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This may seem like a bold statement, but the evidence shows there is healing taking place in our refugee schools. These “healings” may not be obvious, like physical healings, but they are just as important to the children’s learning and to the future influence they may have in their home countries.
Among refugee children, emotional and spiritual healing are the greatest needs. Meeting these needs has a major impact on their ability to learn and cope with life’s challenges after living through the loss of their entire way of life: family members, friends, schools, and homelands.
Sharon Saline, a clinical psychologist with expertise in trauma-related impact on adolescent mental health, explains, in an October, 2018 Education Today article:
“Relying more on the quick fight-or-flight reactions means that it’s easier for these kids to jump to anxiety and agitation. It can also be harder for them to form lasting friendships, to know how to soothe themselves when upset, and to process their feelings appropriately. Often, they mature more slowly, hanging out with younger kids and preferring comfortable social situations.”
The ripple effect of trauma destroys children’s natural trust for adults, and therefore, makes bonding with teachers and other authority figures that much more difficult.
Emotional and spiritual healing are in many ways one and the same; both impact a child’s ability to develop faith in anything, or anyone. God may seem cruel, absent, or uncaring to many children who have seen the horrors of war and religious persecution.
While most children in tent schools are from Muslim families, they find healing in their compassionate, understanding teacher representing the hands, feet and heart of Jesus. Building trust is the first step toward learning again, and then taking more steps toward trusting in God, adults, making new friends and seeing through eyes of hope.
Here is what one tent school teacher in Lebanon, Nivine Choaib, observes:
“The most rewarding part [of my job] is when I see my students’ progress educationally, and see them change for good. Spiritually, this gives me a lot of encouragement when I see them memorizing verses and singing for the Lord. That gives me more energy to press forward.”
We believe in a God that “heals all our diseases.” We want to continue to demonstrate this healing among the refugee and displaced children and their families wherever God calls us, and to those most in need of the Good News, the healing balm of God’s grace.
As we close this season of giving and the calendar year, we invite you to join in the healing taking place in the hearts, minds and souls of refugee children so that God may be glorified!
Thank you, and may God heal your every hurt during this wonderful season. Merry Christmas!
Dale Dieleman, Executive Director