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 Misael Cruz, social-emotional care counselor, Constanza School.
Misael has served at Kids Alive’s Constanza School over the past five years. He is a dynamic and valuable member of the school team with the responsibility of counseling and training students and staff in emotional care techniques. He also trains all Kids Alive Dominican Republic staff in Trauma Competent Care techniques in order to better build trust and connection with at-risk kids.
How do you support the spiritual growth of students and staff during this time?
Since joining Kids Alive, I have supported the spiritual growth department in their work. I assist with devotionals for teachers and children at school. My work is now a fundamental part of many areas, especially spiritual growth. We believe that everything we do is insecure unless it has a strong spiritual foundation. From that perspective, our goal is always to make spiritual development central to all our programs.
How are children or families experiencing God's protection, provision, and love during the pandemic?
We have had to adapt to new ways to connect with children and their families. Though this has been difficult, we have developed ways to have deeper and more frequent engagement with our students and families. All children and their families in our school now receive daily devotionals and in the coming weeks, our goal is to open small meetings or Bible studies with parents in order to bring God's word to families more directly.
One of our students was left with her grandmother as her mother had to go away to work in the capital, Santo Domingo. She missed her mother a lot, especially because she faced some ugly situations in her grandmother’s house. Through the devotionals we sent out, this student became increasingly interested in God. One day she told a school leader that she was praying for God to give her mother back. While waiting and praying, she dedicated herself to doing chores at her grandmother’s house with love because she felt that God would want that. She decided to attend church and get to know God more. Recently, her mother returned. Now she lives with her mother and together they continue to learn more about God.
What have you personally learned about God during this time of COVID?
Living in quarantine through this pandemic, I have personally seen how God works in mysterious ways as the Bible says. This helps me understand that, although everyone stopped, God never did. This learning from the strict quarantine time helps me today to depend more on God and spend more time with Him through prayer and reading the Bible intentionally.
Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your donors?
Although, while parts of the world are on hold, we continue in full force to meet the needs of children, and our work in many ways is more important than ever. We continue to hope with great faith that we can see you again soon. God bless you!