The children in Guogou Church’s nearby communities were admitted to the Church’s after-school tutoring program by a selection process because of the limited resources. The selection criteria include (1) single parent, (2) foreign spouse, (3) family heads by grand-parents and (4) low-income. Some of the children had bad behaviors and/or deviate value systems. The families of the admitted children may have other needs and problems that were unknown by the people outside. As the community church, we feel a burden to get to know these families better so that we can help them to overcome their problems.
Guogou Church and RCDA coworkers regularly visit the needy families when they deliver the food from the 1919 food bank or Andrew Charity, and when the family members were sick or had family problems.
This YouTube video clip described the 1919 food bank program:
The coworkers recorded the visits but have difficulties to make follow-up visits due to the lack of staff and resources. Guogou Church and RCDA are continuing the family visits program to care and support these families in the community. In addition, RCDA wants to go one step further to include certain types of “counseling” program.
“Lay Counselor” Training
I had the opportunity to share with the coworkers of my training and experience in Christian Counseling that I learned from Saddleback Church and from the practices in Taiwan jail ministry. It is desirable for the coworkers to learn more skills in counseling but I think we need to just learn enough to become a “Lay Counselor.” The training is not to go so far to become a professional counselor, but to have enough knowledge and skills to help people dealing with their daily problems. The book “How to be A People Helper” by Dr. Gary R. Collins was chosen for this purpose. This book is much shorter in comparison to Dr. Collins’ another book “Christian Counseling” which covers extensively on many areas and is an excellent reference book for the Christian Counselors. In addition, Guogou Church had in their library “The Minirth Guide for Christian Counselors” by Frank Minirth . I read the book, shared my study notes with them and encouraged them to read it thoroughly. This book has many resources and references besides the main text and can be used as a guide for their counseling program.
As a first step for me to understand the scope of the problems, they had described to me the basic facts of these cases (families). There are 15 families receiving assistance from 1919 food bank, and 23 families receiving assistance from Andrew Charity. These families fit at least one or more of the 4 criteria described in the beginning section of this article. We constructed an Excel database sheet to list the problems of each family including not only the 4 criteria but also the other disadvantages such as:
- Number of children in the family
- Prolonged sickness
- Mental illness
- Drug abuses
- Domestic violence
- Child abuse
- Street gang
This Excel database will serve as a screening tool to direct our care/support program. It will be included in the program records and will be used for statistical analysis.
Outreach to the Community
Guogou Church and RCDA tried to extend their outreach to other families in the community besides the families of these admitted children. In the process, they found many families need care/support not only in material matters but also in spiritual matters. Therefore, the care and support we provide in the future must include not only the food-bank and physical health but also the mental and spiritual health through counseling, coaching, crisis intervention, mentoring, pastoral care, spiritual direction, trauma treatment and programs focused on marriage and family life.
But with little available resources, Guogou coworkers feel the scope of the need is beyond their current capacity. They urged me to come to stay in the community for longer periods, e.g. six months or more each time. With longer stays in the community, I will be able to involve in their program more extensively. At this time, I can only promise to keep this in my prayers because this is a major commitment not only for me but also for my family. However, I will keep in contact with Guogou Church to offer suggestions and resources. Furthermore, I hope to get more people to understand the needs at Guogou Community and come to help.