"And if you SPEND YOURSELVES on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday."

"The Lord will continually guide you. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."- Isaiah 58:10-11

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

New Faces, New Fears

We are nearing the end of Term 2 and after making the difficult decision to board Rachel, Julia and Caleb at RVA we anticipate quality time together during the break.  Our children have done wonderfully during this season and have embraced deepening their relationships with friends in the dorm.  They also have outstanding dorm parents which has been a blessing.   
We’ve also seen a lot of change at Oasis over the last few months. We’ve added more than 30 children to the Oasis programs!  It’s been an exciting time to see the empty beds we’ve prayed over fill up and watch seasoned Oasis children welcome new friends with open arms.
A few months ago, an insightful 8th grader asked me this question, “Do kids like coming to a children’s home or do they look at it negatively?”  It’s a great question.  Children who join an Oasis home eat nutritious meals.  Most of them sleep in beds with blankets and mosquito nets for the first time.  They have their health, educational, and social needs addressed.  They are surrounded by loving staff who genuinely care for them. It seems like an easy yes and it’s actually a resounding, “YES!” over time.  
We’ve had our staff go through the exercise* below and it helps answer the question in an eye-opening way so they understand what the children feel like at first.  We thought you may like to try it with your family. 
Answer the following questions:

Who is important in my life?

Significant Person _______________________

What groups do I belong to?

Group ________________________________

What do I do that gives my life meaning?

Meaning/Role __________________________

What gives me a sense of joy?

Source of Joy ___________________________

In what do I hold strong beliefs?              

System of Value _________________________

How do I know about and preserve my past?

History ________________________________

What locations or places are important to me?

Places _________________________________
These answers define who you are. They include everything of value to you and make up your identity. This is YOU! 
Now, look carefully at your answers and choose one and cross it out.  In your mind, take it out of your life completely.  Decide that you will live the rest of your life without that piece included. Think about being without this piece of your life for a few minutes. 
Then, do it again. Remove another piece.  Consider it no longer a part of who you are and sit with this for a few moments. 
Though it’s difficult, do it again.  Take out another piece of your life.  Cross it out completely and remove it from your life.  How are you doing?
It gets even harder.  Do it again.  Completely erase another area of your life. 
And again take out another important piece of you.     
Finally, do it again.  Remove one of the last two pieces of your life.  You can remain with one thing.  Just one.  Everything else is gone.
You just walked through an excruciating exercise and got to choose what you would remove from your life.  This is how children walk into our children’s homes but they don’t have a choice in what they lose.  They have literally lost almost everyone, everything, and every place that is important to them.  

We can tell them they are lucky to be at the home and that they will have everything they need. We can tell them they should be grateful, but the truth is, when they first arrive, they’re not.  They would rather have their parents back, or even their dysfunctional family and their crowded floor to sleep on with their brothers, sisters and cousins because it’s familiar and it is home.  
It’s why new children come to us with a blank stare and why they run away sometimes and why it takes time to feel safe and secure. It’s why ensuring children remain connected to their guardian family is one of the most important things we do.  It is why finding Jesus is critical because life IS hard and though everything else can change, He will not. 
We know from experience this changes over time as these children feel physically better from improved food and health care.  We know from experience, they will embrace this opportunity and they will find hope, education, joy, and Jesus.  We know they will connect with the staff and find life-long friendships with children who share their experiences. We know they will feel like their family has grown. We know what's coming... in time.
Please be praying for the new children at Oasis as they adjust.  And please pray for our staff who are working tirelessly to ensure these children feel welcomed and loved.  
*This exercise used with permission from Back to Back Ministries

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