As I have entered into a world recently that many are unaware of, I have become convinced that I should speak up. Foster children are the invisible children around us. My message to you is that more families or couples in our churches need to nominate themselves to become foster parents. Not because they have time. Not because they are in the perfect place in their lives. Not because they are waiting for God to ‘tell’ them. I think we need more people to take radical, preemptive leaps of faith, for the sake of these children. I think we need to stop more often take notice of the need and wonder what Jesus thinks of the children in foster care. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 9:13) and we are instructed to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is Heaven,” I sometimes wonder if we have the ability to usher the Kingdom into our very homes by caring for the most vulnerable among us---add that to James 1:27 ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’
I have a vision that every county, in every state, in the USA has social workers that breathe a sigh of relief because they have someone to call each and every time a hurting, abused child comes into care because of ‘that church in town…..” or ‘that Christian community.’ Is there a better way to be lights in the world?? There have been a few times in my home church, where a group of women have gathered on a Saturday to make frozen, easy crockpot meals or casseroles for new foster parents. Two of the churches in our small community gathered over 250 volunteers one Saturday to hold an event for foster parents----cleaning their home or working in their yard for 4 hours on a specific day. They then delivered a hot meal for for them to enjoy (it gets expensive with our larger- than-normal families to eat out and we are tired of pizza!!).
Each time I am out in the community and the conversation starts about our kiddos, people say to me, “Well, I have thought about doing it…..but….” I then reply with, “Here, listen to this…” and I play one of the many voicemails I get at least weekly from our county social services office searching for a home to place children in 2, 3, or 4 child sibling sets, or a 15 year old or a 4 year old or a newborn with a 5 year old…. I tell the curious on-lookers of the need for foster parents to give the current foster parents a break---to provide needed respite to the overwhelmed families. Few people know that most foster children cannot be ‘babysat’ for more than 24 hours unless it’s with another foster family…So I always say, “Get licensed, we need help!!” Our county has been so inundated at times that our social worker reports working until 9pm almost daily and her on-call hours being stretched through the weekend. They even built bunk beds in the office for those late night pick-ups where they cannot find an immediate foster home.
For every drug addict that is not yet set free, there might be a child needing a home. Wouldn’t it be just like God to give us the nations for our inheritance once we, as a church prioritized our CHILDREN above many of the things we talk about?? When I think about the verse, ‘If we humble ourselves and pray, then He will hear and He will heal our land…” What if we humble ourselves to literally invite them into our homes and provide for them the love and care they need….wouldn’t that be just like God---to heal our land by the church rising to taking responsibility for our children (aka our future) that silently cry out? By becoming servants to our community like this, we put ourselves inadvertently in a place of powerful influence---not just to the community of social services and the kids themselves, but for the birth families of these children who will SEE life done differently than they may have ever seen before.
Please consider helping me spread the word and change the way foster care is discussed (or sadly not even addressed) in church. The emotional, mental, and physical houses of these children are on FIRE and in my mind, Holy Spirit filled Christians are the firefighters. We have the Living Water that will literally quench the fiery darts of the evil one. Please begin to bring this issue to the pulpit. Please inform your fellow leaders…. Please begin seeking out the foster parents in your church and listen to their experiences. Please begin to find ways to support them and encourage the your church family to further their influence by lifting them up in prayer---in both public and private, by providing physical relief, and to do more than donating a toy at Christmas!! Most of these children DO NOT need toys at Christmas! They need unconditional love and a patience that is empowered by the Holy Spirit. They need homes that are Spirit filled and foster parents who will go into spiritual battle with and for them, and literally stand in the gap! They need a steady hand of gentle discipline to understand that they are loved. They need sports and activities to take them out of the stigma of their classrooms so that they can literally be on an equal playing field, perhaps for the first time. They need advocates, invested in them until they trust us enough to hear their painful stories and to allow them to melt down and act younger than their age because they were never held as babies. They need to be allowed to be children because they may have grown up to fast, fending for themselves while mom slept all day or caring for their 4 or 5 or even 6 younger siblings. They need grief counseling and hope to know that Jesus will never abandon them. They need a “Jesus with skin on.”
….And so do their caregivers…..Foster parents need childcare if they are working full time jobs in addition to the enormous demands of these needy kids. Sometimes, there are grants. Many times there are not. Foster parents need alone time, exercise time, and fellowship with people who know about the special kids in their care. Foster parents need other foster parents, preferably consistent ones, to take the children in their care for much needed respite, or in case of a family emergency. My family had to purchase a larger vehicle because our previous cars only seated 5 and we instantly became a family of six again. Foster parents often need logisitical help, because suddenly, you are driving to a new and different school each morning----adding more to your morning routine. Or ----not biologically prepared, but making bottles in the middle of the night for a child you do not know whether or not will stay.
This letter is becoming longer than I thought, but I hope you can see that it’s because the need is so great. I believe with my whole heart that revival is possible as the church rises up and begins to get serious about each and every child. I want my family---the family of God to think about what they can do every week, when the social workers down the street are probably doing that next intake, or when school starts in the fall when the county gets bombarded by kids because they are either confiding in their teachers or the teachers actually notice ‘something’. Fostering and now potentially adopting, is something I never thought I could or would do… and yet here I am, finding myself in the middle of one of the most difficult challenges I have faced, but also feeling like my own cheek is squarely in the middle of the chest of my Abba, hearing his heart beat for these little ones.