Next time you are at church, take a look around at the empty seats. Imagine if those seats were filled with foster children who were being taken care of by members of the congregation. Wouldn’t that be an awesome sight to see?
This coming up Sunday (November 12th) is “Stand Sunday”. Stand Sunday, an initiative of Orphan Sunday and The Christian Alliance for Orphans is designated as the day where churches are asked to take a stand for foster children. Ultimately, the goal is for there to be an abundance of appropriate foster homes to meet the diverse needs of every single child in the system.
Not everyone is able to be a foster parent, but everyone can do something to help. There are many ways that you and your church can take a stand for foster children.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Foster care is a mission field and the church should be involved. As a church, reach out to local child welfare agencies and request ways that you can help them out. Do they need volunteers for special events? Donations of certain items? What needs could your church fill?
- If foster parents attend your church, offer them a “parents night out” by providing childcare. Each state may have different processes for approval; however, this is not an impossible task to achieve and the families absolutely need it.
- If you are a foster parent or work in the field, ask your pastor about guest speaking. Eek! I know that sounds really scary but only you can provide the kind of insight needed to get the message across. (You can do it!)
- Sometimes, all it takes is for people to be aware of the magnitude of an issue before they get involved. Ask your church if it would print a little blurb about the facts, numbers, and needs of foster children in US foster care system and add it to the Sunday morning pamphlets that are distributed when people walk through the doors. Knowledge is power!
- Start a meal train for new foster families. There is nothing more chaotic than the first week or so of a new foster placement. Often, these families become instant parents to two or more children of different ages and with varying needs. Cooking dinner (unless you count boxed mac-n-cheese/not judging at all) is the last thing on their minds.
- Think about your own talents. Are you a great photographer? Do you have a teachable skill set? Are you a retired teacher or coach? If so, use your talents and experiences to tutor and mentor youth in care.
- Just be present. I know that sounds a little cheesy and all but nothing feels better than knowing one is heard, loved and supported during the good days and the bad.
- Pray! Seriously, Church. Pray without ceasing for children in the system, for their biological parents, caseworkers, Judges and juvenile authorities and for the foster and relative homes who are all on the front lines of battling child abuse and neglect.
I’ve worked in child welfare for close to 17 years. I fostered for four years, as well. I sure wish the demand for my job did not involve child abuse and neglect. I’ve worked with far too many kids who have said, “No one cares”.
Church, it’s time we show them we care.
It’s time we take a stand.