These are surface thoughts. Choppy fragments. This post is a muddled collection of concepts and ideas and questions I’ve been mulling over, but sometimes writing things out provides clarity.
I guess we’ll see.
Let me start with key words, in no particular order: foster care, adoption, government, socialism, Christianity, homes, love, church.
These words tumbling around bounce into queries:
Is the church, in part or whole, responsible for the decline of the modern family and the rise of kids in the foster system?
Is the church, in part or whole, to blame for not having adopted so many orphans in our communities; orphans who grew up to become troubled teens and adults and then repeated history in their next generations?
And if so, where do we go from here?
It’s often discussed that Christians are divided on social issues. The “bleeding heart liberals” are over on one platform preaching a loving, all-inclusive Jesus, and the “stiff-necked conservatives” who preach a firm, no-nonsense God who’s all about “doctrine and stuff”.
I bend more to the conservative side, because I believe there are rules and reasons for them, but I also want my heart to bleed for the neglected people who need God’s love and forgiveness as desperately as I do. I want to study and understand the “sound doctrine” of Scripture, because I want to learn how to love like God has loved me, I want to learn how to defend the widow and the fatherless, to speak up for the rights of the oppressed. (Is that too stuffy or stiff-necked?)
I was just reading in Ezekiel where God’s people are chastised for not caring for those in need. This was a big deal to Him even before we created the Department of Social and Health Services.
So then I start to think about all the programs our government has for people who need a hand up. (Conservatives might call them “hand-outs”, which is probably what happens when needed help becomes government dependency instead of a few extra dollars before you’re on your feet again.) Anyway, programs and services. Why is it that the DSHS website has a plethora of links for assistance for food/cash/medical/other and our church bulletin links are primarily for Bible studies and youth group activities? Keep the studies and youth group, those minister to our souls–and let’s add some ways to provide tangible resources that can minister to physical needs, too. I guarantee there are people in church who get into a financial bind on occasion and could use a little money or some extra groceries to tide them over until their next paycheck. Who do we talk to about that, and why is there a stigma about being in need? We are all in need of Jesus (amen) and just as He has provided us with everything we need, can’t we also gladly and un-stigma-tically make overselves available to provide tangible assistance?
And then we have the foster care system. I grew up with many friends in the system, most of whom were adopted into permanent families. In fact, most of my siblings-in-law were adopted into my husband’s family and I’m grateful to have them.
But it kills me that there are so many kids bouncing around temporary placements, and without the prospect of being adopted into a healthy, loving family. I recently read that roughly 50% of the children in the foster system in our state are between 0-4 years old. All three of my babies are in that age range and a knife was twisted into my mother-heart as I processed that.
Church, where are we and what are we doing?
Let’s press on and encourage each other towards love and good deeds. I know several families who are already getting their hands dirty in loving the unloved and I want to see so many more of us there, too.
What if we all just took one? Adopted one baby, fostered one teen through their high school years? I think it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the staggering numbers and go into martyr mode where we “gotta catch ’em all” and then burn out from exhaustion. But could we instead spend our lives doing one thing well, alongside a community of believers who are also doing one thing well? Bear these burdens together? A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Maybe you can’t foster now, but you can donate clothes to a foster care closet–or start one in your church. Maybe you can’t adopt, but you can cook a meal for a family. There’s always a way to love people.
We have money, we have food, we have homes, we have the love of Jesus. Let’s not waste it on ourselves.