The Alongsider movement desires to see vulnerable children restored and transformed socially, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually so that they can live as whole human beings. This transformation and restoration will affect relationships within families and the place where they live, as well as the systems and structures around those relationships. Any discipleship movement that deals with restoration must pay attention to conflicts between parents or neighbours, the inability of a child to attend school or receive adequate nutrition, a virus that affects the population or the exploitation of employees within a company.
Although spiritual transformation is part of life as a whole person, it is not always the place to start. Sometimes Alongsiders ask if it is better to choose another brother or sister if their current brother does not want to pray or go to church. Yet it is important for Alongsiders to know the love of Jesus by practising it patiently, so that little brothers and sisters can experience that love freely, without judgment or expectation.
An Alongsider from Cambodia told us that the first year he was happy to see his little brother washing his hands before eating. His little brother comes from a poor Buddhist family. They live in difficult circumstances and the parents are often in conflict. It may seem a very small step that the boy started washing his hands, but his Alongsider recognised that it mattered. And, tellingly, right after talking about the boy's hygiene, the Alongsider mentioned his growth in faith. He obviously treated his little brother in a holistic way, perhaps because he grew up and came to faith in the same economically poor community.
Another Alongsider shares about an 11-year-old girl, Piya, who could not go to school because she had to stay at home to take care of her younger siblings. Her mother is a farmer and if she did not go to the fields every day and work, she could not feed the children and keep the family together. Piyas Alongsider talked to her mother and they came up with a solution so that Piya could attend classes. But then they encountered another challenge: Piya did not want to go to school because she was ashamed. The other girls could see that she was very poor and that her school uniform was dirty and old, so they treated her badly. Eventually, Piya kept going to school because her Alongsider consistently encouraged her. Part of that encouragement included helping her to wash and feel clean. Piyas Alongsider also talks to her about faith and prays for her. On Sundays, they often go to the local church together. Their relationship is an example of holistic love and discipleship in action.