Rarely is it a single traumatic event that shatters the life of the children we serve. Most often, it is a prolonged series of overwhelming and unpredictable experiences. These build until the wounds are deep and encompass every area of their young lives. The question was asked recently: What can ignite the spark of hope? The answer is amazingly simple, yet challenges the caregiver’s deepest resources of love and care. At the end of the day, trusting relationships heal children.

One can never discount the tremendous power of a simple word of encouragement. Those words from a trusted individual may bring a spark of hope and courage. Yet, it will be the caregiver, mentor, coach, pastor, or friend who signs on for the long haul that has the greatest chance of influencing the child’s life. The currency of hope is trust! Trust is built when caregivers provide the child with predictable patterns of consistent care, love, and encouragement.

Children often come to us from a life of chaos, disrupted environments, unpredictable behaviors, and loss. Their norm is stressful vigilance. The child is always waiting for the next disruption of their life, painfully predicting it at any moment. At these moments, caregivers at The Heart of Florida Youth Ranch step into a child’s life. Our prayer is to let them see the love of God in us. Let us be the hands and voice of the church, speaking and touching with encouragement. Let us love them until they can trust our love, and then look through us to see the ultimate giver of life and love. Our daily challenge is not to provide a word or deed of hope but to let us be part of a cascade of messages of hope in everything we say and do. These cascading messages of hope become the building blocks of trust that will allow a child to develop and become all they were created to be!