Being “live-in” staff comes with many facets. I know for myself and family we were
somewhat prepared for this part of our journey through our past experience in a
smaller program. We had no expectations and after living with the Next Step for Life
residents over the past year and a half, we have not been disappointed. As part of
the management team, there have been some very challenging bridges to cross with
the residents. God and His infallible Word has and always will be our “go to” for
guidance in all things relative to our ladies. He has been more than faithful to lead us
as we have been allowed to lead these very special ladies.
Through counsel, wisdom and prayer, it was determined we should lift the “age cap”
and begin to take in women of any age. God has shown up, as is His pattern in the
lives of His children. After living at Next Step with the first year residents, the
difference from then and today is palpable. It is felt as you walk into the doors and
through the rooms of the home.
It is not found in the Word of God that “orphans” have an age limit. We are described
as children without parents. The Word of God commands that we take care of the
orphans and widows (Psalm 10:17–18). When God gave the Law to Moses and the
Israelites, He gave instructions for how to treat the orphans and widows among
them—with harsh consequences promised if they failed in their responsibility
Here at Next Step we have been privy to watching the orphaned become the
daughters of Christ they were intended to be. The ladies are no longer stigmatized
by the eyes and words of the world, but seen through the heart of Christ and in the
Love of God. The older ladies in the program have brought a deep sense of balance
and maturity that was a missing component in the program.
Staff and volunteers have been able to not only love young ladies, but also embrace
older one’s and welcome them to a life they never knew existed. Each resident has a
thirst and hunger to be accepted. At Next Step they are learning that real love does
exist and they are more than deserving of the love our good good Father has for
them. The evidence is the changes the ladies are making: embracing the course
work, not complaining about chores and tasks set before them, striving to serve
others in our service projects, applying themselves academically, and showing real
fruit in their life skills. As House Manager and Program Coordinator, there could not
be a more blessed place to call home and watch our “Father” do what He does best.
After all He is our Father to the fatherless.
– Niki Payne