Way back in the beginning of 2015, David and I were searching for a house suitable to become the Transitional Home for the young adults leaving the ZOE Children’s Home and working toward independence. It was a new concept--untried and untested. There really didn’t seem to be any similar models around to glean ideas from or ask the hundreds of questions that were swimming through our heads.
The week before we moved into the house, some people had contacted our ZOE founders with an interest in designating some money toward university students. We were asked to meet with them and explain the new program and the model that we would be launching at the Transitional Home. It seemed kind of nerve-wracking trying to describe what this program would be like when really all we had was an empty house, a brief outline, and some goals that we hoped were achievable. But thankfully, this couple, Bart and Liz, were amazing and kind plus totally encouraging to the vision that we shared. Throughout the busyness of the past 12 months in the Transitional Home, it’s been people like Bart and Liz along with the White River Church community who have been so supportive of this new program. For these people who have continued to uphold our family, the young adults, and the program in prayer, we appreciate their “cheerleading” efforts from the sidelines.
It was our joy to have Bart visit the home in January this year and be able to finally show him how much this program helps these young people in their journey toward independent living and for him to meet some of the young people who have been directly assisted. Together we celebrated all that this program has achieved so far and how God had provided for this new adventure!
As we chatted, our attention was drawn to the large whiteboard in the room where David and I, along with our co-workers, had been brainstorming a name for the house just the day before. (Transitional Home is not that easy to translate into Thai). At ZOE, we call this place “The Nest,” as that really is what it has become.
As you may already know, ZOE is the Greek word for ‘life.’ Children at the ZOE Children’s Homes now have a new chance at life. Most importantly though, as they develop trust and security with their new family at ZOE, they are introduced to the concept of ‘eternal life’ that is offered freely through the love of Jesus Christ. When we think about ‘life,’ a picture comes to my mind. We are reminded of a big, healthy tree. Its roots are strong and deep below the earth’s surface supporting the body of the tree and feeding life up into the tree. On this big tree are many branches. The ZOE families are like the branches. They are ‘home’ for so many who need shelter and protection from the world. On one of the branches sits a NEST. This place is connected to the branch and is, in a way, a part of the tree, and yet it is a place that offers a comfortable and secure launching place whereby baby birds grow up and eventually fly away. The birds in the tree will never reach their full potential if they’re kept in the nest or perched on the branch.
At ZOE, we’re raising a generation of children to be responsible, compassionate, and independent adults who will contribute to society through meaningful work and service; and because we follow Jesus, our hope and prayer is that they too would follow Him … and then one day, they will leave the NEST and fly!
As we continue to develop this program and fine-tune the guidelines and expectations, we are realizing that the ‘nest’ is a safety net, but it’s also okay if it feels ‘a little prickly’ at times too. Although we want the young adults to feel comfortable in the home, being too comfortable can actually be a setback! As we, the leaders, learn and grow with the program, we are beginning to learn when it is necessary to keep them close and tucked under the wing, and when it is time to gently nudge them toward the edge. Please keep them in your prayers. There are so many highs and lows as well as the adjustments of leaving their ZOE families, beginning work and moving to the city.
Just a quick update: There was much excitement this month, as more young people moved into the ‘nest.’ They now have begun working over the summer break and already getting into the rhythm of working, cooking meals, and having the added freedom and responsibility that being an adult involves.
Watch this video that shows more details about The Nest. Interested in staying updated on the Transitional Program as well as other things happening at ZOE? Email us here to be included on our email list.
Published by: Andrea Cross in Thailand