Last week I received a call from our foster care agency: There’s another child in need of care. He’s two years old, and his mom was arrested. It’s only for three days. Can we take him? I think about my hectic schedule, my other responsibilities, and the five children we’re already raising. Then, I think about the little boy’s soul. Yes, we can take him.
And so I find myself scrambling for diapers and clothes, praying that the little guy won’t send my house into chaos — and hoping that I won’t become too attached in the short time we have him. Because, for each of the 43 children we’ve welcomed, a little piece of my heart breaks. I think, “Break my heart for the things that break yours, Lord!”For years, my husband and I have been on this wild ride and have experienced the greatest blessings and deepest pain — sometimes simultaneously!
In fulfilling God’s call to foster and adopt, I’m finding that a broken heart is inescapable.
For years, my husband and I have been on this wild ride and have experienced the greatest blessings and deepest pain — sometimes simultaneously! Countless people have said they could never do what we do. My response is usually, “You could do what I’m doing! You just have to decide that the risk of a broken heart is worth helping a child. As adults, we can choose to take that risk; the brokenhearted children in state care don’t have a choice.”
God’s call is that we help the orphan; he makes that clear throughout Scripture. I like to think that God especially loves foster care, since he entrusted his Son to an earthly foster dad (of sorts). And today the need is so great that it cannot be ignored: According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 400,000 children are currently in state foster care in the United States. Those reasons keep me going when being a foster parent gets difficult.
And it is difficult.
But it seems that when the situations get more extreme, there are more opportunities for touching people for Jesus. The great thing about my job as a foster parent is that I can talk about Jesus to every one of my “clients.” Not only that, but we’ve had the opportunity to share the gospel with biological parents, whose rock-bottom circumstances lay their hearts bare and their messy lives wide open. So many of them are in need of a parent, too.
I recall one teen girl who stayed in our home for less than 24 hours. I became convicted that I hadn’t told her about Jesus yet, so with an officer on the way to pick her up and tears on my cheeks, I remember rushing into her room and saying, “Please trust Jesus! Don’t put your trust in people; you’ve seen how they have let you down time and time again. Jesus is the only one you can truly trust.”
My heart breaks for her and for the other children in care who have been let down again and again by parents, by the system, by others who turned a blind eye. My great desire and calling is that these precious ones would know that Jesus loves them, that he is worthy of their trust, and that he can heal their wounds. Isn’t that what we all need?
Adapted from “Calling: Stories of everyday people loving God & neighbor in extraordinary ways,” an article for the winter 2014 issue of BIC U.S.’ In Part magazine.