“Someone really needs to do something about that.” How many times have we seen a need and had that thought? We know something needs to be done but think someone else should do it.
Maybe we think we are too busy, or there is someone else who is better equipped. We can always come up with reasons why someone else needs to do something, but when will we step up and meet the need?
The truth is that God has called us to do something about the need of foster care in our state. According to recent statistics, there are approximately 9,600 children in state custody in Oklahoma. While many of these children will be placed with family members, there are still a great number of kids in need of loving homes who will provide care for them during this tragic and scary time of their life. It is not enough to acknowledge the need, we must move to action.
As Oklahoma Baptists, we understand that we are called by God to stand in the gap and meet the needs of brokenness in areas like foster care. We also know we can all do more together than we can apart.
Each church can play some part in meeting the needs of children in our state who are separated from their parents and families. Our hope is that your church will accept the call to action and find ways to impact this area of brokenness in our state. Together as Oklahoma Baptists we can meet real needs in the lives of children and use this as an opportunity to advance the Gospel.
While not every church can do everything, we can all do something. Your church has a unique DNA and set of gifts that make you equipped by God to make a difference.
Here are a few things that your church can do to impact this area of brokenness.
Recruit foster parents
Research shows that if every church in the state had on average one foster family than the need for placement homes would be met. Your church can work with DHS and other agencies to recruit foster families from within your church. Hold information meetings, invite representatives and allow foster families to share their testimonies in an effort to promote awareness and recruit families to meet the need.
Offer training for foster parents
Every foster parent must have continued training every year for continued certification. Through groups like Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children (OBHC) you can host trainings for foster parents in your church and area to help with these trainings. This is a great way to support foster families in your community, while showing them that the local church cares about them and the ministry they are performing. OBHC has many ideas of how you can utilize their resources to be a benefit to foster families.
Support foster families
Every foster family needs continued support. Things like meals, clothes, and childcare are just the beginning. They need care, emotional support, prayer and encouragement. Creating teams in your church to support these families is a great way to be a blessing.
Jenks, First is an example of support for foster families, creating a dedicated ministry to provide spiritual and physical support to their foster families. Our church, El Reno, First, provides an adoptive and foster support group monthly for parents.
The needs and opportunities are endless in caring for and supporting foster families. Your church can be a place of support and respite for families who are in the fight.
Foster care as an opportunity to advance the Gospel
Foster care is about more than lending a helping hand. When you serve children in need you have an opportunity sow Gospel seeds in the life of the children in your home.
We recently had a placement whose mother began to attend church while she was in our care. Even after this family was reunited, they continue to attend church with us. Caseworkers, parents and children all have the opportunity to experience the love of Christ through the people of God.
As Oklahoma Baptists, we can help meet the need of foster care in our state, but we can only do it when each church has members who are willing to actively meet the need.