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 Jacquelin (Dominga) Severino, academic coordinator, Eva Russell School.
Jacquelin has worked at Eva Russell School for 31 years. She currently oversees the curriculum planning and preparations of the teaching staff among other responsibilities.
How have you been promoting the spiritual growth of children and staff during the pandemic?
We as a school have devotionals from Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 9:30 via WhatsApp with all the school staff, focused each day on a theme such as the love of God, commitment to God, freedom in God, and intimacy with God, among other topics. Our students’ parents receive devotionals, prayers, praises, Bible verses, and words of encouragement and trust in God from our teachers.
How have children and families learned about God's protection, provision, and love during the pandemic?
Our families are very appreciative of the ministry and the way we partner with them. Recently, a school mother stopped by my house to tell me that she had nothing to feed her four children and that she was desperate. She was basically on her way out to beg for food when she received a text message that the school was distributing food rations. She told me that she felt God’s love and wanted us to know how grateful she was to God and Kids Alive. Another mother said, “Thanks to the school and to God, my children and I have sufficient food. I don't know how to adequately thank you.”
What have you personally learned about God during this Pandemic?
During the pandemic, I have learned more about God's commitment. It amazes me to know that He is the God who never fails, who does not abandon me and that despite what is happening to me, He remains firm in His love, His mercy, and His grace towards us. And I can say with certainty: Lord, your dedication is great!
Is there anything else you would like to add or say to our supporters?
On behalf of the children and their families, I just want to say, thank you very much for the abundant love that you demonstrate. May the Lord continue to bless you each day.