Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

94 Students Serve on Spring Break Mission-Music Trip, Shenandoah Valley Academy, Universidad Adventista Dominicana, Samana Central church, Donald Short

94 Students Serve on Spring Break Mission-Music Trip

Story by Samuel Girven (’25)

In Santa Bárbara de Samaná, Dominican Republic, a small Seventh-day Adventist Church was earnestly praying. They faced eviction from their rented house of worship with no money or backup plan. “We didn’t know what we were going to do,” the church’s head elder says. “But then God answered our cry.”

Their answer to prayer came in the form of a spring break mission effort, organized by Shenandoah Valley Academy (SVA). Ninety-four students engaged in a multifaceted mission trip to the Dominican Republic in March. “We look for projects where students will have a positive mission experience and where we can make a big impact,” says Donald Short, principal. “We look for places where we can work with local church members … the Dominican Republic checked all the boxes.”

The annual music tour was combined with the mission trip, making the experience particularly notable. “SVA Music aims to glorify God, not ourselves. Music is mission, ministry and service. With this focus in mind, a ‘mission-music trip’ makes perfect sense,” Short adds.

The Music Department performed in several schools and churches across the country, including two Adventist schools in Santo Domingo and two performances at the Universidad Adventista Dominicana.

“SVA music tours are always mission-minded, with the purpose of sharing God’s love with others through music,” says Daniel Biaggi, music director. “People thanked us for sharing uplifting God-centered music. Even though the Dominican Republic is a Christian country, they rarely hear choir and orchestra music, so our contribution greatly impacted the locals.” The musicians later reunited with their mission trip counterparts and continued their music ministry in Samaná.

A major mission initiative was the church building project. In just over a week, the students constructed a church building for the local Adventist congregation in Samaná, fulfilling a significant need in the community and answering the church members’ prayers. The church, built next to the K–12 Adventist school, was constructed at the summit of a steep hill, providing a panoramic view of the surrounding seaside city. “We didn’t think it could be done,” Short told the congregation at the church’s inaugural service. However, the students persevered and ultimately managed to complete the church.

The Music Department also organized a weeklong series of music classes and donated sets of ukuleles and recorders. And notably, SVA musicians and featured speaker Hector Hernandez, a pastor from Georgia, held a weeklong evangelistic series at the Samaná Central church, resulting in 11 baptisms.

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