Foster Care, Jesus, & Living Out the Gospel

May is National Foster Care Month in the United States, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services.

Our Story

Something you may not know about me and my family is that we foster parented, and ultimately adopted the child we had in foster care. He came to us at age 14 and is now grown, living on his own, and pursuing a career. We’re very proud of him.

A Picture of the Gospel

Foster parenting is something very near to my heart, and I believe it is one of the most profound ways in which we can live out the gospel: choosing to make someone family, placing your love on them and caring for them, not because you have to, but because you choose to. That is what God has done for us in Christ! He took us who were strangers, and in Christ he makes us full-fledged sons and daughters. He adopted us into his family! (Romans 8:15).

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)

Did you know that Jesus was adopted? Joseph, knowing that Jesus was not his biological son, chose to raise him as his son – to provide for him, teach him, and love him, and be a father to him.

A Profound Need

Foster parenting and adoption are some of the greatest ways in which you can make a real, substantial difference in the life of another person. Does it come with risk? Absolutely! But is it worth it? Most definitely.

Take a look at this infographic from Together We Rise, a non-profit which helps families get into foster care, and foster-to-adopt. It shows the number of children in foster care waiting to be adopted in the United States.

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Children in Foster Care Waiting to Get Adopted in the United States

I challenge you to pray about if God might have a role for you to play in this important and life-changing endeavor, of living out the gospel by welcoming a child-in-need into your home.

A Counter-Cultural Approach

Many people think of parenting in terms of what a child will do for them, such as give them a sense of fulfillment, companionship or the promise of posterity and an heir. The gospel causes us to think differently about parenting, however, in light of how God has parented us. Rather than thinking about what parenting can do for me, my focus in parenting becomes what I can do for the child, to give them the love, provision and instruction that they need; pouring out myself for their sake.

Further Reading

Our church is involved in two annual initiatives, one at Christmastime and the other in the summer, when kids are preparing to go back to school. You can read more here about Project Greatest Gift and Project Back to School.

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Project Greatest Gift 2018 Wrap-Up

Project Greatest Gift, our church’s annual outreach to children and caretakers in the foster care system in Northern Colorado, was a success again this year.

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Loading up gifts to deliver for Project Greatest Gift

In the end, we were able to sponsor 241 children and caretakers in three northern Colorado counties. Additionally, we were able to take part in an event to meet and bless the families who were recipients of these gifts. Along with giving gifts, we were able to include materials in each bag explaining to each child and caretaker the hope that we have because of Jesus.

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Delivering gifts in Greeley

One thing to pray about for 2019 is that Weld County (where the majority of our recipients come from) is considering cancelling their program next year. If that happens, White Fields would consider taking over the program from them. This would require significant resources, meaning we would likely have to expand what we do beyond our church. This might just be the next step God has for this project, but do pray for God’s leading and provision as we move forward!

Check out this interview that our worship pastor Mike Payne did with Christine Appel, the founder and leader of Project Greatest Gift:

Project Greatest Gift 2018

Project Greatest Gift, our outreach to foster children and their caretakers at Christmastime will be kicking off THIS WEEKEND at White Fields!

Check out this video in which Christine shares some information about the great needs that these families face and how we can help:

Starting this Sunday after church, and going through the entire month of November, we will be taking sign-ups for those who would like to sponsor children this year to help make Christmas more joyful, and ultimately to introduce them to the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.

Did you know that children in the foster system are an at-risk people group within our communities?

In almost every case, the reason children end up in foster care is because of an unsuitable home environment, which often involves violence, neglect, drugs and crime. These environments not only result in trauma, but they are also associated with poverty. Many foster care situations are kinship care, which means the child is cared for by a relative, which can create a financial burden, especially in the case of grandparents living on pension.

Poverty has a profound impact on a child’s mental and physical well-being. In other words, the suffering that a child who is raised in this environment endures is not only limited to their childhood, but can adversely impact the rest of their life.

Our church, White Fields Community Church, has a history of ministering to children in the foster system. Through some of our leaders, we have developed a great relationship with the Health and Human Services departments in Weld and Adams Counties, and we are able to make an impact in the lives of needy families in our area. In recent years, we have had the special opportunity to get to meet and serve these families at a Christmas event we help put on for them in Greeley at which the gifts are distributed.

If you would like to be involved, visit us on a Sunday morning this November, leave a comment below, or contact the church here.

If you can’t participate but would like to support this endeavor financially, you can make a donation by clicking here, and choosing Project Greatest Gift from the drop-down menu. 100% of your donation will go straight to the kids and their families.

Article in the Longmont Times-Call about Project Greatest Gift

Article in the Longmont Times-Call about Project Greatest Gift

Last week I wrote a post about an initiative that White Fields Community Church is doing to bless children in foster care at Christmastime. 

The Longmont Times-Call newspaper featured Project Greatest Gift and some other Longmont holiday initiatives in this article.

Project Greatest Gift – A Longmont Initiative to Help Children in Foster Care

One of the great outreaches we do here at White Fields church in Longmont is a home-grown initiative called Project Greatest Gift, which is our ministry at Christmastime to children in foster care.

Project Greatest Gift has been a tradition at White Fields since the beginning of our church, but in the past it was limited in the number of families we were able bless. After looking at ways to broaden its impact on the community and considering alternative programs such as Operation Christmas Child, we decided to attempt to bless the “orphans” of Northern Colorado. Since no orphanages existed in this area, God led us to reach out to local foster families. A couple in the church was heavily involved in the foster system and they offered to make contacts within that system to find families in need. Beginning in 2009, as a result of God’s provision and their efforts, we were able to begin blessing the foster families in Weld and Adams counties through the generous gifts of the congregation at White Fields.  Over the years, we have continued to see God’s great provision for us so we are able to continue to share His abundance with others.

In past years, our church family has provided gifts for around 40 to 60 kids. This year we have had a great outpouring of generosity, and people from our congregation have signed up to provide gifts for 90 children in Adams and Weld counties!

For those of you unfamiliar with the purpose of foster care, it is safe homes, loving caregivers and other family members who take in and provide for children whose living situation is unsafe.  Unfortunately, through no fault of their own, many children live in homes with parents addicted to drugs, who are neglectful or abusive, or who do not know how to care for children appropriately.  So foster homes are critical to meet the needs of these children while birth parents work to recover and learn to parent.  Sometimes, foster homes are also where children’s needs are met while they await a forever home through adoption.  Children in foster care experience grief and loss.  Even when their living situation was unsafe, children mourn its loss, as that is all they had ever known.  Foster parents serve not only as loving caretakers, but often also as counselors as they help the children in their care through this grief and loss.  We are so thankful that we can in some way bless these foster families too by helping provide gifts at Christmastime.

In addition to the blessing of Christmas gifts, please pray for these children that they would soon have a forever family, and more importantly, that they would come to know Jesus Christ as their savior, and God as their Heavenly Daddy.