let justice roll like a river

Week 11: Attachment Disorder // Refugees & Immigrants

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.  I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”  Statue of Liberty

I’ve introduced the beautifully lovely Lenneke before, but I am delighted to do it again!  Lenneke is currently a social worker with the Women’s and Children’s Advocacy Centre, but before her involvement in YWAM she worked in a Children’s Home in The Netherlands.  This week she taught us on Attachment Disorder, with which she has much experience because of her previous job.

Attachment is one of the most fascinating things I’ve been learning about during this school, and it teaches us so much about God’s heart for us as His children.  It is absolutely essential for a baby to develop a bond of trust with it’s primary caregiver, and if one doesn’t develop this “attachment” as a baby they are much more likely to have relational problems throughout their life.  This is called Attachment Disorder, of which there are many levels of severity.  One such severe case that we looked at is the story of Beth Thomas, a girl who was severely abused and neglected as a baby and developed an extreme case of Attachment Disorder, which fully manifested after she was adopted as a one and a half year old infant.  Her adoptive family was everything a family should be, yet because of the abuse she had suffered as a baby Beth had no ability to care about anyone else.  This was made clear when she tried to kill her little brother, and talked about killing her adoptive parents.  I would so encourage you to watch this 30 minute documentary, called “Child of Rage.”  ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME2wmFunCjU )

Fortunately Beth was able to receive intensive therapy and was eventually able to live in harmony within a family, which brings so much hope of how attachment disorder can be reversed.  However it was not a simple process of healing for Beth, and many people who have attachment disorders never receive the kind of help that she did.  This has caused me to wonder, “How many people in our prisons have done the things they’ve done because of attachment issues?  What about people who’ve murdered?  Is that because they truly have no ability to understand their actions?  What if our prisons helped people become restored to who they really are underneath their behavior?”  One of the week’s most surprising statistics is that 30% of Americans have some level of Attachment Disorder.

The surprising statistics didn’t end with Attachment, however.  We also had another teaching this week: Refugees & Immigrants.  Phil Gazley is British, but has lived in the States for the past 10 years, working with refugees and training other people to do the same.  Phil took time out of his very busy schedule to be with us for a few days this week, and he brought with him much passion for both Jesus and social justice to share with us.  So.  Refugees.  What comes to mind for you?  A few days ago what came to my mind were images of mud-covered people, small children in their arms, trekking through jungle with few of their possessions in hand, fleeing from their home in search of a safer place.  Certainly this is a reality in our world, as there are currently 12 million people living in refugee camps, but it’s not the only reality in terms of refugees.  There are also millions of refugees that have been re-settled in the United States AND there is the highest  number of refugees in America living in MINNESOTA!  Whaaa?!  I didn’t know this!

In both his teachings on Refugees and Immigrants Phil brought up the common attitude among Americans that new people in our country somehow pose a threat to us.  But should we be threatened?  Or should we be thrilled?  Especially as Christians, we should be ecstatic about welcoming people into our country.  God is literally bringing the Nations to us. Refugees come out of very traumatic circumstances, and to be able to welcome them into their new country, to walk with them as they figure out their crazy new life, to be their friend as they heal from horrific events, should be seen as a blessing to us.  We know the truth of God, the reality of His love, and how beautiful it is to know Him, and here we have an opportunity to share the gospel with the Nations, right here in our own country.  Not just the gospel of salvation, but the whole complete gospel, of a God who desperately loves his children, who hears their cries, and wants them to have life to the full.

Phil presented us with so many ways in which we can become involved in reaching out to refugees who are re-settling in the States, and it is so exciting to me to know that returning to the U.S. does not need to mean an end to working with people of other cultures.  If any of you are interested in finding out more about working with re-settled refugees you can find out more here:  http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/partners/state_coordina.htm

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