Updated: Jul 25
Since our first Mother’s Day outreach in 2019, this activity has become one of the highest impact events we do with the children’s parents.
Family strengthening is one of the three core pillars of Cadanino. Empowering committed mothers as they care for their children goes a long way in determining better outcomes for children.
Due to various reasons, many of our kids come from broken families. The father is often not present, so it falls upon the mother to be the provider and caretaker for her children. A monumental task in the best situations and an often overwhelming one for families living in poverty.
While our family strengthening program covers many things, including nutritional assistance, emergency crisis care packages, and home visitations, we have realized that what so many mothers need to be encouraged, validated, and appreciated.
The last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic and all the challenges it brought mean that now more than ever, these mothers need help.
Our team worked to pull together events at both community impact centers, and the impact was incredible.
The mothers showed up early for the event. Though they live in humble homes, many of them dressed up for the occasion and put on what was probably their nicest clothes.
After a time of worship and prayer, we shared a message on Shunem’s wife from 2 Kings 4.
It is a story of a woman who builds a room for the prophet Elijah so he could have a place to rest when he comes to her town. She does this out of respect for him, expecting nothing in return. The prophet asks the servant what he can do to repay her, and they realize that she does not have a child.
The prophet tells her that she will have a son. She is incredulous and responds, “No, my lord, man of God, do not make fun of your servant.”
She does not lack faith but is probably simply exhausted at the desire of wanting a son, not having one, and has given up hope.
A year later, she has a son, but the son becomes sick and dies. She confronts the prophet and says, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Didn’t I tell you not to make fun of me?”
She is in pure pain. A deep, heartbreaking kind of pain that so many of those we serve have experienced.
It is as if she is saying, “God, don’t even give me hope because I’m only going to suffer. I’d rather live without hope than suffer disappointment.”
This was something to which many of the mothers in the room could relate. We have walked along so many of them as they have faced challenge after challenge. Sickness, loss of loved ones, and more.
They may have reached the point where they no longer even have the will to pray for what they want and need.
They no longer ask for it because they don’t want to experience the disappointment of not getting it or the pain of losing it.
But no story written by God ends in disappointment. Not the stories in the Bible and not our personal stories either.
Elijah returns with her and goes to the dead child, leans on him, and gets up to pray seven times, and miraculously the boy wakes up. He then calls the mother, and when she comes in, he says, “pick up your son.”
“And as she went in, she fell at her feet, and bowed to the ground; and afterward she took her son, and went out.”
The reaction of the mothers was intense. More than one cried. Many hugged each other, and you could see that they understood.
They could relate to the Shunammite woman at the beginning and how she had given up on what she wanted to ask God for. They could relate to her in her time of grief and frustration in trying to understand why God would give her something and then take it away.
But what is most important is that they saw from this story that things work out in the end. When we are faced with a crisis, we may feel like we are at the end of our journey and that our story is over. Still, God knows better, and our story doesn’t end until he says it does, and He always ALWAYS brings about good in the end.
Though we haven’t walked the walk of each person we serve and can’t fully understand the pain they have felt, we have a God who does. A God who loves and cares for them. A God who directs their lives. A God who is good and just. A God who will never forget what we have done for others, especially if it has been done in His name and out of love. A God who was with the Shunamite women just as He is with every woman we serve. A God who has not forgotten them.
We closed the message by thanking the mothers for the job they were doing. We thanked them for loving their children, caring for them, and giving them everything they had so that they might succeed.
You could see from their reaction that they understood the message, that they could relate to it, and how much it meant that someone, anyone, appreciated the work they did and the sacrifices they have made for their children.
We then had an activity where we gave each mother a tote bag, and they spent time painting it together with their children. It was beautiful to see them working together to create beautiful works of art.
In closing, each mother received gifts their children had made for them, including cards, plants in a decorated vase, and tortilla holding cloths embroidered by their kids. Everyone received a gift box with snacks, muffins, fruit, cookies, chocolates, and lunch. They then had their picture taken at a portrait gallery.
It was a simple event. A morning in the busy life of the mothers we serve. Yet sometimes, that is all it takes, a little encouragement, a little kindness, a few moments of being thanked and appreciated for the seemingly never-ending task of being a parent. Being reminded that you matter, both to others and to God, can be the inspiration to keep moving forward when life is hard.
You can never show people too much appreciation!
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers”
1 Thessalonians 1:2