Local Artist Uses Talent on Mission Field
Murphy resident, Suzanne Berry completed her 13th mission trip to the Dominican Republic this year. She was accompanied by 17 other like-minded people.
This mission-oriented group formed many years ago when a Southern Baptist missionary serving in the Dominican Republic reached out to a church in North Texas requesting help. Over time, different people have joined this group to use their talents to help however requested.
The group’s liaison in the Dominican Republic is Franklin Rodriguez, a local pastor. Rodriquez has developed many satellite churches in the Dominican. He determines current needs and when the group arrives, he implements their talents to help with his different missions. Some of the group members work at universities helping with the English-speaking classes, some help with building projects, some teach Bible study and play games with the kids. Berry is a professional artist. In addition to being a distinguished painter, she also does caricatures. Before leaving on the trips, she pre-prints her caricature papers with Bible verses in Spanish and English. Wherever the group goes while on the trip, Berry does caricatures. Sometimes she is in a park in a city or a banana grove in a village. She said, “When the first person sees me, whoosh, the line forms immediately.”
Over the years, this mission group has built two churches in the Dominican Republic. She said, “We love to see our old friends and see how the church is thriving and how active they are.” This year, they stayed in El Quemaito, a village outside of Barahona.
During this trip, the men of the group enclosed a building by putting walls and a door up. This building will be used as a Christian Haitian church
On Sundays, the group attended church at the two churches they helped build.
While planning this trip, family members voiced concern about her safety, “My husband and son were very concerned about me going this year because of the recent crime and deaths in the Dominican.” Berry said, “I felt like God would protect me as long as I was doing His will.”
Berry explained her purpose of going on these trips, “Following the Great Commission. Jesus instructed us to share the Gospel with all the world. I’m never so happy and full of joy than when I am doing that, especially with the Dominican people.”
Regarding why it is important to her to use her talent this way, Berry said, “I feel called to communicate God’s love with this precious group of people. Because of my hearing disability, my caricaturing is my language of love. The joy I get from it is indescribable.”
Berry turned 70 years old in July. She said this might be her last trip, but she wants to try to go back, “If the Lord is willing.” If she can’t make the trip to the Dominican next year, she will join a national mission group.
If others are considering going on a mission trip, Berry advises, “Go with a willing heart and be flexible.” She recommends using your talents wherever you are called. “We are to use our talents and abilities to further God’s kingdom.”
Berry is a member of First Baptist Murphy.