By Andrea Cross
You’ve probably heard it said that “hurt people hurt people,” tending to inflict their hurt and pain on others around them. Past hurts can cause people to become defensive and self-protective; hurting others can become a vicious cycle.
At ZOE, we believe that God can help break that cycle. He offers His healing and hope. In fact, sometimes healing does not occur in the way we’d expect, in the counseling room or in the ‘programs.’ Many times, we see that healing begins in the most unlikely places.
Every week, the teachers at ZOE Learning Center in Thailand take students off campus to do charity work with the aim of training them to think outside of their pain and commit to helping others. Usually they go somewhere local but recently they took the students to a neighborhood farther away. Their mission, on this particular day, was to help a disabled man who, through his struggles, is trying to care for his teenage son.
The students cleaned his house, played music, and prayed for him.
Upon their return to ZOE, they were all so happy that they’d been able to help. They excitedly began planning for the next trip. As the ZOE teachers intentionally look for ways to teach the students to focus on others, they planned the following week to go and help an elderly lady in a different village.
One girl, who later could not stop thinking about the man they’d helped, bought something with her own money and asked her teacher to give it to the man to bless him.
People in pain and crisis often find themselves the focus of others’ attention. They can get used to people asking how they’re doing and whether they need anything. Our ZOE parents are so great at loving, hugging, and caring for children in pain and meeting them where they’re at. But somewhere, in the midst of self-focus, it’s also healthy to be able to steer them towards helping others in need because sometimes it is in the ‘helping’ that the ‘healing’ can occur.
One of the teachers shared that, “The opportunity to serve others actually helps all of us.” At ZOE, we recognize that “hurt people can hurt people” but we also see how sharing in other people’s pain can help some begin to heal. Relief from pain starts to come as they help others who are also struggling, enabling them bit by bit to let go of some of their hurts and begin their healing process.