According to the Oklahoma Fosters website, there are presently 8,498 children in DHS custody, presenting a massive unmet foster care need in Oklahoma.
In this edition of the Baptist Messenger (see page 6), we see how one association stepped up to meet the need in a unique way. To be specific, LeFlore Association hosted a Foster Family Retreat at which families who are fostering could have a safe, fun environment for their foster children, while the parents received certified training.
Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children’s One Such Child foster care program, which has advanced Oklahoma Baptist work in foster care greatly, was part of this event. This one event not only allowed numerous families to receive part of the required annual training, but led to other ministry.
Hance Dilbeck recently said that Oklahoma Baptists can embrace brokenness as an opportunity for the Gospel. And this foster care retreat at Kiamichi Baptist Assembly is a beautiful picture of the Church, how Jesus turns brokenness and a crisis into Kingdom ministry.
When people think of foster care, too often they have an all-or-nothing mindset. If people think they cannot directly take a foster child into their home, they assume they are of no help.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There are a multitude of ways a person can get involved to meet the foster care crisis with Christ’s love. For example:
The 8,498 children are not mere statistics. They are real boys and girls who are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and who need our prayers. Each day, we can pray that God would bring rescue and restoration to the foster care crisis in Oklahoma, one child at a time.
/// Support foster families
Many churches already have couples who have ventured into foster care. While it is a praiseworthy effort, it is not an easy or glamourous one. If you know a foster care family, find out how you could rally to them and support them.
/// Give gifts
The 111 Project, which links churches to foster care, has created a Care Portal system (viewable at www.111project.org/careportal) that is “a platform to connect churches and agencies in the child welfare space to address the needs of hurting children and families.” Through the portal, Christians can see how they can provide for the material needs of foster care children and families in their area of Oklahoma, all in the Name of Jesus.
An entire support network is needed to help foster care children and families. By becoming a volunteer or trained alternate care giver, you can give of your time and energy toward this great task. Talk to OBHC’s One Such Child program (www.obhc.org/onesuchchild) or a local ministry that helps foster families about volunteering today.
/// Become foster care parents
Ultimately, God may be calling you to become foster care parents. Sometimes, we think only young families or those who already have kids, can foster. It could be that others, such as “empty nesters” who often have great parenting experience and room in their homes, would also be great candidates to become foster parents.
Yes, each of us can do something to help. If Oklahoma Baptists came together to meet the foster care crisis with the love of Christ, lives would be transformed and an area of brokenness would become a springboard for the Gospel. After all, it’s for the kids, and it’s for the Kingdom.
P.S. On Nov. 13, connected to the BGCO Annual Meeting, a foster care rally is set to take place. Be watching for more information on the rally in the Baptist Messenger in the coming weeks.