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
Grismeydi has served children at Palo Blanco School for over four years. She started as an administrative assistant while finishing her university degree in psychology, and four months ago became a student counselor. She is a blessing to students and colleagues.
How has the school been nurturing spiritual growth during the pandemic?
Each teacher takes up to 30 minutes to share a daily devotion with students. For our staff working remotely, a colleague sends a daily reflection via WhatsApp.
How are children and their families experiencing God's protection, provision, and love during the pandemic?
God is using Kids Alive to provide and protect children during this pandemic. Adrian is one such child, who lives with his mother and grandmother. We have actively been following up on his behavioral and emotional problems. Additionally, we have provided food and medication when the family has been in need, and when Adrian was sick.
How have students and their families grown spiritually?
Liliana, a mother of two of our students approached us for help with reestablishing the relationship between her sons which had been strained. We had a small intervention through which we recommended strategies to re-establish communication between the brothers. A week later, we visited her home to follow up more closely on her case. Liliana expressed her gratitude and for the follow-up and mentioned she had experienced positive relational changes between her sons.
What have you personally learned about God during this pandemic?
Psalm 32:7 – The Psalmist talks about God being our refuge, that He is our safety during this time. I have seen how God keeps and cares for both me and my family. The Psalmist learned about His protection, I have felt God's love and learned about His special care for his children. I have developed a better relationship and friendship with God.
Is there anything else you would like to add or say to our sponsors?
The way they help children in need is extraordinary. The help they have provided during this time of pandemic is of great importance, allowing us to help families with food and medicine and know more about God’s abundant love.