Placing All Hope in Him - Spiritual Lessons from the Pandemic
Around five years ago the Dominican immigration patrols in our small town in Jarabacoa launched intensive raids on undocumented Haitian families to deport them to Haiti.
Concerned about its potential impact on our Haitian students and their families, I visited the family of one of our students from ANIJA School. She was a bright 13-year-old who had grown to be an excellent student. She had quickly adapted and had learned to read Spanish over and above her native Haitian-Creole.
Worried about her wellbeing, I asked her if she was concerned or scared, hoping to offer some words of comfort. Instead, she surprised me with her reassuring response, “God has protected us and provided for us here in the Dominican Republic and He will do the same if we need to go back to Haiti.”
This encounter left an indelible mark and made me deeply aware and thankful to be part of a ministry that introduces children to our loving and powerful God and places all hope in Him. This pandemic in a large scale way has given our workers and children more opportunity to demonstrate trust in God’s provision and protection.
In normal times, all classrooms start with daily devotions and additionally Bible studies for all our students to learn about God. In our residential programs, family devotions and worship times on campuses help youth develop and deepen their relationship with God. Additional discipleship programs and weekly discipleship clubs for teenagers further opportunity to strengthen learning, knowing, serving, and pleasing God.
Our children and youth also learn to apply teachings such as “loving your neighbor” and “honoring your father and mother” with each other, their families, and their communities. Over time the results of these efforts have been encouraging.
Recent studies from Kids Alive’s oldest schools indicate that youth from our sites are five to six times more likely to be a member of a church ten years after high school and also less likely to be a single parent. Additionally, most youths in our residential ministries profess their faith and choose to be baptized as teenagers.
One of the benefits of the pandemic has been the visible spiritual growth of our students and staff, manifested in their dependence on God which is more visible. The gratitude expressed for provisions and protection has been widespread and genuine, from among those quarantined within the residential campus walls to our school children’s families who at times wondered whether they would have another meal.
Our staff has worked tirelessly and has creatively kept teaching about God via smartphones, printed devotions, and home visits. With help from God’s extended family, we have been able to be His hands and voice, teaching about safety and patient trust along with providing sustaining provisions to literally thousands of youth and their families.
In the future when we look back on this time, I am confident that despite, or perhaps because of the hardship and uncertainty, we will clearly see how God used this time to trust Him more and place all our hope in Him.
Kids Alive Dominican Republic
An interview with Juan David, teacher,
Santo Domingo East School
Juan David is the sixth-grade teacher at Kids Alive’s Santo Domingo East School. This is his second year of teaching at the school. He has been given the responsibility of teaching the class of oldest students because of his excellent teaching and relational skills.
How are you promoting students’ and fellow staff’s spiritual growth?
We now teach via social media and along with the lessons we include daily devotions as we used to while teaching in a classroom setting. We have been in more contact with families sharing Christian songs and motivational videos. Recently all teachers took a day to visit their students at their homes. During the visit, we prayed, sang, and talked with the children and their families. Currently, the neediest children and their families are provided food cooked at the school. The staff uses the food delivery time to grow relationally closer to the families as well.
How are children and their families experiencing God's protection, provision, and love during the pandemic?
Our children and families live in homes and communities where (social distancing) space is limited, and this makes them vulnerable. However, all the children and their families have remained healthy and are in good spirits. They have been attentive to devotionals and to the lessons on how to stay safe from COVID. Many express their gratitude to the Lord who has provided food and other materials through Kids Alive. Also, the mother of a girl who struggled to walk due to a childhood illness told me a few days ago how God had healed her child and she praised God that she could walk without crutches.
What have you personally learned about God during the pandemic?
I have learned how much I really appreciate physically going to church and worshipping with other believers. I missed church when we couldn’t go and am thankful that we can now be present again (with specific protocols).
Is there anything else you would like to add or say to our sponsors?
Thank you for your generous hearts and your desire to help others. May the Lord continue to bless you and care for you (donors and supporters).