Fostering Thoughts and Changing Lives
For the past 10 years my wife and I have been parents. We’ve been graced with a beautiful girl and two handsome boys. Right now all three of them are 10 and under so most days are filled with love, encouragement, repentance, coaching, and heavy doses of refereeing. If you’re anything like us we often feel overwhelmed, falling short, and unqualified. Parenting has a way of directing your attention to both your deficiencies and God’s grace. We wouldn’t trade one day of it. The joys and pains of raising these human beings is a gift from God that we embrace and give thanks for.
I’m sure you, like me, are aware of the foster care system in these great United States of America. I was stunned recently to read that close to 430,000 children in our country are in foster care, and nearly 112,000 are waiting to be adopted. “Foster care is a system run by the government where minors are put into the custody of the state and placed with foster parents to care for their daily needs.” Kids in foster care aren’t necessarily orphans, but many end up in the adoption process. An orphan is, according to Dictionary.com, “a person that is without protective affiliation, sponsorship, etc.” Is that as hard for you to read as it is for me?
Read that again. Close to half a million children are not just under parented, they are functional orphans. They are without protective affiliation or sponsorship. Does that seem cold to you? People, children, boys, and girls without protective affiliation. Would it not be better to say that these children are gifts from God prepared by God in order for God’s people to respond to God’s provision with arms of love, care, and sacrifice?
I get it that last question sounds prepared and pointed. Well, it is. I, and I’m sure many who read this, have for too long been indifferent to this. At the church I am a member of, we say, “The Gospel creates family where there is no family.” I’m suggesting that we begin putting that statement to work. That we move from ideology to reality.
I’m not saying every family has to foster or adopt. What I am saying is every person and every family who claims the name of Christ should care deeply about this. We should pray for the children. We should weep with the children. We should give to the children. We should sacrifice for the children. That’s how the Gospel will create family for these children, many of whom have no family. Will it be messy? Will it be confusing? Will it be risky? Will it be potentially dangerous and hazardous? Well, sure it will. Let us not forget our heavenly father sent his only son into harm’s way to rescue us. Why would we begin to think he wouldn’t risk us to save others?
Brittany Lind, in a stirring article, writes, “The need is enormous, but when you consider that there are roughly 348,067 evangelical churches in America, the 430,000 children-in-foster-care number doesn’t seem quite so daunting. Unfortunately, it’s not a problem that can be solved by simply doing the math and distributing children among churches. Many factors complicate the issue, but the numbers are still fascinating to consider.”
The Church at Martinsburg is only 1 church, but The Church at Martinsburg is 1 family made up of many families. We will not be able to, through our own efforts, solve this. We can make a difference. Consider the power of God at work in your home even if only for a weekend in an emergency. Consider the long term impact of praying over a child in crisis each night as you put him to bed for 4 weeks. Consider the life-changing patterns that are made as you welcome a little girl to your dinner table week after week, and as you watch her your heart moves to see her not as a needy foster child but a gift of grace and an adopted daughter you’ll one day walk down the isle.
May our hearts break as we see what’s before us and may those broken hearts erupt in joy when we see yet again God’s graciousness to us in that while we were orphans, fatherless, and without protective affiliation, he became our Father.
Only God will move our hearts to a place to love like he loves, sacrifice like he sacrifices, and open our hearts as he has. I am confident of this though…every Christian is called to care and to be involved. Why not take a step with my family as we pray, consider, and learn. We have to start somewhere and if you’ve read this far, you’ve already started.
Would you join me and many others this Saturday, February 11 from 1-3pm? The Church at Martinsburg will be hosting a Foster Care and Adoption Informational Meeting. Burlington United Methodist Family Services will provide information, personal testimonies, and space to ask questions about fostering and adoption. I’d love to save you a seat. If you’re interested or desire more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org.