• The Resilience of Children…by Rachel Shoff

    What has struck me watching the children that live at the Harvest Home currently and those that have stayed at Harvest Home since I began working as Child Advocate, is that finding that “fresh start” can be very difficult.  Children are so resilient, and even in the darkest days, kids have the ability to step away from their grief for a time to play and to be a kid.  But despite this God-given ability to retain their sense of youth, some of the kids who come to Harvest Home have deeply troubled hearts stemming from mistreatment, uncertainty, adult-like responsibility, and fear.

    In the last week, we had two children from two separate families spend time in a psychiatric unit because of dangerous behaviors or thoughts that have grown out of their pain.  If you met these two kids, not only would you not believe they could have such overwhelming feelings, but you would be charmed out of your boots by their sweetness, sincerity, and caring.

    We have had kids stay at Harvest Home that ooze with humor, kindness, joy, thoughtfulness, excitement, and intelligence.  Kids that dream of being doctors, ballerinas, builders, soldiers, stylists, and artists.  Kids that love Sponge Bob Squarepants, Frozen, Spiderman, Dora the Explorer, and Elmo.  Kids that feed and bathe their baby siblings, laugh when a moment is serious, lash out with fists when teased, cannot stand to be further than a foot from an adult, give up any task early from frustration, defy adult authority, attach themselves on sight to strangers, and cry at the drop of a hat.  Each is fully a kid, and each is very hurt.

    When I applied to work at the Haven of Rest, I knew that I wanted to work with hurting children, and I knew that I needed to work at a Christian ministry: imagine working with the broken and not being able to provide the only healing for their pain and restoration for their souls!  The Haven of Rest is all about presenting The Hope to the hopeless, and “the hopeless” doesn’t just refer to the adults.

    Sometimes when these very wounded kids come through our doors and quickly go out again, I wonder if their time at the Harvest Home made any difference to them.  Their moms may return to their old lifestyle, the next man in their life may knock them around, they may shelter hop from place to place for years, they may not get the counselling and understanding they desperately need, and those mean kids at their tough inner city schools may never let up.  But God doesn’t tell us that we can fix people – He tells us life will be hard, and my, is it ever for some of these kids – and He tells us that it is His job to heal, not ours.  Our job is to be faithful in sharing Christ, in loving His people, and meeting the needs, body, mind, and soul, of those in need.  We are blessed with the opportunity to plant seeds that, if God is willing, might one day blossom into a relationship with our Heavenly Father, who loves the children at the Harvest Home more than I ever will, and loves them more than they will ever know.

    I am blessed to witness the stories of these littlest members of God’s Kingdom.  Just as they have those tough days, the good moments are so much better because of them.  The moments like watching a 3-year-old who wraps her arms around her sobbing 2-year-old brother, telling him that everything is okay; a 7-year-old boy who tells everyone what a great Wii tennis partner his 5-year-old shelter friend is; a 10-year-old boy who zoned out in Bible Study for a month, but on review day recites back every detail he was taught; a 17-year-old girl who accepts Christ into her life.  God has blessed Harvest Home to be a place of safety and rest for the burdened, mother and child, where they can come to know True Peace.  May God continue to bless those that serve here, with their gifts of time, prayers, and treasure: you enable the Word to reach even the littlest of those in need!

    Rachel Shoff
    Child Advocate