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 Diana Nunez, house parent, and teacher, Ark Constanza.
Diana and her husband, Wilkens, work for Kids Alive. Diana is known for her hospitality and compassion for children.
How have you seen spiritual growth during the pandemic?
For those of us quarantined in Ark Constanza during the pandemic, the daily devotions focusing on topics such as forgiveness, love, and grace among others, have been very important. We have devotions in our home every day, and once a week the whole campus rotates to gather in different houses for a time of worship, testimony, and devotion. In the midst of the pandemic, we learn together to continue to trust and believe in a God who can do everything.
How are you witnessing to each other during this time?
In a beautiful way, several of our youth have tried to help their extended family, friends, and others outside our campus. Realizing we had sufficient food within, we asked and received permission to prepare care packages to share God’s provision with families in need in our children’s communities. Our youth prepared the packages that were disbursed to their families. Additionally, as a part of our ministry, we have passed out Bibles to some school kids and the Ark youth have provided spiritual guidance through the fence.
How have you grown personally?
Above all, we have learned the great love and care that God has for each of his children. During this dangerous time of COVID-19, God’s care and protection have been sufficient.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I want to say thank you very much to those who support us. Despite the extreme hardship in the United States due to this pandemic, you have continued to faithfully support the ministry and I am grateful to each one of you. May God bless you and your families. We always pray for you.