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 Margaret Andujar, school co-director, Santo Domingo School North.
Margaret co-directs the Kids Alive Santo Domingo North School. She has worked with Kids Alive for over 18 years. Starting as a teacher and she went on to become a residential director and assumed her current position eight years ago.
How are you nurturing spiritual growth for both students and staff during this time?
Every day through cell phones we send an age-appropriate reflection or devotion to each child. Though kids can’t come to school physically, we visit their houses to share God’s word and pray for their needs.
Our staff is working through a Bible study where we evaluate ourselves on how God might see us and we talk about topics such as pride, patience, and holiness.
How are children and their families experiencing God's protection, provision, and love through this pandemic?
One student’s mother who has a strong relationship with God is married to a husband who doesn’t share her faith. He gave her some money to buy food for her and their children. Later, in a fit of anger, he took back the money. When she protested saying their baby had needs, he told her, “Tell your god to give you what you need to eat.” Coincidentally, minutes later one of our teachers and my husband, Juan, showed up with groceries at the family’s home as part of our food distribution for needy families.
In another instance, in a family where the father had lost his job, the mom began to pray on her knees for God’s provision of food. Shortly after her prayer, one of our schoolteachers happened to come with groceries for the house.
What have you personally learned about God during this time of COVID?
I have learned more about God’s promises and great love as He protects and provides for us. I have also been able to study His word more. I believe I have gained a better understanding of what it means to wear the armor of God.
Is there anything else you would like to add or say to our sponsors?
Thank you for your help and fidelity. It is good that you understand that although you are not with us, your provision allows us to be God’s hands in helping families and kids.