A few years ago we became pals with a group of kiddos who lived in an orphanage right behind our house. We had some fabulous water fights, ping-pong matches, soccer, movie nights, cook-outs… total madness. They would even ask us to take them to our [Evangelical] church on Sundays , mostly because they didn’t want to stay bored at home; and because at church they could drink all the coffee they wanted, with lots of sugar!
At church, there were some families who embraced them and others who didn’t. Of the first ones, some made promises to them that never came true. Of the ones who rejected them, some even decided to leave church so that their own children wouldn’t be in the same youth group with “those kids”.
I scratched my head, because in the Bible God asks us dozens of times to care for the orphans and the widows and the foreigners. He says that THAT is the true religion.
Then I talked to the neighborhood priest, and asked if he could invite these kids to his church on Sundays, since some of them were not authorized to come to my [Evangelical] church. The priest scolded me for having dared invited them to my church without asking if they had been baptized in the [Catholic] church. He later apologized, but never invited the kids.
I kept scratching my head.
As they grew, they also grew on us, to the point we felt them as family: like cousins. And when the two first ones came close to 18, we found out about the shock that awaited them: the protection system exits them, which means that they are sent away to live life as adults, but without the basic skills to survive as such.
Stubborn as we are, we decided that this time the church had to do something. And ever since, Viva Youth has been dedicated to empowering local churches to become agents of social and spiritual transformation—with a big focus on the lives of these youths. They have tons of potential, but are very limited due to the lack of support networks and the disregard of their rights. Sometimes just one healthy connection does the trick of jumpstarting their future.
Together, we can restore ties, weave hope!