We made it! Who would have thought this time last year we would have been home this much, traveled so little, used this much hand sanitizer, and home-schooled our children? 2020 taught us the value of a slower life and the necessity of relying on God.
As we reflect on 2020, two words stand out in our minds — gratitude and togetherness. The year brought us closer — as an organization and in our relationships with donor-partners. We’ve shared more conversations and prayers. We’ve rallied together, for one another, and for vulnerable children. For this, we can honestly say, “Thanks, 2020!”
No child left behind
In the spring, the pandemic started a road into the unknown. It also highlighted the vulnerability of the children you and Exile serve together — and the vital role Exile plays in their lives. Without Exile’s staff and care programs, these youth would be on the street, in captivity, or victims of trafficking.
Exile teams responded quickly — adapting and overcoming numerous hurdles. We’re quite tenacious when it comes to the safety and care of children in our programs! Determined to provide for each child’s needs — physically, spiritually, and emotionally — we made a plan.
COVID-19 Response Plan — Protection, Prevention, & Continuity of Care.
- We provided outbreak education for all staff, beneficiaries, foster families, and the broader community.
- War-affected youth in EI’s Vocational Programs made masks for our teams and beneficiaries.
- Care programs were reorganized to decrease gathering sizes while maintaining continuity of care for each and every child!
- Our teams implemented thousands of 1-on-1 counseling visits for youth unable to participate in group gatherings.
- Teachers were hired to keep children’s education on track. You can’t beat classes under a tree while wearing a mask!
- Our teams found new placements with trained, Christian foster families for many children due to gathering limitations and school closures. Because most families cannot absorb this cost, Exile’s teams are distributing food and supplies.
God is moving the mission forward faster than we ever expected!
Exile is serving 60% more children in 2020, with over 1,900 child survivors of war receiving the care they need to heal, overcome, and even thrive. Much of this growth is happening because program graduates — now trained and capable leaders — are replicating the care programs that transformed their lives. They are bringing hope to other war-affected youth in their communities!
Program graduates helped launch 17 rehabilitative care programs and are serving 700 rescued child soldiers and children orphaned by war in some of the most dangerous and volatile parts of Congo.
Learning what it means to have enduring hope.
2020 is coming to a close with countless reasons to rejoice… yet there has also been mourning. The realities of serving in regions afflicted by war and conflict and the evils that exist there have hit close to home.
This year the number of kidnappings and child abductions rapidly spiked in eastern Congo — which now ranks among the world’s worst for these atrocities. Now this evil has directly touched Exile’s team and family. We’re unable to share details here, but we ask that you pray. Pray for God to intervene — that captives would be set free, that hard hearts would be changed, and that healing would come for the brokenhearted.
To those of you who have already been praying and sending messages — your support has meant the world to us and most especially to the family. On their behalf — we thank you. Please continue praying specifically for Exile staff and beneficiaries for whom these dangers are a daily reality. They need our daily prayers for protection, strength, and hope.
Evil has shown its ugly colors around Exile’s care programs and teammates in recent years. Exile’s family has overcome gunshot wounds, attacks, sexual violation… and now kidnapping. Our teammates have experienced fear, tragedy, and trauma.
We have wrestled with what it means to have hope and to choose hope. What it means to trust. What it means to pray without ceasing.
We’ll never fully understand the “whys.” Yet we do know this — evil exists, regardless of the fact that God is good. Evil exists because man chooses to stop looking to Him as their pathway to peace.
With you — our brothers and sisters, our family — we can and will choose hope. We continue to fight darkness with light. We continue to combat evil with worship and call down the glory of the Lord onto the earth. Standing in the face of darkness, we choose to look to the light.
A God-sized vision
To us, Exile has always been God’s, and He so kindly invited us (and you) to join Him. 12-years ago, we would not have guessed where this road — with all its twists and bumps — would take us… yet we were willing and excited to go along for the ride!
We’re grateful as we look back, and we’re hopeful about what is to come. And what’s next is continued progress towards Exile’s 2040 goal — to provide healing and hope to 100,000 rescued child soldiers and children orphaned by war. Empowering child survivors to become leaders, transform their communities, and end cycles of poverty and violence in their communities.
Coming full circle — from survivors to leaders for peace
Reaching the 2040 goal is possible because program graduates — once young survivors themselves — are successfully replicating the care programs that restored their lives. With God’s help and through these young leaders — healing and hope are spreading at exponential rates in previously unreachable communities!
When our greatest heartaches become our greatest ministry — grace comes full circle. These young men and women are living, breathing examples of that! Jesus is rewriting the next chapters of their lives, saturating them with redemption, love, and peace.
Would you join us in believing and choosing hope?
Please join us in praying for healing for child survivors of war and protection for Exile’s staff.
Join us in a movement of radical redemption and hope. We need everyone joining in this fight for the enslaved and the orphaned. Together we can do more!
There’s still much work to be done. If you’re able, would you consider making a year-end gift? *Only $170,000 away from the year-end goal.
Your partnership makes each child’s healing and hope possible!
Wishing you and your family a wonderful New Year.
We are grateful for you,
Bethany & Matthew Williams
Founders of Exile International