Alongsiders focuses on vulnerable people. People who are alone. People who are in a jam. Hence our slogan 'we walk alongside those who walk alone'. This is in line with what Jesus did. Just read Luke 4. Jesus speaks there about his 'mission-statement', and it is about the poor, the blind, the brokenhearted, prisoners. We know that Jesus' love is for everyone, and yet there is a special place, special attention for those on the margins.
This is also the reason why we encourage you to look at who is on the margins in your neighbourhood. The vulnerable ones in your neighbourhood. Welcoming every child is part of our dream. Every child needs a Alongsider, and we want to start with the children who need it most. That which is already vulnerable needs protection. In the Bible, we read in a prophecy about Jesus that He 'will not break the bended reed, He will not break the dying flax'. Jesus actually puts His hands around it, protected. You see Him, as it were, straightening out the reed that is almost broken. You see Him, as it were, blowing gently at the flax straw, so that the fire ignites again. Protecting, careful, full of love.
In the same careful way, you may deal with your younger brother or sister. Protect, love, build up and encourage him or her. In order to guarantee this, we pay a lot of attention to this in the commitments you make. This relates to yourself and what you do and do not do, but it also relates to your environment, and in particular your 'group of 5'.
As an Alongsider, you make a number of commitments. In the Alongsiders training, you will find them all detailed, but it comes down to a commitment to:
- being mentally and physically healthy,
- not to use violence, but to protect,
- being transparent,
- protect against abuse, and report abuse immediately, and
- take responsibility for everything you do with your younger brother or sister and be accountable for it.
With these commitments we set the bar high. And that suits the Master we are following. In this world where there is so much brokenness, so much abuse, so much addiction, so much violence, we want to be bringers of healing, Shalom, justice and protection. Not because we are so good, but in the power of the Master - Jesus.
Besides the fact that we need Jesus to do this, we also need each other. You need your 'group of five' to stay upright, to remain standing. You hold each other responsible, you question each other, you pray for each other. Celebrate together when there is reason to do so and support each other when things are difficult. As a "group of 5" you not only have the right to question each other, you also have the "obligation" to support each other. You are a group who act together, hold each other up.
An important principle in all this is transparency. Transparency towards your group of five, towards your younger brother or sister, but also towards his or her parents and towards your congregation. For this reason you ask permission from the parents (or guardians) of your younger brother or sister. You should also ask permission from your pastor, elder, youth worker from your congregation.
It goes without saying that Alongsiders will always follow the guidelines set by the government and authorities. Alongsiders has internal guidelines and procedures for both preventive and corrective action (if necessary). But guidelines and procedures do not reflect the heart - what we want to do. We find that 'heart' in Jesus and how He acts. We want to follow Him. Child safety is top priority.