The 25 Project partners with believers around the world to carry out effective, local ministry to orphaned and vulnerable youth. Elizabeth Herrera has been a ministry partner with the 25 Project for 4 years, serving children from two impoverished villages in the Dominican Republic.
Elizabeth’s sacrificial and servant leadership has won the trust and admiration of the communities she serves as well as every team member who has worked with her during an expedition. Despite her faithful ministry to the children of Villa Laura and Lecheria, Elizabeth shares that even her ministry is not her ultimate fulfillment, but Christ.
I want people to know that my joy is not from the children. My joy is from being saved.
Elizabeth’s road to Christ was not an easy one. When she was 23, she became a single mom young, afraid, and lacking any knowledge about how to be a mother. As she tried to navigate separating from the father of her son, getting a job, and wondering if she was doomed to never be married, she reached a state of despair that lead her to thoughts of suicide.
“Being young and a single mom is not easy… especially in the DR. I was out of a job, struggling because I couldn’t afford to provide for my son, and many days we went to bed hungry. My solution was going into a second relationship, but it ended up being worse than the first! This was NOT what I was expecting for my life.”
In her state of despair, Elizabeth suffered a stroke. She eventually recovered but was resistant to contributing her renewed health to any act of benevolence on God’s part. Then one day, unexpectedly, God came into her life.
Elizabeth was walking in the city and saw a church that was having a service early in the afternoon on a weekday. This struck Elizabeth as very unusual, since churches typically only hold services on Sunday mornings or evenings. No one was there inviting her in and the doors were closed. But something drew her in, and she walked in and sat down to hear the message.
“I honestly don’t even remember the message, but it was like a blast to my heart! Conviction of my sin came, and I accepted the Lord as my savior that day, along with many others. Without a doubt, I knew, this was my time.” Elizabeth was even baptized that same day.
“My hair, my clothes, I didn’t care about anything… I walked home laughing and all wet! I was like a new person, a new creation!”
After her experience with Christ that day, reading the Bible became Elizabeth’s passion. “I started reading the Bible like crazy and was addicted! The house needed cleaning and I needed to do my daily things, but I couldn’t stop reading.”
When she read Isaiah 54:6-10, “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back,” Elizabeth saw herself through God’s eyes.“
God told me, “You thought I wasn’t there, but I was with you. Those painful things that happened to you were a time of learning.” God wanted me – He wants all of us – to understand that the hardships, the pain, are all seen by Him. He was there.”
Elizabeth had sought happiness and meaning in people, but always felt there was something more she was missing. God used her time of wrestling with that sense of purpose to finally bring her the answer in Christ. But as Elizabeth began to share with her family and friends about her decision to follow Christ, she faced doubt and ridicule.
“’You will not make it and you will not be fulfilled'”, people were telling me. It was a little frustrating to hear from those people, but I knew this was what I wanted. I would NOT go back and didn’t care what they said. This was my decision. God himself, through the Holy Spirit, saved me and made me know that this is what I need. It was like I was an empty cup, filled to overflow.”
Elizabeth’s story rings true for so many others in the Dominican Republic, and it is through her painful past that she is able to have compassion and understanding with the families and kids she serves every day. Her testimony of finding hope and love in Christ in the midst of pain and despair serves as a beacon truth to her community and the children she serves who are looking for the same sort of hope.
“So, you see, my happiness is not all from working with the children. My joy is not all about the kids. I actually never thought my call would be with children until I found my satisfaction in the Lord. And now, my joy comes simply in serving this ministry and pouring into these children for the sake of Christ.”
This article was first featured in our 2018 | 2019 Annual Report.