Editor’s Note: May is Foster Care Awareness Month

As of Jan. 2, 2011 there were 8,046 children in state custody. Through no fault of their own, these children are orphans or “fatherless,” not because they don’t have a parent, but because their families are unable to care for them due to incarceration, extreme poverty, physical abuse, neglect or abandonment.

These children need our help—your help.

In last week’s issue, you read the Littleton family’s journey as they followed their calling to be a foster family and ultimately a forever family for their adopted son. Their story was a reminder that a Christian’s involvement with foster care/adoption isn’t easy, but it is a ”calling” because the Holy Spirit’s undergirding will definitely be needed.

Foster care and adoption is a calling—orphan care is a mandate. Individual Christians may be called to the ministry of foster care or adoption, but all Christians are biblically mandated to take care of the orphans and fatherless.

Understanding the greatest need is for Bridge* foster and adoptive families, the BGCO Ethics & Religious Liberty Committee challenged each of the Oklahoma associations to recruit five families in January. As families in your area embrace this opportunity, we ask that those families register their information at www.bgco.org/ERLC and click on the link Foster Care/Adoptive Information to receive more information and help in getting involved.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Office of Faith Based & Community Initiatives, local foster care ministries and individuals with a passion for intentionally connecting the church with this incredible ministry opportunity partnered together to host the recent statewide 8046 Conference. More than 300 pastors , lay leaders and individuals from across the state, convened in Oklahoma City to hear how the church can minister to foster and adoptive children and practical ways a church can get involved.

During the 8046 Conference, participants had an activity that allowed them to experience a little bit of what it is like when a child enters state custody. The experience was a somber reminder of how deeply these children are affected, even when placed in the best of homes throughout our state. These children are confused, scared and often unsettled, wondering what their future holds.

Part of the 8046 Conference included the unveiling of a prototype campaign to recruit 111 Bridge* foster families from churches in Metro Oklahoma City. What began as a number goal evolved into an ongoing focus of: 1 church, 1 family, with 1 purpose; that purpose is to leave no Oklahoma child without a father or a family. This Central Oklahoma focus is spotlighted at www.111project.org.

Each May, National Foster Care Month provides an opportunity to shine a light on the experiences of the many children in state custody. The campaign raises awareness about the urgent needs of these children and encourages citizens to get involved as foster or adoptive parents, volunteers, mentors, employers and in other limitless ways.

You and your church may not be able to change the whole world, but you can change the world of one child—together, cooperatively, we can change the lives of Oklahoma children.

Please consider the following ways to get involved in foster children’s lives: Create an active prayer group to pray specifically for the children in foster care and the families who sacrificially care for the fatherless; Give every foster child you know their own Bible and blanket; Send words of encouragement to foster families and OKDHS workers; Provide childcare for an evening out for foster families; Become an alternate/respite caregiver; Invite foster families to dedicate those in their care to the Lord during your annual baby/child dedication services; Host commissioning services for families who minister to these children; and MOST IMPORTANTLY, prayerfully consider becoming a foster or adoptive parent TODAY!

How is God calling you to become involved? For more information or to receive the Top 10 Lists for your church bulletin for FREE, please visit www.bgco.org/ERLC under foster care/adoptive information or contact the ERLC by calling Hillary at 405/942-3800.

Written as a collaborate effort by the BGCO’s ERLC and the State of Oklahoma’s Office of Faith Based and Community Initiative.