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 Selena Bautista, office manager, Casa Monte Plata.
Selena grew up in Casa Monte Plata. She has been working for Kids Alive for the past five years. She oversees accounting and administration and helps with special projects in the children’s home. She is also finishing an accounting degree in university with a Kids Alive scholarship.
How are you promoting the spiritual growth of the children and youth during the pandemic?
We have had many spiritual growth activities on the campus which include church services, Zoom devotions, and small group discussions in and outside the homes.
How have your efforts impacted the children?
Young people have grown significantly seeing the hand of God working through His provision of health and protection. In one case God transformed an anxious, impatient, spiritually uninterested, self-centered teenage girl into a spiritually disciplined, self-controlled, and patient young person. Additionally, all our youth have deepened their trust in Him as they have experienced His protection and provision in Casa Monte Plata and learned of His provision for friends and extended family outside.
Are there other examples?
On Sundays, we hold our own church services within Casa Monte Plata while ensuring strict quarantine requirements. The older baptized youth participate by reading God’s word and teaching about themes such as “You are Special to God”, “God’s Purpose in Our Lives”, “The Love of the Father”, and “The Consequences of Sin.” All the youth are learning that God is in control of all things and has a purpose with everyone.
What have you personally learned about God during the pandemic?
God has worked greatly in my life, and during this time I have learned to be closer to him. He has provided for me and helped me to help my extended family (living outside Casa Monte Plata) during this time. I have seen God strengthen me spiritually and I have seen His promises fulfilled in my life. I have realized that He does not abandon us and that He provides for His people.
Is there anything else you would like to add or say to our supporters?
May our mighty God continue to bless your lives, your families, and your work. You have been a great blessing in the lives of the children and youth in Monte Plata. I personally am extremely grateful to God for each one of you – your provisions, your prayers, your care and compassion, and your disposition, and the way in which God has worked in my life due to your prayers.