Open Doors brings hope and healing

When religious conflict flared in Maluku, Indonesia from 1999 to 2002, thousands of Christians were slaughtered by Muslims, and multiplied thousands of children were left parentless and alone. Many of these orphans were severely traumatized after seeing their parents murdered, often brutally.

Varinia Lewerissa, a Christian in Maluku, heard stories of children who had witnessed their parents’ gruesome deaths, and decided to start a counseling Life to help them deal with their emotional scars.

“I soon learned, however, that monthly counseling sessions were inadequate to help them recover,” said Varinia.

In 2003, two years after starting her counseling Life, Varinia was able to start an orphanage called Caleb House. Since then, more than 40 children have enjoyed the full-time care, schooling, spiritual nourishment and life-skills training that Varinia and her staff provide.

Lasting wounds
Most of the children at Caleb House lost their parents almost a decade ago, but they still bear the emotional scars left by seeing their parents killed. One of seven siblings, James, now 18, was only 9 years old when his parents were murdered.

When Open Doors recently interviewed him, James paused at length before he answered each question he was asked about the death of his parents. It was as if he needed to gather the strength and courage to revisit those painful memories.   

“After the funeral, I had a dream where my parents came back to life and visited me,” James said, staring at the floor. “In my dream, I was shocked and scared, because I knew they had passed away. In reality, I missed them and their love so much.”

Besides dealing with the grief and trauma associated with losing their parents so violently, Caleb House children like James have also had to deal with other issues that most orphans face, including anxiety and despair.

Counting God’s blessings
The children at Caleb House are encouraged to grow in the Lord through morning and evening worship services and through daily Bible reading and prayer. And while many of them have not completely recovered emotionally, the children are encouraged to always give thanks to God and to care for the needs of others.

Thanks to those who support Open Doors, the organization was recently able to help the children at Caleb House by providing a set of sewing machines, carpentry tools and agricultural training.
They were also able to provide Varinia with post-traumatic counseling training, where she found new skills and knowledge to help orphans like James recover from their emotional wounds.

“I put the method into practice right after the training, and amazingly, some of the children started to open up and tell personal secrets I had never heard of before,” Varinia said. “Thank you, Open Doors!”

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