Have you ever been frantically looking for your phone with one hand only to realize you are holding it up to your ear with the other? Sometimes, I feel the same way thinking through the needs of foster care as I sit inside a sanctuary filled with loving people and safe homes. We have a need in one hand and the answer in the other, but somehow, these two realities just aren’t connecting. Why is it so difficult for the church to step into the child welfare crisis?
1) We forget it’s a priority to God.
We must either acknowledge that God doesn’t care or that we don’t care that God cares. But we know God cares. Scripture says it over and over again. Psalm 68:5 describes God as a “Father of the fatherless.” Deuteronomy 10:18 says, “He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice…and gives them food and clothing.” James 1:27 states, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” There may be some issues we face with uncertainty regarding what scripture would have us do. This is not one of them. There are over 50 scriptures dedicated to justice for those removed from family: the orphan, the fatherless, the stranger, the homeless. I think we can say confidently that this is important to God. If God cares, why have we not made this a priority?
2) We think the challenge is too big, even for God.
No one would say it, but as Christians, we tend to reject truths with our actions more than our words. Yes, the need is huge, but so is the number of those God has brought into His family. Here in Oklahoma, there are over 6,000 churches. According to statistics from 111project.org concerning Oklahoma, we currently have less than 100 children in shelters, yet we can’t find a place for them to go. There are 8,400 total children in the foster care system, which means if each church had two families step into foster care, there would be empty homes waiting to be filled when children needed a safe place. The 636 children who are eligible for adoption would have a forever home. And who better to support families with the purpose of reunification than the church with extended arms and biblical hospitality? No challenge is too big for God with or without us. But if He chooses to use us, there’s not a lack of people. What is keeping us from stepping in?
3) We don’t think it’s our job to do something.
Life is always easier when we look at a problem as someone else’s job to fix. We all have good reasons for sitting out. We would step in if our children were older, our children were younger, we had more money, or we had a bigger house. We would help out if we were more equipped, were in a different life stage, or we weren’t so busy. We would do something about it if we could, but we can’t.
To some, it is the government’s job alone to meet the needs of others. Whoever said it was our job as the church to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless? Isaiah 58:7 tells us, “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” If we have a calling from God to do something about it, then what’s holding us back?
4) We don’t want to get messy.
Foster care is messy. Caring for children from hard places is messy. Walking alongside others who feel broken makes your once put-together life feel broken too. But who better to step into the broken than those who know the healer? Who better to come alongside when families need a miracle than those who know the Savior? If we can get in the mess, then why don’t we?
5) We know we are a mess ourselves.
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to have it all together to make the difference in the life of a child or another family. You just have to acknowledge the hurt and care enough to do something about it. What a beautiful picture of redemption when God uses broken things to make something new. Don’t wait until your church is perfect, life is perfect, or you are perfect. Be willing to step in wholeheartedly while depending on God to come through in a big way. Let Him use your mess and extend love to another who needs it most.
What’s the church to do? Acknowledge that caring for children from hard places is a priority to God. Realize that the problem is not too big for God. Admit that it is our job to do something about it. Step into the mess for the sake of the broken. Know God can use willing people as a part of His plan for redemption.
Every church’s role may look different. But every church can play a role. Help recruit foster families and then support those families when the hard times come. Take a coffee to the DHS worker who is giving his or her all and then some. Come alongside the family working their plan to provide a safe home for their children.
The one thing you can’t do is do nothing. Take a step and then take another. We believe in a big God. Let us allow Him to use us, the church, in a big way.
Are you ready to pursue a domestic infant adoption? Click here to connect with a compassionate, experienced adoption professional who can help get you started on the journey of a lifetime. Also, visit our photolisting page for children who are ready and available to find a forever family.