By Jenn Holden, Back2Back Mexico Staff
Since I came on staff with Back2Back, I have shared that part of Back2Back’s vision is to be a voice for orphans. However, only until recently have I understood that being a voice goes further than writing blogs, fundraising, sharing their stories and defending their cause. I have learned that far beyond being their voice, we are called to seek out what has been lost and return it to them. Among the many things taken from these children is their voice. I no longer want to simply be their voice, but rather to give them every opportunity to use their voice and be heard and in turn, use my position to amplify their voice.
For some time, the voices of the children we serve were silenced…
For this reason, it’s important for us, as trusted adults, to return their voice to them, giving words to feelings, giving options so they have a say in what will happen next, asking for their words when their behavior is screaming for attention.
In every intentional interaction, I have the opportunity to remind them their voice is valuable and when they use it, I will hear them.
A simple and practical way this plays out is on the playground. Each time a sweet little one wants to get on a swing and have me push them, I ask them to use their beautiful words to ask for what they need. And each time a small voice responds with “Will you push me please?,” I emphatically reply “Yes, of course! Thank you for using those beautiful words!,” as I push them and listen to them giggle.
Sweet Vicky is three years old and her voice has been silenced by many factors. A couple months ago, the first sign of her voice was audible laughter, a beautiful sound to my ears. Yet, as beautiful as it was, I knew a three year old should have more to say.
This week, I lived a miraculous moment right there at the swingset. There were four children in a row on the swings, including Vicky. I walked back and forth down the line, responding to their voices asking nicely to be pushed. The only exception was Vicky, as I always push her gently without awaiting the sound of her voice, simply because it has never been used. But this day was different.
Out of the blue and as clear as day, I heard a little girl’s voice say, “Jenn, will you push me please?”
“Yes!,” I responded enthusiastically. “I would love to push you! Thank you for using those beautiful words.”
My face must have expressed all of the joy I felt, because she burst into a giggle, and continued to repeat that short, clear phrase for the rest of the time on the swings.
Praise Jesus! Your voice is being set free and I hear you sweet Vicky! You are valuable.
Jenn Holden is living out her God-given dream in Monterrey, Mexico serving orphan and vulnerable children with Back2Back Ministries.