I was co-speaking at a women’s conference and the person speaking alongside me said this, “We seek foster families who love God. It’s important for families to love children, of course, but we first seek families who love God…and because of their love of God, they want to serve and love children.”
It seems like it should be obvious but it jumped out at me as an often-missed message when it comes to foster parent recruitment. For me, it appears that it would be nearly impossible to love God and not love children, but I wonder if we get it switched around when it comes to trying to find foster families for children in need. We call people to the ministry of fostering because they love children. Perhaps, we should focus more on calling them to it because their first love is God.
I’ve long thought that foster parenting is a mission field. How can it not be?
Sure, foster families are not necessarily giving up the luxuries of first-world living that most missionaries are, but they are giving up privacy, control and that part of them that once thought child abuse and neglect is not as bad as it really is.
They are giving up their own family time and sleep-filled nights. They are giving away pieces of their hearts that may have been sealed with the belief that trauma isn’t as bad as they once thought or that love can cure just about anything. They are giving up their own plans and instead, walking step-by-step in the muck and mud of child abuse and neglect. With each child that comes and goes, they are carrying away with them all that has been poured into them by their foster families.
Yes, foster parenting is a mission field. And, it should be.
When considering the walkabout of Jesus while He was on Earth, each step He made was a purposeful, mission-minded ministry. When others advised Him to stay away from people who were considered difficult, misunderstood or downright lowly, He walked towards them. Did you read that? Jesus walked TOWARDS them.
When it comes to children, Jesus’s actions in Scripture exemplified how precious they are. He healed a child. He set them as an example of how we should view faith. He cast a demon out of a child. He blessed them, fed them and in many ways, honored them. Jesus’s ministry was very-much geared towards children; towards all of us.
When considering becoming a foster parent, it is important to undergo a heart-check – not a physical one, but a spiritual one. Do you have to be a Christian or believer in a faith in order to be a foster parent? No, absolutely not. However, if you feel foster parenting is a ministry and calling in your life, then you have to act like it.
You must choose to be humble even when you don’t want to be. You have to show resilience, patience and restraint, even when your body and mind are screaming not to. It is hard. It is emotional. It will challenge nearly every aspect of your life, but keep in mind that for some people, you may be the only example of Christ they have witnessed. No pressure, right?!
The willingness to serve God by loving children and youth through foster parenting is a calling. The desire to step into the darkness of abuse and neglect and do so because of faith is remarkable. Foster parents do this. They step out of their comfort zone and right into darkness.
Yes, foster parenting is a mission field, and an important one at that.
“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of care I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” -Forest E. Witcraft