When we initially decided to come to Peru with Kids Alive, we had a pretty good idea of why we were coming. We wanted to take care of kids who need help, and this was something we knew Kids Alive did very well. We love Kids Alive's mission and vision. Here is a quote from the Kids Alive website:
Kids Alive International is a Christian faith mission dedicated to rescuing orphans and vulnerable children-meeting their spiritual, physical, educational and emotional needs.
Before coming here, we thought much more about the first part of that statement. Rescuing the orphans and vulnerable children. How important it is. How this is what Jesus told His followers to do. We know that the hurts of the poor and oppressed, of the orphan and widow, are close to God's heart. He cares about them and He wants us care about them too, and to do something about it.
But now, now our focus is on implementing the second part of that statement. HOW exactly do we meet these children's spiritual, physical, educational and emotional needs? The "rescuing" is only the beginning. From the moment a child is placed in our home, given clean clothes and a bed, and sits down to dinner with their houseparents and housesiblings, they've been rescued. But now what? There is so much more work to do! We now have complete responsibility for the life, wellness, maturity and spiritual formation of this child that God has entrusted to us! What a privilege--but what a responsibility.
We knew this coming down. We were not naïve about the challenge this would be. But the enormity of the challenge and the responsibility of taking these wounded and hurting children and raising them to be mature, emotionally and spiritually healthy adults--while working within the limitations of a childrens home--always weighs very heavily on us. How, Lord?
I was a little surprised by some of the behavior issues we face with the children at the home. I am not sure why, because it makes perfect sense that kids coming from abusive or neglectful situations would act out. I hadn't realized that I had an un-thought-through assumption that the kids would be "grateful" and "relieved" to be living at the home, and perhaps "wise beyond their years" because of what they had been through. (Laughing at myself right now!)
And some of them are thankful and relieved. But some of them just miss their mom, and don't understand why they can't be with her. Some of them are too young to understand what in the world is going on. Some of them have incredible anger that is always bubbling up to the surface that they don't understand; anger rooted in events that they may or may not remember. Others have no idea at first how to obey their houseparents-no one has ever taken care of them before and they've just been in charge of themselves. Many have deeply ingrained bad habits and fears leftover from when they had to fend for themselves. These problems don't resolve themselves easily or quickly.
All children need a lot of guidance, teaching, training, and instruction to develop into mature adults, but even more so when coming from painful and difficult backgrounds. We need heaps of wisdom and grace if we want to even come close to meeting all of their needs. Kids have lots of needs. They need to be loved, accepted, forgiven, instructed, encouraged, corrected, respected...and on and on and on...
This is where God has been working to clarify our vision. Beyond the "rescue", to the "how" of leading them to healing and maturity. God has big plans for these kids, much more than just a nice house, clean clothes and a full belly!
(Click here to read Part 3!)