The Emanuel County Youth Night of Worship will return to Swainsboro on March 2, 2024. Leading up to the event, we will be spotlighting youth in our region who are making a difference through their faith and relationships with Jesus Christ. You can find their stories on Facebook and Instagram on the page, “Youth Night of Worship.”
To begin the series, is the story of a group of Emanuel County Youth who used their Christmas Break to change the lives of children in the Dominican Republic. Read on to find out more of this intriguing story.
John 3:30 ”He must become greater – I must become less.”
Mr. James Holton “Holt” Rowland, of Blackshear, Georgia, passed away at age 16 in November 2010, from injuries received in an automobile accident in Pierce County, Georgia. He was an accomplished baseball player with a bright future before his young life ended too soon. The most defining characteristic of Holt was his relationship with Jesus Christ which defined his relationships with others. In his memory, his parents established the Holt Rowland Foundation to continue his legacy.
The mission of The Holt Rowland Foundation is to advance the educational, spiritual, and athletic aspirations of youth in Pierce County, surrounding counties, and internationally. Holt Rowland, the namesake of the foundation, did just that. He put His spiritual life, which was based on a firm foundation in Jesus Christ first. Holt took his education very seriously, and he worked hard to develop the athletic talents that God gave him. Therefore, in his honor and memory the foundation strives to assist in developing the full potential of youth in our community and in our world.
In 2017, Holt’s House of Hope was established in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, with the vision of providing a place for the children of Boca Chica to come and find community through Biblical discipleship, education, fun and training in various skills that will allow them to achieve their fullest potential. The mission of the foundation is to provide refuge, restoration and hope for the boys and girls of Boca Chica through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The leaders hope to make an eternal impact on the Dominican Republic by sharing the hope of Christ with the boys and girls today-understanding they will be the leaders of tomorrow.
As one leaves the airport of Boca Chica, a province of Santo Domingo, he/she sees a city much like the cities in America with shopping malls, traffic, and a cityscape with many businesses and industries. However, as the traveler moves from Santo Domingo toward Boca Chica, he/she sees a completely different lifestyle with many of the homes having dirt floors and water collection basins on the roofs. In the USA, approximately 15% of the population live below the poverty level. However, in the Dominican Republic, that number is closer to 30%.
Holt’s House welcomes mission teams of all ages. Medical Mission teams provide care for the boys and girls: other teams assist in building projects while youth groups and mission teams minister to the boys and girls.
This is where the youth of Emanuel County enter the picture. With organization from leaders Matthew McNeely, Chad Thompson, and Kimber Haskins, ten students, aged 10-19 spent 7 days of their Christmas vacation with ninety-four children ages 8-18 in Boca Chica. From noon until 8 pm daily, the Youth of Emanuel County ministered to the children through devotion time, crafting, playing, working, and fellowshipping. Then, the local team prayed and worshiped at night before starting all over the next day.
The students traveling to the DR were Alisa Haskins, Charlie McNeely, Aleena Thompson, Kiera Thompson, Thai Thompson, Aiden Thompson, Jayden Beneteau, Samuel McBride, Grace McBride, and Landon Goodman.
Collectively, the students stated that it was a life-changing experience. For every little bit of hope and encouragement they gave the children, they received it back exponentially. The week’s theme: Live, Laugh and Love certainly rang true as the goodbyes were extremely hard. Many of the children at the refuge have never been out of Boca Chica. The visitors and residents shared educational experiences with one another that will last a lifetime!
The greatest takeaway, according to the students, is that language is not a barrier when you are sharing the Love of Jesus.
To find out more or help with the mission, visit holtshouseofhope.com or theholtrowlandfoundation.com, or their pages on Facebook.