Dear Kingdom Partners,
Back in 1984, EAPE invested $10,000 in the dream of a young man named Tom Woodard. That dream was to restore the land in the Dominican Republic.
While working on a relief project in the Dominican Republic , where EAPE was developing a variety of educational programs, Tom realized that much of the increasing poverty of the country was rooted in deforestation. In order to make charcoal that was used for cooking purposes, the Dominicans were cutting down trees at a rate that staggered his imagination. Tom saw that when the heavy rains came the topsoil was being washed into the ocean, destroying the capacity of the land to grow food. Desertification was more and more evident and anyone could see that unless something was done soon, the future of the people of the Dominican Republic would only be marked by disaster.
Tom approached EAPE and asked if we would help him start a faith-based tree planting business that not only would promote reforestation, but would also create jobs for impoverished, unemployed Dominicans. We said "yes" to this dreamer, and out of his efforts came Floresta, a Christian environmental and economic development program which, according to the last report, has planted 3,599,810 trees.
If you fly across the island of Hispaniola , which the Dominican Republic shares with Haiti , you can see the difference that Floresta has helped make through its efforts. From the air, the borders between the two countries are dramatically visible. The Dominican side of the border is beautifully covered with trees, while the Haitian side is a barren wasteland. The trees that have been planted are bearing fruit that is harvested and sold, providing income for the farmers who partner with Floresta.
As part of Floresta's efforts, over 500 new Bible study groups have been established because, in the end, economic development really depends on developing people holistically, and especially spiritually. To date, we know of more than 1000 people who, through these Bible study groups, have made personal commitments to Christ.
Recently, the Floresta staff initiated efforts to reach across the border in the hopes of doing the same kind of good work in Haiti , where, as of now, they have planted 224,000 trees.
Floresta is expanding its ministry into Mexico (317,186 trees) and Tanzania (179,040 trees; and is developing a partnership with an indigenous tree-planting ministry in Thailand.
Floresta is on its own these days - you can find out all about it and even sponsor the planting of another tree at www.floresta.org/treeprogram.htm -- but back in 1984, EAPE provided the seed money that got things going. Back then, the $10,000 we invested in Tom Woodard represented half of all our assets, but investing in visionaries is what we're all about. It was the right thing to do!
So "Keep on keeping on" with your prayers and gifts, because without friends like you, guys like Tom would not be able to live out their calling.
P.S. I am getting up in years and have recently reviewed my will. EAPE is listed as a major benefactor. Would you consider doing what I have done? The assurance that the ministries of EAPE will go on long after I am gone is a joy to me. It could be for you, too!
ABOUT TONY + JULY 2008