This is Part 1 of a two-part series on Foster Care Ministry.
If you were to ask those closest to me what my passions and desires are they would probably come up with some response, which entails, “Making sure that every child on this earth knows deep within them that they are loved, designed on purpose and that their lives have meaning and value…” With this desire I always thought I would be shipped abroad to care for orphans somewhere between the slums of Africa and the ghettos of Colombia. And perhaps someday I may (God knows I am willing), but with age there has come an even bigger desire to stay in America and open my home to as many foster children as my life allows.
People always ask how many kids I want to have. And I suppose they assume that since I am one of nine that I automatically want a large family…and they are right. My response to that question is always, “Hundreds!” The look on people’s faces when I say that is priceless!
But, I am not kidding, I am not exaggerating and I am not trying to win some kind of award. I truly want to impact the lives of hundreds of children with the love of Christ. I want them to know how deep His love is for them. What greater way to do that than to invite them into my home, regardless of their walk of life, their behavior, or their brokenness and love them deeply as Jesus would?
I have definitely romanticized this in my mind. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that God would call me to this ministry RIGHT NOW, at this particular time in my life. I love children whom I have never met. I have loved children so very deeply who have arrived on my doorstep in the middle of the night. And I pray that this love grows even though it sometimes feels like the weight of it will crush me.
When an orphan or a foster child comes to a new home, they carry with them a trash bag with all of their earthly possessions. Yes, a trash bag. They also carry with them the weight of what they have seen and experienced. Only a few of us will ever fully understand that kind of weight. But imagine how their lives could be forever altered if there were more families, filled to overflowing with the love of Christ, who were willing to say, “For as long as you need me, I will be here to unconditionally love you.”
I don’t think that the foster care ministry ends with loving a child. I firmly believe that this ministry is one where you have the unique ability to give parents the time and space to heal. Where you have the opportunity to speak into parent’s lives in a way that you may not have had any other way than by loving their children.
I know that this can be a scary ministry. Many people consider the impact to their family and children. Many people get halted by the process (it’s a long process in which everything you currently are and everything you used to be is put in a file). Many people want to care for their own children and not someone else’s. I understand all of these. I truly, truly do. But what would it mean in the light of eternity for your children to learn how to open their homes and their lives to some of the most broken and fragile people on the planet. What does it matter that your whole life is in a file somewhere in some office and if by it being there, you have the opportunity to open your home to a child that desperately needs to know the love of Christ. I know it is scary, but I firmly believe in my heart that if you could look into the faces of some of these kids, if you heard their stories, and if you asked that God would use in this ministry, then God would give you more than what you need to say yes to this calling.
I’m including a video with this blog so that you can see for yourself where you’re needed in this ministry. The video is a very accurate and very poignant picture of what an average child in the foster care system goes through (although I will say that it is slightly watered down).
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this two-part series on foster care ministry.