Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I have spent the last few weeks reflecting on the amazing parents in our church community. I am continually inspired by the selflessness and courage shown by these parents! If you are a parent, I hope you know how important you are. While most of what you do may seem invisible and unappreciated, your daily acts of sacrificial love carry just as deep a weight in the kingdom of God as any sermon preached from the pulpit.
In this sense, I want to take the time to share on a subject that has weighed heavily on my heart: foster parenting. For those of you who don’t know, May is Foster Family Awareness Month. The purpose of foster care is to provide physical and emotional support to children who have been displaced, abused and abandoned by placing them in the temporary care of loving guardians. Any strategy that aims to provide a safe environment for children is undoubtedly a topic worthy of our attention!
It’s important to note that our post-pandemic world has created even more urgency around foster care than ever before. As a result of the virus and the resulting quarantine, the number of children in the foster care system has skyrocketed well above the number of approved sponsors. According to a recent statistic, there are approximately 424,000 young people in foster care nationwide. And experts suggest that number will rise even more as students return to school and more cases of abuse are reported by teachers and counselors. There are simply not enough foster parents to cover the needs.
If 424,000 children wandered our neighborhoods and streets in search of food and shelter, I imagine many of us would respond immediately. We would open our homes for the night and provide temporary shelter for these children. The current foster care crisis in the United States may be taking place behind the scenes, but there is no doubt that it is urgent.
The need is great, and the conversation is heavy. But we also serve a great God. And the more I think about fostering, the more I recognize how much it reflects the heart of God.
God takes care of the orphan and the widow (Psalm 68: 5). It’s all about bringing lonely people into families (Psalm 68: 6). He cares deeply for these broken families and the children touched by them, and he has equipped his Church to be the solution. As James reminds us, “The religion which God our Father accepts as pure and without blemish is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to beware of being polluted by the world” (James 1:27) .
I understand that for many people, the thought of getting involved with a foster family can seem daunting, especially after the imbalance our world has experienced over the past year. For some, the logistics are overwhelming. You may be wondering, “Where do I start? or “How do I get approved?” For others, the emotional burden of foster care may seem too heavy to bear. “How can I afford to get attached to someone who might eventually be reunited with their biological parents?” “I’m afraid I’m getting too attached, so I don’t want to take any chances.” Still others may not feel equipped to foster. Maybe they have resources and a lot of love to share, but feel like they are in the bad season of life.
I want to encourage you. If you feel the slightest pangs when reading this (and even if you don’t!), Take the time to pray and ask God how you can help in His mission to restore a healthy family. Perhaps God will invite you to make a commitment to pray for students in host families or to financially support a host organization. You may feel compelled to take the first step towards fostering. A large organization is Christian Alliance for Orphans Home – Christian Alliance for Orphans (cafo.org) This is a great faith-based resource for individuals, churches, or organizations who want to know how to get involved in foster care. On the site, you can find out how to host families locally, who to contact and data on the needs of young people in foster care in their area. There are also additional resources to help support those who want to foster.
Whatever role you feel called upon to take on, remember that you are the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. As followers of Jesus, we are called to demonstrate the same radical and sacrificial love with which he walked. We are called to undertake a journey of death to ourselves. Becoming a foster parent – or supporting other foster parents along their journey – is a way of giving our life to serve others. There are many other ways as well. But maybe – just maybe – it’s a path that you feel invited to take. How can the Church meet the need for post-pandemic foster care? We have to start by taking the first small step.
Miles McPherson is the senior pastor of Rock Church in San Diego. He is also a motivational speaker and author. McPherson’s last book “The third option”Speaks of the racial divisions pervasive in today’s culture and argues that we must learn to see people not by the color of their skin, but as God sees them – humans created in the image of God.