Your browser does not support JavaScript. Please enable JavaScipt to view our website.

Oasis Sanctuaries

Katie & Ben Aijian founded a nonprofit called Oasis Sanctuaries, a retreat center in Cape Town, South Africa specifically serving missionaries and their families who are experiencing trauma, difficult life transitions, and/or burnout.

Katie grew up at Lake Avenue Church volunteering with and serving on the pastoral staff from 2010–2017. She vividly remembers hearing all of the stories from the various Lake Avenue missionary families when they would come home and share what God was doing. These stories had a significant impact on Katie, which inspired in her a desire to serve in a missionary context. Specifically, she desired to serve the missionary families like those that came to share at Lake. In 2017, she left Southern California behind to serve in South Africa where she has been doing member care for missionaries in the region of Southern Africa!

In February of 2023, a missionary family who works in South Africa had their lives thrown into chaos. Their two-year-old daughter, Haven, nearly died when she contracted a rare bacterial infection that caused total kidney failure. Fortunately, the doctors and her parents were able to identify what was wrong in time. She was sent to the emergency department and placed on dialysis for six weeks while her kidneys slowly recovered. These six weeks were deeply traumatic, heartbreaking, and completely exhausting. Having their daughter on dialysis for that long in a South African emergency department was like hell on earth for the family; as one parent needed to be with Haven at all times, and the other needed to continue to manage the rest of the family as well as all of the logistics.

During those six weeks our ministry was able to serve this family practically through the organization of meals and by providing other emotional and logistical support in their time of need. Once Haven was released from the hospital, we arranged for the family to take a retreat where they were able to be connected with a trauma care professional who assisted them to debrief and provided some family counseling while they processed through Haven’s near-death experience.

When missionary families experience trauma in the field, they very often have no place to turn and no one to talk to who can help them to process their experience. This can often lead to greater levels of burnout, and even cause them to leave the field. We are so blessed that we are able to come alongside families like this and help guide them to still waters where their souls may be restored.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I will not be in need. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul...”

~Psalm 23:1-3