Dominican Republic Trip with IJM

Ministry of Presence and the Opportunity through Exposure

The off-season always flies by…especially when the Dodgers play well into October. With the short

months they do have at home, the Kershaws aim to recover from a busy season and enjoy the

holidays with family. However, they also look for significant ways to engage with the KC

beneficiaries. In January, Ellen and Clayton traveled with a small team to visit our friends with

International Justice Mission (IJM) in the Dominican Republic. After a year of partnership with

IJM’s work, we were excited to see first-hand the progress and also continued needs of the DR


Office 03.jpg

We were greeted by the most incredible team from IJM, who work day in and day out to battle child

exploitation. We were deeply encouraged by their passion and professionalism—each person

uniquely equipped to place an active role in eradicating sex slavery in their country. They graciously

answered our questions and prepared us for the activities of the day. In short, we could not be more

proud of the IJM team serving in the DR—we are honored to called them friends and committed to

supporting their continued work.

L 26.jpg

The trip was a blitz—two and a half days crammed with meetings, appointments and long bus rides

in between. And yet, every moment was intentional and focused. The main agenda item for the trip

was a collection of meetings with national authorities, including President Medina, the President of

the Dominican Republic. I was struck by how powerful it was to simply “show up” and meet face to

face with people of esteem and political influence. In the Dominican Republic, baseball is the

national sport—by every measure. The island LOVES the sport of baseball. Clayton has known

many fellow Dominican players and teammates—one of the leading reasons we felt led to serve in

the DR. We traveled with former MLB player Adam LaRoche and his wife Jennifer. Clayton and

Adam coming into the country made a huge impact. Doors flew open. Meetings happened. The

President of the country opened his door and welcomed us in. Conversations about the exploitation

of children were brought to the table and addressed. Conversations began and continued. The

ministry of presence—simply showing up—made a tremendous impact. We are grateful to God for

His work and the opportunity to see it unfold.


Another unique aspect of the trip was the opportunity for exposure. IJM connected with ESPN and

they quickly came on board to cover the trip as a SportsCenter special. The ESPN crew traveled

with us and respectfully covered the busy few days. As busy as it was to have a full crew along for

the trip, Clayton and Adam understood the significance of the opportunity. The fight against sex

trafficking is ignited by exposure. In a recent LA Times article, Clayton made this awesome point,

“The biggest thing about trafficking is bringing to light what is happening. That’s half of the battle.

These people that run these boys and girls, they want to live in darkness. They don’t want to be

seen. They don’t want to be heard from.”

But then exposure happens. Then a trip happens and ESPN airs content about the injustice

happening all over the world, specifically in DR has highlighted by this trip. Darkness is defeated by

light every single time. When light shines on the darkness of this broken world, evil must flee. And

because of exposure, opportunities are multiplied and change is happening. What a gift to have the

platform of an ESPN spot to shine a light on the deep darkness that traps so many children around

the world.

DJ 19.jpg

Every time you go on a trip, you have hopes for what you want to see and what you want to take away. It is safe to say that our time with the IJM team in the DR exceeded everything we could have expected or hoped for. And yet it happened in ways we didn’t anticipate—through the ministry of presence and the opportunities that stem from exposure. Glory to God!

Ellen Kershaw