If I hear it one more time I might spazz out.
“I’m so glad you all are called to that, not us.”
“I’m just not called to that.”
“I’m glad God hasn’t asked me to do that.”
Over and over I hear similar responses to the news that my hunky hubby and I are becoming foster parents. Most of the time I don’t respond…I just let the comment slide by, but….
While their comments still hang in the air I can see and hear Jesus’ words:
“Whoever receives a child in My name, receives Me.” (Matthew 18:5)
But it’s James’ words I want to have tattooed on my forehead (a conversation starter at the very least!):
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans…”James 1:27
When the church relegates taking care of orphans (including children in foster care) to a calling we are deluding ourselves into believing lies over truth and abdicating responsibility to care for God’s children because it looks difficult, thankless and comes with a societal stigma. And the sad truth is, that not only will we some day answer for our apathy and willful disobedience to God’s Word, lives are being lost in the process.
I am not saying that everyone should fling open their doors and become foster or adoptive parents (although I’d challenge many to take a hard look at their lives and see why they aren’t willing to), but I am challenging the church and all the people in it to figure out how they can help.
Adopt – an agency or an orphanage – get your church, your small group, your ministry or your family connected with the people who are caring for the children. See how you, as the body of Christ, can help support them, meet their needs — maybe it is fundraising, maybe it is prayer, maybe it is collecting comfort items or furniture for foster homes.
Pray – go to an agency website, a state photo listing website or www.adoptuskids.org. Find the profile of a child, print it out and pray for that child. Ask God for a forever family for that child. Pray for their protection, provision, education, health, etc. You may never know, this side of heaven, the answers to these prayers, but they will change a life!!
Support – every community, every church (or almost every), has members who are opening their homes to children (from here in the US or all over the world) who are transitioning into family life, new school, new routines, new everything. Connect with those moms and dads. Find out how you can help — bring over a meal, fold their laundry, mow their yard, get background checked and help with childcare. Carry their burdens (Galatians 6:2)…they are building lives for Christ.
Learn – fire up the search engines, hit the libraries, take a class. Wrap your mind around the scope of the foster care crisis in the states. Become an advocate in your community, in your church, in your workplace for supporting these kids who through NO fault of their own are without parents, without a forever family, without the simple things that so many take for granted.
In a matter of weeks or months our family will expand. My hunky hubby and I are excited at the prospect of getting to parent and love another child (or children). We are humbled that God would call us to something that will change how we look at family and life. We know that our homeschooled children will be exposed to things we might not like (i.e. language or behavior) and they will need to learn new sets of skills and learn to love their new siblings. But we also see the life changing moments that will come from learning that family loves (period) and that God calls us to love (even those who don’t know how to receive it or don’t act like we think they should).
Eyes wide open. Foster care and adoption will challenge and stretch us in ways we can’t even see yet. It won’t always be easy…it will be tough. There will be tears and triumphs. There will be failures and forgiveness. But more than anything there will be love.
We are all called to love (our neighbors as ourselves — Matthew 22:39 — the second greatest commandment).
May is Foster Care month stand up for love and families today and find a way you and your church can get involved!