A Guide to Foster Care Ministry in 2017 – Part Three
Jan 23, 2017 by Jonathan Reid
Talk is cheap, or, so the expression goes.
As we saw in our last post, this is not always the case. One mark of godly wisdom is speaking on behalf of those who have no voice. In this context, speech is an active way to serve the vulnerable and oppressed.
However, if we stop with mere verbal advocacy for the foster care community, we fall far short of the Biblical call to love.
True love demands much more than mere words of sentiment, empathy, or, even advocacy. True love, when necessary, acts on behalf of its’ object…often at great cost.
As we continue to think about how to love and serve the foster care community in 2017, we must very deliberately frame love in the context of action. What tangible action steps can we take to bless those in care?
Prayer is one. Advocacy is another.
A third is to discover tangible needs within the local foster care community and then seek to meet them. The foster care system tends to be under-resourced. Many biological families need a helping hand as they seek to get their lives back on track in order to achieve reunification. Sometimes extended family is available to provide kinship foster care for their relatives but they lack needed items such as bedroom furniture, clothing, etc. Foster families also need help with such things, especially when they are receiving a particular age or gender into their home for the first time. For example, if they have never had an infant before, they may need a cradle or crib for the baby room. Or, perhaps they lack clothing for the age or gender. State subsidies help but often fall short in meeting the need.
Maybe you can meet one of the needs…maybe many. Perhaps you can organize a drive in your church community– an annual diaper or clothing drive could be a big blessing. Maybe you have the gifts and ambition to set up a ministry resource center to collect and disburse donations.
Begin by contacting your local DCF or private agency and simply ask if there exist any particular ways in which they are under-resourced. They may refer you to third party organizations that are already providing such support to the foster care community. For example, in Rhode Island, Foster Forward or The Village for RI Foster and Adoptive Families are doing a good work in these areas. Bags of Hope based in Seekonk organizes a Christmas duffle bag drive that has been a great blessing to the systems in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. If you live in Southern Maine, you definitely want to connect with The Forgotten Initiative of Southern Maine. If you live in another state, your local DCF office can refer you to similar organizations.
This type of ministry is a great opportunity for those who have the gift of giving. Such gifts not only serve to meet significant need but also demonstrate the love of God in a tangible “cup of cold water” kind of way!