Jesus REALLY Loves the Children

Audrey recently had me read a book called Heaven is for Real. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It is about a little boy named Colton Burpo who had a terrible illness, and it looked as though he was going to die. His father, Todd, like any other father, was incredibly angry with the situation, with the doctors, with himself, and ultimately with God. It turned out that Colton was briefly taken up to heaven and shown things that no person living on the earth would know, let alone a child. Now, whether this story is true or not is up to the reader. I personally like to think that, yes; Colton Burpo was in heaven conversing with our Lord and Savior.

I say all that just as a preface to one of the chapters in the story. The chapter is titled Jesus REALLY Loves the Children. In this very brief chapter, Todd (Colton’s father) describes how Colton would incessantly remind his family how much Jesus loved the little children. He would wake up saying it. At dinner he would tell them. As he went to bed, he would remind them. During story time, teeth brushing, getting dressed, etc., Colton constantly was talking about how much Jesus loved the little children.

It is a precious thought, one that I personally love. I have always surrounded myself with children. I remember when I had barely entered the youth group, I volunteered to teach a children’s Bible hour. I mainly did it to follow in my brother’s footsteps, nevertheless, over the years, I have grown to truly love the little children.

That being said, sometimes I get a bit jaded. Having to travel to Rio San Juan in the muggy humidity of the Dominican is draining. And sometimes putting up with 70 screaming children running around the Christian Center is downright awful. However, whenever I get down and out, when I am tired and weary, when I think I am about to throw a child through the wall, Jesus comes and sends me a little angel to remind me how much he loves the little children. On Friday he did just that.

We have semi started a tradition at Club Chiquito where we ask for a volunteer to lead the closing prayer. Typically they come to the front, everybody puts their hands together and closes their eyes, Audrey or one of our teens whispers in their ears, and they repeat aloud whatever we said. On Friday, our Club Chiquito director for the week chose a sweet little angel to come lead the prayer. He bent down to whisper in her ear, but by the time he started to whisper words of prayer, she was off and running with the purest of prayers that only a childlike innocence can offer. It literally made me grin from ear to ear with joy. It made my eyes water a little bit. It forced me to open my eyes and just watch this little precious angel send up her heart to the Lord. I had never seen this girl in the Christian Center before; I hadn’t even had the chance to introduce myself. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was a literal angel sent for me and Audrey to recharge our batteries and remind us just how much Jesus loves the little children.



October 24, 2012 at 9:20 pm Leave a comment

New News

As many of you know, Jordan and I have lived here since the summer of 2011. Our hope in coming into this work was to stay until May of 2013. After much prayer and consideration, we decided to extend our commitment an extra year until May 2014! We are so excited to see all that God has in store for us in this endeavor.

We feel like our ministries are really thriving, sometimes to an uncontrollable degree, here in the DR. Our Monday night teen program, Princesas and Pescadores, has grown to over 40 kids a week. We have begun splitting up the younger kids from the older kids because of the number of teens showing up. It is so encouraging to see how our older group in this program has grown since the beginning. We can hardly consider ourselves their teachers when they are basically leading and carrying all of the discussions. I love hearing those kids share their hearts amongst their peers and I know it is because God is moving them to do so.

Our Club Chiquito ministry has also been very successful. We have created a program with our teens in which there are “Directors,” “Leaders,” and “Helpers.” The directors are under Jordan and me and basically lead everything as far as Club Chiquito goes. They choose the theme, the games, the stations, what Bible story we will be focusing on and more. They are also in charge of including the Leaders and Helpers and making sure they have jobs with the kids. Watching our teens lead our childrens program is truly incredible. They have done such a wonderful job the past couple of weeks and continue to find ways to lead our Children’s program.

All in all, we feel very positive right now about how the Lord is leading our ministries. Very often it is easy for me to question what I’m doing, whether I’m teaching the right lesson, or handling a situation in the correct way. However, through that uncertainty I believe God has used each and every circumstance to deepen His roots in our kid’s hearts. For that we are SO very thankful!


October 3, 2012 at 12:27 pm Leave a comment

Digging Deep

It’s a new school year at Manna Christian School and things are off to wonderful start.  As most of you know, we made the decision this past summer to add another freshman class.  So this year, we have a freshman and a sophomore class!  It’s pretty exciting having new students here, but as I’m sure you all can imagine, there is a stark difference between the freshman students as opposed to the sophomore students.  Sometimes it’s hard to see how much improvement our kids are making, but seeing the kids from last year right along side the new group of kids has really helped us see how much those sophomore kids have grown and matured.

Like any teacher, I love all of my students, but there are always those few that you just REALLY love.  Well for me, one of those kids is Ibelca.  She was the only full-time student I had as one of my disciples last year so naturally we got to be pretty close.  In our discipling time last year, we spent about half of the year building our relationship and the other half of the year doing various studies from the Bible.  It was a really good year, and I definitely feel like it was well-spent laying the groundwork for our discipling relationship.

However, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the growth that I’ve noticed in Ibelca the past few weeks.  At school with the new group of freshman girls, she (along with Graisy and Jailinne, two of our other sophomore girls) has gone above and beyond to make the new girls feel welcome and included.  She is excelling in every single one of her classes.  She is branching out and forming new relationships and friendships with other students at the school.  But the thing I am most proud of is her spiritual growth.

During one of our discipling times this past week, Ibelca and I were talking about heaven and what we thought it would be like.  In the course of this conversation we started talking about baptism.  It was so exciting to get to hear her perspectives and thoughts about this incredibly important issue.  I was able to tell her my story of how and why I was baptized and she even asked me a few questions.  I told her if she wanted to talk about it more or ever had any questions she could always come to me and she said she would.

That was probably the best day I’ve ever had with Ibelca.  Sure, we’ve done a lot of fun things together, played a lot of games, been a lot of places, laughed a lot.  But to hear her talk so openly about decisions that are so vital for her eternal life made me love her more than I ever have before.  My hope and prayer for her is that she will continue to think about her spiritual life and that I can be the guide and mentor that she needs me to be as she continues to grow.  Please keep her and all of our students in your prayers as we continue along with our second year of school!


September 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm Leave a comment

Week Number One

One week of the 2012-2013 school year is in the books.  Here are some observations after the first week:

1. We are so blessed to be a recognized school in the Dominican Republic.  This has only come about in the past few weeks but it is true!!!  It has helped us so much already and is going to be a huge blessing for our kids.

2. New kids.  We have 9 new students at Manna Christian School.  Adrian, Eva, Estefany, Isaury, Ivette, Luisauny,Keira, Overlín and Randy are doing great.  They are excited to be here and we are so excited to have them!

3. Old kids.  The 14 students that are back with us from last year are they also doing great.  They had a great summer with the groups but we really missed them.  I think the biggest thing that we have noticed since the beginning of school is how much these kids learned last year.  Having our new kids here this year has made everyone notice just how mature and how much our 10th graders grew last year.  They have been extremely open and inviting to our new kids, they remember so much from last year, and they have been a huge help to all of us this year.

God has blessed us so much to have this school and has blessed us with some amazing kids.  We are excited about this year.  Thank you all for your prayers and support.

chad mynatt

September 14, 2012 at 7:47 pm Leave a comment

A Graduation Celebration

On July 28, I was able to be a part of a very special day.  Rosmery graduated from high school!  It was such a fun day, and I feel so blessed that she wanted Chad and I to share this exciting day with her.

Several months ago, Rosmery had asked Chad to be her escort.  At graduation ceremonies here in the Dominican Republic, each graduate has someone escort him or her into the ceremony and walk with him or her to get the diploma.  It is usually a family member or a close friend, so when Rosmery asked Chad, he immediately felt very honored!

The day of the graduation arrived, and we picked up Rosmery at her aunt’s home in Rio San Juan where she had spent the entire day getting ready.  She looked gorgeous!  She was decked out in a beautiful new dress from the Beckham family, and you could tell by the smile on her face that this day was panning out to be everything she had dreamed it would be.

We took Rosmery to the park in Rio San Juan where she was supposed to meet with all the other graduates so they could walk in a parade with their escorts to the graduation site.  It was so much fun getting to see Rosmery meet up with all her friends and pose for pictures.  It was very obvious that she is a positive role model to those around her and it was really encouraging to see her in that environment.
After the parade, the graduation crew which consisted of me, Keely, Jeff, and Allison, left Rosmery and Chad and headed to the gymnasium to meet up with Porfi and Carla and some of Rosmery’s family.  Little did we know the night was only beginning.  Three and half hours later after diplomas and medals had been awarded, the band had played, the valedictorian had given a speech, teachers had been recognized, and every graduate had received a big round of applause, the class of 2012 threw their caps in the air and said goodbye to their high school days.
When all was said and done, we met up with Rosmery to tell her congratulations.  As her family and friends gathered around her to hug her, she got a little teary eyed.  It’s funny, but I remember having that same feeling when I graduated from high school.  Excited about the next thing to come, nervous about the unknown, but more than anything extremely blessed because so, so many have helped you along the way and they are all there around you to help you celebrate that wonderful moment.
Rosmery is an amazing young lady, and we are so happy that we got to celebrate her graduation with her.  She is still deciding what to do and where to go next with her life, so I ask that prayers be lifted up for her.  No matter what she decides to do, I know she will be successful and God will bless her.  Congratulations Rosmery!
~Jill Rhodes

August 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm Leave a comment

Home Coming

I believe the word homecoming is a bit of a misnomer. We typically use it in the context of a person coming home; however, if that were really the case, wouldn’t it be called “ComingHome?” That being said, I truly experienced a “Home Coming.” That is, part of my home came to me.

It is summer group time at the Manna Global Ministries compound in Bobita, and that means that we have youth groups coming in to help us with our ministry. Our first group came in from Levy Church of Christ in North Little Rock, Arkansas. This was my “Home Coming.” My home came to visit me. First and foremost, Jantzen, my niece, came along with the group. I absolutely adore my niece. I think so highly of her. We used to have weekly dates, and I’m not sure there is a better to-be-senior in all the world. She constantly smiles, blatantly loves, and every now and then quietly makes fun of (a quality she probably got from her uncle). To be able to see her for a prolonged period of time was a gift from God. To be able to share our ministry with her was an evident blessing. I’m proud of the woman my niece is, and I couldn’t be happier to have spend such quality time with her. LOVE YOU JANTZ!!!

Beyond my lovely niece, there were a few guys that I was incredibly pumped to see. Jesse Stacey, Derrick “Spooney” Starks, and Jarrod “Muy” Thomas were three young men that I had the pleasure of getting to know while working with Silver City Ministries in North Little Rock. Jesse and I interned in NLR together in 2009, and we created a bond through chicken wings, drive by water balloon fights, and watching one of our kids chew on his own toenails. We later coached Upward basketball together, and frankly became good friends. He is a man of God with a heart of gold, and I was so excited to see him. Spooney and Jarrod just graduated high school, and were able to add a whole new flare to our week-long mission program. Before they arrived, I had never seen anybody have to climb on top of the dorms to retrieve a poorly thrown set of keys, seen a group member offered to a beach vendor for 20 necklaces, nor been a part of intense games of Settlers of Catan. They brought with them a fresh perspective on this place. They are far from the typical youth group member, and I was literally giddy to see them climb off the Diahatzu in order to serve their Lord.

Then of course the youth group as a whole was an amazing experience. Their theme seemed to be setting the bar, and there could not be a loftier bar set by a group of teens for the rest of the summer programs. The last time I had been an intimate part of this group was 2008 when most of them were coming into the 7th grade. Now, the majority of the group that came was entering their senior year. Their growth in wisdom and stature was incredibly impressive. Josh Holland made comment after comment that blew me away. Dylan Sherrill never ceases to impress with his leadership. Maria Monserrat translated the entire week with unending energy. Peyton Templeton was always excited to just be on Dominican soil. The Hurst girls provided laughs and energy every moment of every day. Billy Sullivan was the creole speaker and the perpetual optimist. Justin Burns was the mafia, and he always will be. Special thanks to his mother Jackie who didn’t even come on the trip, but blessed hundreds of people through the prep work that she did. Alan Wood interacted with the kids as beautifully as anyone could. Michael York woke up with a smile on his face, and you couldn’t wipe it away if you were to punch him in the gut. James Jackson, Maggie Lee, and Josie Bates showed what a strong future this youth group has. To see leadership and service from some of the younger ones was really encouraging because it was profoundly evident that this youth group is in good hands with those three.

The Levy Church of Christ youth group is also in good hands with Aaron Davis. Casey Rine is the only person on this earth that can rival my brother and my wife in the best friend category, and I was quite worried for the future of the Levy Youth Group without him. However, my mind has been set at ease. Aaron is man with a heart for God and a heart for his people. He brought people from five different churches together and integrated them so well, that there only seemed to be an Ephesus-like mindset of one body, one Spirit, and one church. If all our leaders could integrate people of even the same denomination like Aaron did, the church body would be much stronger. Aaron also seeks out the lost better than most people that I have met. It is easy to find the spiritually lost on a mission trip, but it is much more difficult to find the emotionally discouraged, the physically drained and disheartened, and the socially unloved. Aaron did it. He made the effort to do it, and I was so proud to see this youth group’s leader lead by example, just as Casey did. Yes, the Levy Youth group is in great hands with Aaron.

The last, but not the least, would be the Hurst brothers. There aren’t many men I look up to as much as Doug and Greg. They both exemplify what Christianity should be. They know the word of God, but they take their relationship with the Father beyond the academic and actually seek an experiential relationship with him. They have shown me that stepping on people’s toes is not a bad thing. You speak your mind for the Lord, and you do it with pride and without shame. They truly have the joy of the Lord in their hearts. They have a blast everywhere they go because they are at complete peace with the gifts that God has given them. I am very grateful for these two, and I would like to specifically say to Doug that you are one of the most influential men in my life. Levy is very lucky to have a teacher, leader, and a friend like you in their congregation.

So that was my homecoming. It didn’t involve me packing up and coming home. It was my home packing up and coming to me, experiencing the things that I experience, loving the people that I love, and serving the Lord that I serve. Thank you Levy for sending me something special.


July 5, 2012 at 8:01 pm Leave a comment

School’s Out For Summer!

It’s hard to believe, but the first year of Manna Christian School is over.  One year under our belts.  And I’m not entirely sure who has learned more…the students or the teachers.

Our sweet little freshmen will be sophomores.  They’ve learned how to graph linear equations.  They’ve learned how to correctly accent words in Spanish.  They’ve learned about ancient world history.  They’ve learned how to balance chemical equations.  Now they know how to speak in French and English.  They know how to play volleyball, football, and Nukem.  They also know countless Bible stories and the books of the Bible.  But more than all of this, they are better people.  Ranger went from being an average student to truly caring about his studies and having one of the highest grades in most of his classes.  Yefri speaks fluent English and just last week decided to be baptized.  Cristopher has gone from having a horrible temper to being one of the sweetest and even-tempered kids in our school.  Renecito has opened up and become more outgoing with his peers as well as adults.  Jailinne has become a sweet, loving caregiver who is amazing with Connor.  Angel has become a leader at Club Chiquito with the younger kids who are a part of that ministry.  And these are just a few of the many, many positive changes we have seen in our kids this year.

As for the teachers, we’ve learned almost as much if not more than the kids.  We’ve all learned different ways that we want to teach our classes.  We definitely have learned ways that we want to discipline in the classroom.  We know more about our kids, how to reach them, how to relate to them, what makes them happy, what makes them mad.  We know more about ourselves, how we are as teachers, what works for us and what doesn’t.  And we also know that we have achieved a huge accomplishment.  Personally, this was my first year as a teacher with my own class, and while it has had its ups and downs, it has been a learning experience.  I feel like I have grown as a teacher and more importantly, I have grown as a person.  I have learned what my limits are, I have learned what is truly important to me, and I have learned that I have to choose to be happy no matter what my circumstances.  I am still growing in all of these areas, but I know that this first year of school has helped me come to these realizations.

So who has learned more?  I am not really sure.  We have all learned so much.  But I do know this.  We have had a wonderful year.  We are all exhausted and ready for a break, but God has prepared us for the next year to come.  We are all a little wiser, a little older, a little more mature, a little more prepared.  I pray that God will continue to bless Manna Christian School, the students and the teachers, in the years to come.  And now let’s celebrate because, as Alice Cooper sang, “School’s out for summer!”

~Jill Rhodes

June 11, 2012 at 8:05 pm Leave a comment

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Manna Global Ministries If you would like to partner with us in the work of Manna Global Ministries, donations can be sent to: Manna Global Ministries P.O. Box 2993 Clarksville, IN 41713. Or you can visit our website at: