As a result of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, it is estimated that over 7,000 children are currently in the Tennessee foster care system. Some of these children will be adopted into forever families. Most have the goal to be reunited with their birth families and need a loving foster family while they wait. Still others will age out of the system without a family. This is the reality of what is happening around us every day, right here in our own community!
Where can we even begin?
Stability, trust and a sense of belonging are crucial to the healthy development of a child. A loving, safe and supportive family provides these things. When a child is without a family, the results can be tragic and far-reaching.
The stories are often horrific, the numbers daunting, and the problems so complex that it can be hard to know what to do or where to even begin. Yet, at the core of who we are as Christians, we know that we are the ones called to embody the pure religion that includes caring for orphans, those who are marginalized and voiceless. We cannot outsource James 1:27. As Christians, people God has expressly called to love the orphan, we have a role that only we can fill. We must answer the call to care for kids in foster care.
The gospel is our guide
At the center of our motivation to care for orphaned and vulnerable children is the heart of God demonstrated through the gospel. It’s the gospel—Christ interjecting Himself into our brokenness and redeeming us by bringing us into His forever family (Galatians 4:5-7)—that should serve as our guide to both why and how we must care for these kids.
Many families choose to enter the process of becoming licensed foster homes so that abused, neglected and marginalized children can have a safe, nurturing and gospel-centered place to grow and be loved. Daily, these families carry both the weight of brokenness and the hope of redemption on their shoulders and in their hearts. It is a beautiful, but hard calling.
Not all of us are called to be foster parents, but we all have a role to play in the lives of these foster families and the children they bring into their lives and homes. While not called to do the same thing, we are all certainly created to do something. The church is uniquely equipped with a variety of giftings and passions to address the foster care crisis. That is how the body of Christ is designed to work—a collection of different parts coming together for the common good.
How to find your something
There are many ways to support and serve foster families and the children in their care. Here are few ideas to help you find your something.
- Pray. Pray for kids in foster care, for the families they come from and the foster families that care for them. Pray for God to heal wounds of rejection, abandonment, fear and mistrust in these kids. Seek out others who will commit to pray with you regularly.
- Meet simple needs. Provide meals, babysitting, lawn and home maintenance, help with vehicle maintenance, provide legal help, etc. The list of ways that you can come around and provide support for a foster family are as unique and varied as the families themselves. Seek out these families and ask how you can best support and encourage them.
- Provide for urgent needs. When kids come into the foster care system, they often arrive with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. The families that welcome them into their homes often need beds, cribs, car seats, clothing and many other basic items. Organizations like Tennessee Alliance for Kids (TAK) serve as liaisons between the faith-based community and the State of Tennessee with the goal of meeting the immediate needs of children and youth currently in foster care and those aging out of the system. Supporting their work is easy. Simply “like” them on Facebook at TNAllianceForKids.
- Provide prevention support. By identifying and ministering to families at risk, we can help reduce the number of kids entering the foster care system. Preventative, restorative care and support for families is essential to help families thrive and to ensure that kids can grow up safely and securely in their own homes.
If you need help finding your something, feel free to email me at . I would love to meet, talk, and dream of unique ways for you to serve.