Bob Goff, author of Love Does, likes to say, "No one really gets discipled, they get loved; we learn what we see, not what we only hear about."
That's why we're reluctant to reduce the Alongsiders relationship to a study program or a curriculum. Truly it is love. And this love inevitably bears spiritual fruit. For if we experience another person loving us, then we are better able to understand that there is a God who loves us too.
‘My Alongsider showed me so much love when she comforted me when my parents were angry with me’. - Little Sister, Takeo Province
Recently, we asked our little brothers and sisters a few questions about their faith, and we asked questions of a control group as well. All up - we interviewed over 330 young people.
The study results show that something encouraging is stirring within the hearts of hundreds of little brothers and sisters across Cambodia. There is not only emotional, social and educational impact. There is spiritual growth too:
So how does it work? How does spiritual transformation begin?
Alongsider mentors are especially motivated to reach out to children who are neglected, orphaned and struggling. Such children typically experience feelings of hopelessness, abandonment and rejection.
As a relationship with their mentor develops, they are welcomed into the church family. In fact, 94% of our little brothers and sisters freely choose to become part of the local church. Through that loving community they gain a crucial support network and sense of belonging.
They learn that God loves them. And they begin to experience spiritual transformation.
Jesus taught us to welcome children into our midst. And he showed us the way to disciple and mentor others - by spending lots of time together, walking, talking and eating together. His methods of discipleship were not merely dry academic study. Instead, Jesus shared life with his disciples. They laughed, cried and ministered together.
Through the example of their Alongsider mentors, hundreds of children are experiencing that radical welcome and responding with joy. They understand that they are cared for and loved by God, both day-to-day and forever. They know that they are not alone. Because someone walks alongside them, Jesus-style.
[Research results mentioned above come from the Alongsiders Impact Assessment 2013. ]