ATN Moving Forward: Our Kids
Today we will begin our vision casting series that we have, very originally, entitled “ATN Moving Forward.” We will focus on 6 specific aspects of our ministry and try to look forward into both the near and not-so-near future of each of these areas. It only makes sense to start with the reason that All Things New began and our most passionate area of ministry…Our kids! We fell in love with these children almost immediately and they have been the driving force behind how and why GOD brought us down to Haiti. While these kids are part of this ministry, more than that, they are our kids. Jessica and I (and I truly believe many of you fall into this category as well) would do anything we could to help them become the men and women GOD has created them to be. We believe that GOD has bigger plans for All Things New and we will share some of those plans during this vision casting series, but our kids will always be our priority. Our mission statement is very clear about why we exist, we exist to worship Jesus Christ, and we believe that we worship Him by caring for His children.
Not long after Sophie came down to Haiti for the first time one of our girls, Gueline, turned 18. Because of her age, it was important to find her a new place to live and we were very blessed to have some friends close by who were happy to take her in and give her a place to stay (read the story here). When that was happening, one of our other kids, Kervinson who is also Gueline’s brother, asked me a very interesting question. He asked, “When Sophie turns 18, where will she live?” It was a sweet, innocent, and heart-breaking question because of the answer. When Sophie turns 18, she will probably go to College, get a job, or continue to live with us until she figures out her future. When Kervinson turns 18, he will probably be finishing up 7th grade and we will be trying to figure out where he will live and what he will be able to do with his life. One of the most difficult things about living in a country like Haiti is that it does not make sense that Sophie and Elijah will have completely different opportunities and advantages than any of our children at All Things New. Why? Because they were born in America? Because they have parents who love them and a family who cares for them? While it does not make any sense, it is true, and we have to live and operate in light of that truth and remember that truth as we think and pray about what will happen with our kids moving forward.
In 2017 and 2018, one of our biggest plans involves planning for our kids’ futures. We have to start thinking and praying about where our kids will live and how they will be taken care of when they age out of the orphanage. We believe that this will include some type of transitional housing so that our kids have a place to live while they are still in school and beginning to figure out the rest of their lives (kind of like your kid’s first apartment or dorm room in college). This is important because it will go a long way in taking care of their physical needs. We hope that sometime in 2018 we will be able to have a plan in place for transitional housing for our older kids.
A much more challenging thing that we have to start planning for is the fact that our kids are moving into an almost non-existent job market. When they finish school and grow older, they will be living in a community that boasts an incredibly high unemployment rate. In fact, the official unemployment rate in Haiti is listed at 40.2% (2010), but over 65% of their workforce do not hold formal jobs and even more than that are underemployed to the point that they cannot provide the most basic needs for their family. If you have been keeping up with All Things New then you have read (click here for more info) about our desire to create jobs in our community. While this comes from a desire to help the community where GOD has placed us, there is an even deeper desire and bigger reason that this is important to All Things New. We truly believe this next sentence is true:
If we do not help our children find their passion, a career, and a way to provide for themselves and their family, we have done very very little for them from a physical standpoint.
Sure we helped them to eat, we gave them a place to live for a few years, and we loved them and taken care of them, but that is not enough. It is not enough to take care of someone for a portion of their life if you are not preparing them to live, helping them find their passion, and making sure they have the tools and the ability to care for themselves and for their future family. We are not going to do that with Sophie, Elijah, or any other child we may have along the way and we are definitely not going to do that to our kids at ATN either. We plan on making these 2 things a large part of the ministry of All Things New (#1 in the next year and #2 by the end of 2018):
- Finding out what each child, as an individual, is passionate about and what they want to pursue as a career. Sitting down with each one of them individually and, depending on their age, coming up with a plan to help them reach their goals.
- Get involved in creating jobs for the community as a whole and specifically for our children. (We will expound on this point to a much greater extent in an upcoming blog)
Another one of the most difficult things about taking care of children in a place like Haiti is that we can become overly focused on physical and educational needs at the expense of the 1 true need that exists for everyone…A relationship with Jesus Christ. As you probably know we are all involved in a local church, we do a prayer and worship service each night with them, and we ensure that they are brought up in ways of GOD. These are things that we will continue to do and continue to improve upon. The last time we were there, we started being more purposeful about our nightly worship and I led devotion each night going through the book of John together. We are looking at ways to get more involved in the local church and in some of the programs and small groups that are offered. On top of that, one of our big pushes over the next couple of years (you can find out more by clicking here, and I will also expound upon this in an upcoming blog) will be to join with churches and pastors to teach and train in the art of discipleship. Stay tuned, and if you are one of our partnering churches, please join us in prayer for this endeavor. As we strive to make this a part of our ministry, our kids will also reap the benefits of learning what it means to become a more mature follower of Christ.
The bottom line is that we believe our kids are very well cared for and very well loved and we will continue to make this the major aspect of our ministry. Are there ways we could improve? Always! But we believe that this aspect of our ministry is so strong right now that we have the freedom to move into other ways that GOD can use All Things New in our community and in the country of Haiti. Thank you for getting us to this point and we cannot wait to see how our children continue to grow in Christ.