“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:9–11).
Having recently been on a trip to Colombia to review Word & Deed projects there, it was good to see demonstrations of the Family Mission Program in action. This is a social development program designed to protect families with children in the Conviventia school system from abuse, family strife, or unhealthy situations in the home. Once a situation is detected, it is investigated to determine the level of intervention needed.
The Family Mission Program in Colombia is run by Word & Deed’s partner, Conviventia. This program deals with families in crisis and uses family meetings to share the Word of God, bring practical exercises for the members to work on, developing daily programs for them to follow and encouraging them to pray together. A psychologist, a social worker, and a Chaplin are involved in each visit.
In Cartagena, we went along on a visit to a family that is going through a grieving process after losing a great-grandmother and a young mother. Both of these women passed away a few months ago leaving behind a grieving great-grandfather, two parents without a daughter, and a young daughter without a mother. Together, they make a family of four across four generations. The child has become distant and closed off and so has the mother who lost her daughter and her mother.
On this particular day, the exercise involved recalling the joyful memories of the past that involve a tree. Each of us gave a good memory that we had under a tree. For some it was playing, peeling carrots, working on or growing up around trees. Then we posted a tree onto the wooden wall with thumb tacks which followed by drawing fruits to place on the tree. The fruits were the positive symbols that reminded those grieving of the one they had lost. My story emphasized how Christ is the tap root that grows deepest and feeds the entire tree. This root keeps us secure and solid when times of trouble or drought come. Near the end of the visit, the family was given a poster and clear bags for their small home-based business. The family had been visited multiple times and were making progress but were still hurting. It was good to see the couple that night at the couples’ workshop held at El Pozon school.
In Bogota, we visited a family who had just entered the Family Mission Program. The older daughter had been abused when she was younger and is now having relationship issues. Her 29-year-old mother lives with a different, older man than her father. The mother and three children participated in the session. The activity was to portray how communication can break down so quickly between family members. Each had to draw on the other person’s back and pass on that message to the next person. What started as a picture of a house ended up being a smiling face. Chaplain Freddy reflected on the lessons learned and opened the Bible to read from Proverbs. The family planted seeds in a 2-litre pop bottle cut in half and filled with dirt. As the seeds sprout and grow, this will represent the family’s growth over subsequent sessions. It was a good opening session to begin with to have the family on the same page.
This is a unique program in which the Word of God is brought to at-risk families who are in dire straits. May God continue to bless the work of Conviventia and the Family Mission Program.
Corney Les is the chairman of Word & Deed Canada Board and attends the Heritage Reformed Church in Chilliwack, BC.