Every Church Can Do Something
By Steve Kramer, U.S. Missionary to CityServe
I remember the first time I learned about orphans as a young boy. It was from a late-night infomercial highlighting starving orphans in Africa. It hit me hard then, and still today, I cannot fathom not having a loving family to take care of me. I was born into and raised in a home with love and stability. My parents taught me to love and follow God, and I learned of His character and how Psalms says, He is a Father to the fatherless. Sadly, my childhood is a far cry from the reality of orphans. The orphan crisis is real, and the need for adoptions and fostering is high. Currently, in the United States, there are 425,000 kids in foster care, and 122,000 of those are waiting to be adopted. These children are waiting for families that will love and care for them, as I experienced as a child.
We at CityServe believe God’s answer to the pain and brokenness in the world is His church. Because our mission is to equip the local church to serve their communities in any area of suffering, one of CityServe’s ten initiatives for community engagement is The Orphan. The number of children waiting for homes is staggering, and most churches feel the problem is too big and overwhelming for their church to make much of an impact, which is simply untrue. We believe every church can do something, regardless of its size or staggering statistics. And that something can and will make a dramatic difference in the life of a child.
Rick Smith, Director of CityServe’s Orphan Initiative
Recently, I had a chance to talk with Rick Smith, founder of Pathway Family Services in Bakersfield, California, and the director of CityServe’s orphan initiative. Pathway Family Services is committed to helping connect foster kids and orphans to families.
Smith shared with me story after story of lives transformed by fostering and adoption. From the small-town pastor couple who fostered a young boy for 18 months and helped him find his forever family to an 18-year-old who was headed to join the military but was adopted by a family right before he left for the service.
Another story involves two Native-American brothers. When the new adoptive mom asked her 3-year-old boy what it meant to be adopted, he said, “Well, I know I am being donated.” Each one of these stories will make you laugh, bring you to tears, or both. But these stories aren’t just touching, they are changing the futures and destinies of kids and their families.
The best part of each story is every one of the adoptions was made possible through the involvement of the local church in making sure that these orphans found families.
Every church can do something.
Smith says, “Every church can support parents who want to adopt by providing material support and emotional support, but a big part of it all is how the church can be an extended family for that child.”
There may not be a more beautiful example of God’s heart for us than when an orphan is placed in a family. It is amazing to see a local church become an “extended family” to an adopted child.
How Your Church Can Help
We want the local church to reclaim its purpose to care for the fatherless. We understand churches want to serve their community in regard to the orphan crisis but don’t know where to start. Church leaders want to connect orphans to families in their church.
Here are ways your church can make a difference:
• Hold an annual Orphan Sunday highlighting the need for foster care and adoption
• Have foster or adoptive parents share their testimony during a service
• Connect prospective parents to foster care and adoption agencies
• Discover more ways to engage your church in adoption and foster care advocacy with the All-In Challenge
If one family out of every four churches in America would adopt a child, we could eradicate the orphan crisis. This is well within reach today if every church would commit to highlighting the need.
A family at my home church adopted their two children, who are now six and five years old. Their journey of adoption is not just their own. It’s been a victorious story of adoption that also belongs to the church–for every person who has walked alongside them and supported them on the path of becoming a forever family.
“We’re thankful our church highlighted foster care and adoption regularly. God used it to speak to us and open our hearts and home to foster and adopt. We often say this is the hardest yet best thing we’ve ever done. Our children have brought unimaginable joy to our lives and taught us so much about the love of our Father.” – Kris and Jen Watts
If you would like to know how to get started or more involved, please connect with Rick Smith at Pathway Family Services (1-877-550-KIDS) or firstname.lastname@example.org.