Module One: Starting Points

OVC Essentials Fall 2021 Module One: Starting Points

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    • #76238
      Leah St. Pierre
      CAFO Staff

      What knowledge or information from the content this week stands out as most significant as it relates to the broader causes, movements, and issues that feed into and have a relationship to the crises of vulnerable children and families? Was there anything new and noteworthy for you this week?

    • #76439
      Sarah Alfieri
      Participant

      As I was working through all of the resources for this week, I kept coming back to the critical importance of a family for a child. No matter how amazing, innovative, and loving an intervention or organization is, a caring family will always be the most ideal situation for a child to be in.

      The primary goal should be family restoration and preservation. Growing up overseas in Asia and spending many years in African countries, I have seen countless families who adore their children and want to give them the world, but give them up because they simply don’t have the support or resources to adequately provide for them. By helping families and helping them become sustainable, the children benefit in extraordinary ways.

      The call for Christians to take care of the widows, orphans, and hurting is clear and was noteworthy to me this week. It isn’t a suggestion for Christians, but a clear command for us to follow. If we want to look more like Jesus, I think it starts by loving people and fighting for them the way Christ did.

      • #76520
        Meredith Smylie
        Participant

        I love this, Sarah, and agree with you so much! Family is God’s original design and there will never be a satisfactory replacement for it. I am grateful though for interventions that try to “stand in the gap” until that family connection can be re-established or established in the first place!

    • #76443
      Dorathy Lachman
      Participant

      I think for me one thing that has stood out has been the general culture of our churches.  I’m not picking on any denomination or specific belief, but as a whole (in my experience) our churches seem to follow our culture regarding the distinction between broken and beautiful.  We tend to hide suffering in our hospitals, death in our funeral homes, the elderly in our nursing homes, etc.  There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these facilities, but rather we as a church tend to follow society’s normalization of dividing the broken and the beautiful.

      But the more I learn about the care of the vulnerable, the more I come to appreciate where the broken becomes the beautiful – and the critical role of the church in this journey.

      I had wrestled with this very topic during another chapter of my life about a completely different topic.  I find it very interesting that almost one and a half decades later it is resurfacing in another context.

      It’s another reminder to me how important it is to marvel at the love of God and to deeply value the ability for His church to be uniquely equipped to bring together brokenness and beauty.

      • #76449
        Sarah Alfieri
        Participant

        Dorathy, I loved your response and agree completely! There is so much beauty in the broken if we slow down enough to realize it. The concept of brokenness and beauty co-existing always reminds me of our good God who is full of grace, redemption, and love. The gospel is all about Jesus loving, paying attention to, and redeeming broken people- not people who had it all together. That is a great reminder that we are allowed to broken (in fact, we all already are), but that He can make something beautiful out of all of the messy, heavy, and hidden parts of our lives.

        Thank you for sharing, this was such an encouraging reminder!

      • #76514
        Christy Wiesner
        Participant

        Dorathy, I so appreciate your description of the juxtaposition in our culture of trying to separate the broken and the beautiful. I think this is an aspect where the Western world should learn from other cultures. The North African community I lived in was very family and relationally oriented. It always stood out to me how committed they were to each other in all the broken and beautiful aspects, moments, and stages of life. As Sarah pointed out, Jesus was about people. Having come back to America after extended time overseas, I see how our overly individualized culture has lost sight of this idea of community and responsibility in caring for one another as Jesus taught. As followers of Jesus, the church should be leading this transition of drawing brokenness into the light that healing and hope may be realized. Only through Jesus body of believers will individualism and community be united in a way that steps into the world’s brokenness to bring God’s healing.

    • #76446
      Katya Heyl
      Participant

      Since I have taken this course before, it’s interesting for me to see what I do and don’t remember. What resonates with me now didn’t stand out, years ago. As I was re-reading “becoming home” this quote stands out “Any other motivators like duty guilt and idealism can indeed move us. But they will not carry us the distance when the going gets tough.” This stands out to me now because I recognize when I am being “motivated” to do something out of guilt/obligation or when I don’t do something I experience guilt/shame. Sometimes, when people tell me they want to adopt I think “PLEASE DON’T.” It’s easy to see those who have a heart of love and those who want to seek validation in their action and approval of man.

      • #76515
        Christy Wiesner
        Participant

        Katya, the quote that you shared is one that stood out to me as well. I think you have an important point that motivation makes a huge difference. I often have to check my heart in my decisions, especially those involved in ministry, to evaluate if I am doing it for myself, for others, or for God. Too often I am motivated because I want to do something or I think I have to do something or I think it will help others or meet others expectations- in reality, my true motivation should be God’s honor and glory. I want my love for God to be my overall motivator; and as I love Him, He helps me to love people and make my decisions on His love, not simply what I think is best. I appreciate your reminder that testing the heart in decisions is very important!

    • #76513
      Christy Wiesner
      Participant

      What stood out to me most this week is the power of relationship. Relationships are key to whether we see ourselves as poor or rich. Why? Because we are created in the image of a relational God. In the video about “Reconsidering the Meaning of Poverty”, the speaker pointed to the four key relationships for human flourishing: God, self, others, the rest of creation. The fall impacted all these relationships; yet, God longs to bring restoration and healing to all these relationships. Just as they were in the beginning, these relationships are still at the core of human flourishing. If we truly want to reach the hurting, it needs to be through restoration or building of relationships. When we fall into the trap of defining poverty according to material things, we miss the true root of people’s needs: the poverty of the soul caused by broken and missing relationships. If we want to see people healed and thriving, it is not simply about meeting external needs. Yes, external needs are important to meet! But we should never stop there- relationships meet the deep inner needs of the individual person and allow them to walk in health and hope no matter the external circumstances. It can seem a daunting job or impossible task- and it is apart from God. The beauty is that God is able to see every vulnerable person and meet them where they are at- and each of us gets to join in that beautiful work where He invites us.

      • #76539
        Riley Habegger
        Participant

        Christy,

        I agree with you in better understanding the importance of relationships. God has granted us a relationship with Him through our Savior, which should, in turn, encourage us to develop meaningful relationships with His people. This includes vulnerable children as we are encouraged to care for them in scripture. When we work to restore relationships with vulnerable children who have experienced hurtful relationships, we are able to also help restore their understanding of a relationship with God. Relationships are at the core of caring for others in general, and so this translates to caring for vulnerable populations as well.

    • #76521
      Meredith Smylie
      Participant

      Similar to so many this week, the concept of “defining poverty” is what stood out the most to me. I never would have guessed that impoverished people would identify with their poverty of spirit more than poverty in more tangible areas. It makes complete sense, especially in light of how much the importance of connection, community, love, and family are in the Bible. I know for me, it feels maybe easier or safer somehow to just give tangibly towards meeting a need, maybe because it does not ask anything of me outright. I love though that Jesus models for us a complete generosity of self, even to the point of death, and it is this degree of love that allows true healing, belonging, and transformation to occur. It is the Gospel in motion. This idea of redefining poverty has really caused me to evaluate a lot of areas in my life and I want to sit with that for a while and let it shape all of my interactions with people, not just the ones I consider “ministry”.

      • #76540
        Dorathy Lachman
        Participant

        Meredith,

        I deeply resonated with your comment!  It does seem a lot safer and a lot faster (quicker gratification) to just meet a material need.  It reminds me of the book, When Helping Hurts (I believe it’s by the same people).  I’m not a huge book reader, but I’ve read it twice and still continue to be challenged by it.  It turned my perspective upside down.  I like how you said that you want to let the idea of redefining poverty challenge all your interactions with people – I think that it’s a great perspective that I find quite inspiring!

    • #76538
      Riley Habegger
      Participant

      What stood out to me most for this weeks content was the importance of understanding how to effectively fight poverty by prioritizing people over implementing programs to solely provide resources. Obviously I understand the value of providing resources to individuals who need assistance in meeting their essential biological needs, but I also realize the importance of promoting relationships when it comes to helping people out of poverty. In the video “Helping Without Hurting” the importance of understanding how to help people experiencing poverty and understanding how they need assistance rather than assuming how they need your help was brought to my attention. This idea relates to vulnerable children because understanding how to effectively fight poverty can promote family preservation and help fight high numbers of vulnerable children as a result of poverty. Relationships should be of the highest value when helping people because people are valuable.

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