One of my heroes and long term colleague Leah (Lewis) Daly has been a leader for children and youth here in Constanta for many years. I asked her to write a blog post for missioninnovation.info and I hope you enjoy it and even more, let`s get our focus on the generations. To be true, the difference between adults and children are not so big as we sometimes wish. If you can lead children, the same principles are applicable in every leadership. Leah has been working with us for more than a decade, and more passionate and committed person you need to look long for. She is an excellent teacher and if you or your ministry need input she will be the one! Thanks Leah for all your great work, and for being an amazing co- worker and friend!
Advice for working with Children at Risk
When Rune challenged me to write something about working with children for this blog I honestly felt at a loss. I can’t say that I have any real “success” stories from my 10+ years of working with children at risk and I have yet to see many of my ministry dreams come true, so I don’t feel very confident in giving advice to others about working with kids. In fact, many times I feel so inadequate in working with the children in our programs that I am constantly looking for training, resources, and mentors to fully equip me, always feel that I am “not there yet”. But regardless of my insecurities, unfulfilled dreams, and unmet expectations in ministering to children at risk, I still have something to say and that has mostly to do with the heart.
When I was growing up my family had many challenges. My parents had their own business, which had them working long hours, weekends and even on “family vacations.” Being a strong willed first born, I had an extreme sense of right and wrong, which got me into many arguments with my father about how our family functioned. I felt scared, powerless and misunderstood much of the time, and as I grew older, wanted more than anything to escape my home and the pain that I felt there. Of course my parents loved me and supported me, doing their best to provide for me and my younger brother, but as the situation was, I was a child at risk- vulnerable, insecure, looking for guidance and help to get through the situation I was in. I had friends and church but no one really knew my struggles or what could be done to help- until my cousin moved to town.
My cousin was 10 years older than me and had moved across the country to get married to a great man who actually worked for my parents. She ended up living just up the hill from us and because of her I think my whole world changed. She didn’t do anything huge- she didn’t have some big ministry that she ran to reach me as a “child at risk”- but she loved me, made time for me, listened to my struggles, encouraged me, and made me feel valuable. She gave me some of her confidence and this gave me hope that my life could be different. She didn’t even know it, but she was changing my life.
Okay, so the connection between my life and the kids I work with from poor families here in Romania might not be so clear. My needs as a kid growing up in a middle class family in America are vastly different than the needs of the children here. But what all children at risk need, from every social class, culture and background, is someone who will believe in them- someone to make time and lend them their confidence that their life too can be different. And that is why I do what I do today.
The best advice I can give to those working with children at risk is this- to be there, to support them and believe in them, lending them your confidence that they too can have a different life
As God’s people, we have been blessed to be a blessing. Whatever we have received from the Lord, I believe that he wants us to use that to turn around and share it with others. To be fair, it wasn’t only my cousin that invested in my life, it was my family, grandparents, babysitters, teachers, youth group leaders, friends and their parents. But what my cousin highlighted to me was the powerful impact one person can make by simply giving their time and attention to another. What has God given you that you can share with others? Are there children, teens or young people around you who you see struggling and could be blessed by spending time with you? Is your heart to only look after your own life or can you see past your own needs to the needs of others around you?
The best advice I can give to those working with children at risk is this- to be there, to support them and believe in them, lending them your confidence that they too can have a different life. It doesn’t take a highly trained professional, or a world-class ministry- it just takes you; your time, your heart, and a willingness to invest in the life of a child in need. You never know how you will change their life in the process or how many lives they will change in return.
Andrew & Leah Daly
Leah and Andrew Daly met and married here in Romania while serving with YWAM Constanta children’s ministries. Leah moved to Constanta from a little town in Oregon, USA back in 2005 and Andrew came here to do his DTS from England in 2011. In 2013 they married and in 2014 a little boy named Nathaniel was born to them. Andrew currently serves the base by coordinating our worship times and taking care of the base finances and I.T. support. Leah spends her time caring for Nathaniel and together with Andrew they serve in different ministries to children and youth. They enjoy spending time with friends, making a difference in children’s lives and eating ice cream!