I have told you her story before, but I come back to her today to ask a really hard question. Prostituted by her mother at age nine, Natalie herself became a mother by the time she turned 11. I remember seeing her stand before the graduate church, confidently telling her story. It was hard to believe that Natalie was the same scared, horribly abused child the juvenile authorities had brought to Hope seven years earlier. In a very real sense, she wasn’t the same; she was transformed during her time at Hope.
A few minutes later when she introduced her young daughter to the church, you could not help but think how different life would be for the little girl. Natalie’s transformation was not only hers but, as our mission statement says, it belongs to her future generations as well.
Hope is not, and never has been, a “bowl of rice in a warehouse” kind of rescue organization. From day one, Hope has consistently focused on providing transformational care for the children placed in our trust. That means comprehensive programs: living as family, solid academics, marketable trades, and most important, that transformation that miraculously occurs when a heart is made new.
So, to my question: Should we invest in rescue, or do we invest in transformation? When we see any child in need, we want to grab them; save them immediately. (One of Hope’s board members says that we should never have any money in the bank, because we should always spend everything we have as long as there are kids in need.) But what does saving them mean? Is it a bowl of rice or beans and some clean water? We can do that cheaply, for pennies a day. Or should we spend that sum of money over and over again to provide really transformational care—a family, academic and vocational training, the foundation for a meaningful future?
I know where I come down on this question. Breaking the cycle, while much more expensive and focused—at least initially—on many fewer children, ultimately means that many more lives are saved. And this means doing more than just combating hunger.
It is a tough call, and by no means will I stand in judgment of anyone acting to save kids. But I do think this is a conversation that needs to be had.