almost lost everything. The people they came to serve instead had to care for them. Rod laments about how their lives fell apart. They got sick, and their kids got sick. They were broke and had no one to help. They were desperate and didn’t know a way forward.

Rod confesses if they’d had the money, there is no doubt they would have purchased airfare home. But they had no way back. Soon, it was so bad, and their fevers were so high that moms in the neighborhood started worrying and helping them and their kids. They nursed them back to health and taught them how to live in the barrio.

Being cared for by the community, they learned how to live in the community. And Rod says that this vulnerability became the foundation for everything they would go on to accomplish there. 

28 years later, the ministry of Rod and his team has built schools in the barrio that over 750 students attend each year, schools that are some of the top-rated in the region. They’ve provided clean water to 30,000 community members who previously had no options. They’ve helped families start businesses and pull themselves out of poverty. They’ve started a dental and medical clinic that provides crucial access to families who might not otherwise have it. They’ve started 28 churches, reaching communities of all backgrounds. They’ve discipled gang leaders who have now become pastors and community leaders. The work of Rod and his team has literally transformed an entire community in the Dominican Republic.

All of this is the outcome of Rod and his family staying through the hard times, even when, at times, they wanted to give up. It is because of the resilience and hope of the community and their ability to rally around one another to push forward in hope toward a better future.

The Data

Monthly Global Team Report:

Read our monthly Global Team Report, with impact data, stories, and updates directly from our partners around the world!

Read Now

The Deeper Dive

Perspective and insight from TEDx and our friend, Ashike Zema.

Learn how to live with a mindset of resilience…

Watch the Talk

Read how Ashike leaned into resilience and hope…

Read the Blog

Want to learn more about how to move Upstream together? Contact our team for any questions or to talk through how you can join this story and change the world!

“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

 Desmond Tutu