It was 2:30 a.m. when we received a call. After months of training, house inspections, CPR certifications, and background checks, we were finally approved to be foster parents. Half asleep, my wife answered the phone. A five-year-old girl had been rescued from the hospital and was in need of a home, so we agreed to take her. About an hour later, a little girl with pink pajamas and a teddy bear was fast asleep in our living room. My wife and I gazed with a nervous excitement at this child who was now in our care. Had we made the right choice? Were we really qualified? All we knew was this little soul had been through a lot. She was exhausted. She missed her mommy. She needed to be loved. She needed Jesus.
Oftentimes, the things that are most meaningful are also the most difficult, and caring for children in need is no exception. There are long and challenging days. Occasionally, I am tempted to quit and just go back to ‘normal.’ Sure, not having this child might make the day somewhat easier, but what a great opportunity to show the love of Christ to a family in need. Is it hard to get attached to a child only to have them removed a few months later? Absolutely, but the same Christ who gave his life for others also empowers us to do the same. On my own, I lack strength and often it’s more than I can bear. “Perfect foster parents” simply do not exist. However, the Lord’s grace is sufficient for each day, and he won’t ask us to do something that he doesn’t equip us to do. He takes unqualified, imperfect people and uses them for his glory!
Caring for orphans through foster care/adoption is such a beautiful picture of the gospel, and Scripture often uses it as an illustration. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Romans 8:15). In Ephesians 1:5, we are told that God “predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” Basically, you and I were born in sin, an enemy of God thus an object of his wrath. God was under no obligation to do anything for us and could have let us slide into eternity without him. Yet, even though he didn’t have to, he called a people to himself. John 1:12 states, “But to all who did received him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” When God adopts us, it is at that point we can call ourselves children of God. He, by his grace, has brought us into his family. Now, we can call him Father.
Not only is foster care/adoption a picture of the gospel, it is also a fruit of the gospel. When the gospel changes a person’s heart, that person now looks not to himself, but to the needs of others. We begin to see the needs of those around us and we are burdened by them. James 1:27 says it like this: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” Fostering/adopting is one of the many avenues we have to care for orphans.
There are many children in our county in need of a home. Some need permanent homes while others need temporary homes. This is an area where the church can make a difference in our community and shine the light of Jesus Christ. David Platt, president of International Mission Board, formerly served as a pastor in Alabama. He writes this story:
The woman I was talking to laughed.
I said, “No, really, if a miracle were to take place, how many families would be sufficient to cover all the different needs you have?”She replied, “It would be a miracle if we had 150 more families.”
What a testimony of God’s people! What a picture of the power of the gospel! This is the church being the church. Can you imagine the impact to the surrounding community? Not only were they ministering to those children, they were ministering to all in that county who had heard that there were no more children in the system!
Since May is National Foster Care Awareness month, let’s pray about our role in helping the children in our area. Not everyone may be able to invite a child into their home, but we all can contribute. Here are some possible ways to be involved:
- Become a foster parent
- Adopt a child through the Foster Care System
- Encourage those who are fostering/adopting
- Provide Respite Care (those who are trained and certified to babysit)
- Financially support and/or raise funds
- Help raise awareness of those in need
- Become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer
- Volunteer on a local Foster Care Review Board
- Talk with our local schools about needs of enrolled foster children
Would you consider where you might be willing to help? Would you commit to do something, no matter how ‘small’ it may seem? Yes, it may require sacrifice. Yes, it could be difficult. And yes, you will likely get attached. But, that’s what it means to minister to others. We die to ourselves so that others might live, just like our Savior.