WEEK OF PRAYER: Demetrio quit running from God
imb.org/offering, where there are resources to promote the offering. For resources in Spanish, click here. This year's goal is $175 million. Carlos and Lily Llambes, the focus of this story, are among the featured missionaries in this year's Week of Prayer.
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (BP) -- Growing up in a rural part of the Dominican Republic, Mary wanted to move to the nearest city at age 18 to find work. When a woman offered to help, Mary thought it was too good to be true.
Mary thought she would become a maid when she arrived at a house in the city, but it was a house of prostitution.
"A man came on to me. 'Would you do something for me?' he said. 'What do you mean?' I asked. 'Do you have something to offer me?' he said. 'You have to do something for me.'
"I wasn't going to do it," Mary recalls of being propositioned. "The women working there asked me, '... Why did you think that woman brought you here?' I was ignorant of these things. I've never been with a man, I told them.
They let Mary stay in a little room that could be locked so no one could get in and then helped her escape. She found work as a caregiver for a person who was crippled and then as a maid.
That was when she met Demetrio Silverio, her future husband. He asked her for an extra mint she put on pillows as a way to meet her. After a little more than a week, he took her to meet his family.
The couple have been married 23 years and have two sons and two daughters. But it hasn't been smooth sailing for the couple. For years, Demetrio spent the money he earned each day on rum to drink with his friends.
"I drank a lot every day," Demetrio recalls. "I liked to be drunk." But Mary didn't, and she didn't like it when he drank either.
Mary found solace at a nearby church that she attended without Demetrio.
"I would come home from a church service around 11 p.m. and have to sleep outside with the dog because he was inside drunk," Mary recounts.
IMB missionary Carlos Llambes, pastor of the church at the time, and his wife Lily, saw Mary as a sad person when they first met her.
"I used to ask her, 'How is your husband?' And she would always respond, 'At home, drunk.' It was really weighing on her," Lambes said. "One day, I felt compelled to go and talk to him.
"When I met Demetrio, he was drunk. He's a tall man that could look right over me. To get his attention, I pushed him hard on the chest and told him, 'Hey, I'm coming to talk to you tomorrow. Be ready. That means, be sober so you'll understand what I'm going to say to you.'"
The next day Demetrio ran when he saw Llambes coming. "I was getting ready to get drunk," Demetrio recalls. "I had a bottle of rum in my back pocket."
Llambes followed Carlos down the street to his house.
"Craning my head up to meet his eyes, I asked him, 'Do you understand what Christ is about? You need to change your life. The only way to do that is through Jesus Christ,'" Llambes recalls.
"I explained to him ... what Christianity really meant. He repented in tears. He told me, 'I want to be obedient to God's Word. I want to be baptized.'"
As Demetrio tells it, "Carlos led me to Christ right there, with a bottle in my back pocket. When Carlos left, I threw it out. It was a very emotional day. I felt it all the way from my toes to my head.
"Thank God, I've never been the same," Demetrio says. "I haven't had a drink since that day."
Carlos baptized the tall Dominican on their knees in a kid-size inflatable pool that began to leak.
"By the time I lowered him into the water, his belly was sticking out from the remaining water in the pool," Llambes says. "So, the congregation began shaking the pool back and forth to create waves that washed across Demetrio's belly to make sure he was covered with water. The whole church baptized him. It was such a wonderful turning point in his life.
"He has become the provider that his family needed," Llambes says. "He's one of the men in the church that we rely on to disciple others. I take him out house to house, evangelizing. He asks for stacks of tracts to give out to people he encounters during the day."
Demetrio also talks with people in his hometown about the Gospel and wants to start a church there.
"Now, I pray for my family, that they always walk in the Lord. Carlos and Lily, we will always have them in our hearts," he says tearfully.
"We pray that the Lord will help us continue in the work," Mary says. "That wherever God takes us, we'll have an impact on people as the church here has done, that we show the same love for people as they've shown us here. Carlos and Lily have been a testimony to our family."
Watch Carlos Llambes tell the story of Demetrio and his other work in the Dominican Republic: