Showing Kindness to Kids.
Casey McLoughlin shares stories from her time at the Mariam Home as a missionary assistant in Brazil.
With her dad as a pastor and her mom as a daycare provider, Casey MacLoughlin has grown up surrounded by children’s ministry. After working with Child Evangelism Fellowship during her summers in high school, Casey searched for a vocation that would include connecting with kids. Her first thought was teaching. When finishing at FLBC, Casey started perusing a degree in History. “I tried that for a year,” Casey shared, “but I didn’t go back. I decided instead to do this missionary assistant program in Brazil.” Casey applied through AFLC Journey Missions and was accepted as a missionary assistant to help Jonni Sliver in the Mariam Home. “Between Brazil and my job back here at a day-care, children and bringing the gospel to them, that’s what is on my heart,” Casey stated.
On Thursdays, they also had set aside time to take classes from Jonni about culture in Brazil. Jonni’s wisdom and encouragement were impactful for Casey: “She [Jonni] taught us cultural differences and how to deal with them. But she also would just check up on us, asking how we were doing at the Mariam Home and praying with us.” After school was over every day, Casey and Leah had the opportunity to invest in the kids with games outside and puzzles or crafts inside. Supper and evening chores were followed by hugs goodbye for the night.
When struggling with the language barrier, Casey sought the peace of God: “There were times when I felt, ‘Oh Lord I need to understand.’ Or ‘I need to learn quicker’ but instead He gave me something that I needed in that moment, whether it was a minute alone or a word of encouragement.” While in Brazil, Casey was also personally impacted by the importance of prayer:
“Jonni really encouraged us, when we were free in the mornings while most of the kids were gone, to pray over each room the kids were staying in… I don’t think I realized how little I prayed until I went to Brazil, that I needed to pray all the time. Sometimes it was all the time, for a lot longer periods of time than I had before. Other times when you feel helpless and the only thing you can do is pray, learning to trust God who hears completely.”
One phrase from the Psalms that Casey had on her mind throughout her trip was Psalm was “His Love endures forever.” She shared, “It is so important to remember the character of God, that He is good, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed.” Casey also witnessed the love of God through the Christians in Brazil. In their hospitality and kindness, she was moved by their love for others, particularly the children at the Mariam Home. Although Casey was not fluent in Portuguese, she displayed the love of Jesus to the kids in the Mariam Home. She was encouraged to see the evidence of God’s work in their lives. Casey told a story of a little boy of eight at the Mariam Home who could not read:
“He would have one of the house moms read to him from the Bible that they gave him every night. I think from watching him you could see God was working in his heart. He wanted to know the Bible.”
Casey’s experience in Brazil is a great reminder. When you can’t share in words, you can always share kindness. The love of Christ compels us to show compassion to others and we need to trust His grace and pray for His strength to put it into practice.