Focus on the Family
Search

Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

From Foster Care to Family: How a Small Church is Making a Big Impact

From Foster Care to Family: How a Small Church is Making a Big Impact

Bishop W. C. Martin shares his remarkable story of leading his small church to adopt 77 children out of the foster care system, alongside the producer who's turned his story into a movie, Rebekah Weigel. Dr. Sharen Ford encourages and equips families to be a part of the movement Martin and Weigel are starting, to end the foster care crisis.
Original Air Date: July 1, 2024

John Fuller: Today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, you’re gonna hear how one couple answered God’s call to care for the fatherless, and how they inspired an entire community to actively love children in need. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, I want everybody to know we are a pro-life ministry. We’re not embarrassed by that. We think that’s the better choice and we work hard every day here at Focus on the Family to help women make that decision, and then to help them along that journey. Many churches are doing the same thing, uh, pregnancy resource centers, there’s so much help in that space. But you know what, uh, there are families that, uh, end up impacted by so many different things, drugs and alcohol. And that was my story.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: My dad was an alcoholic. My mom died when I was nine. I ended up in foster care for a year. And that’s why this is so close to my heart, being a former foster child.

John: Hmm.

Jim: And, uh, many, many years ago, I heard of a story of a pastor, and it was Bishop Martin who is one of our guests today, whose church of about 200 had about 77 kids adopted. I was like, “Wow-

John: Hmm.

Jim: … what is in the water in Possum Trot?”

Rebekah Weigel: (laughs) That’s God.

Sharen: (laughs)

Bishop: (laughs)

Jim: And so, I am so excited today because, really, I wanna say this with the deepest respect, his testimony, his witness is what initiated our effort here at Focus-

John: Hmm.

Jim: … to do more in the foster space.

John: And boy, we’ve done a lot-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

John: … under the direction of, uh, Dr. Sharen Ford, who heads up that effort. Uh, families are being equipped and, uh, educated about what it means to come into the foster care system, and adopt and care for these children.

Dr. Sharen Ford: Exactly.

John: Uh, we have, uh, Bishop W.C. Martin joining us. As you said, Jim, he’s the pastor of Bennett Chapel in Possum Trot, Texas. And also with us, Rebekah Weigel. She produced a film about this incredible story. It’s called Sound of Hope and it’s coming out soon.

Jim: I’m looking forward to it, uh, July 4th.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And, uh, um, Jean and I are gonna go. We’ll take our boys, if they’re available.

John: (laughs)

Jim: But everybody should go see this because it is convicting. What can we do? Let me paint a little bit of that picture. There’s about 400,000 kids in foster, uh, the foster system in the United States. About 110,000 are available for adoption. This is where the parental rights have been terminated, and these kids are just waiting, just waiting.

John: Hmm.

Jim: And, uh, you know, th- they’re not necessarily gonna come completely intact and ready to go. They have issues that they’ve had to deal with.

John: Yeah.

Jim: Many have been abused in a variety of ways. But who better to love on these kids than the Christian church? I mean, we should be at the forefront.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I always talk about looking forward to that day when there’s a New York Times headline that says, “Christian church wipes out waiting adoption list for foster care.”

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: You wanna change the tenor of the debate, you wanna prove what Christianity is all about? Let’s aim for that headline.

John: Ah, that’s great, Jim.

Sharen: Yeah.

Rebekah: Yeah.

John: Yeah.

Rebekah: Yes, let’s do it.

John: And I think you’ve done, you- you’ve said this before, the math is pretty simple. If every church-

Jim: Oh my goodness.

John: … would just step in.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: That’s what hit me, you know, that-

John: Yeah.

Jim: … I think at the time, I don’t know if this is still accurate, there’s, like, 360,000 churches in the US and 110,000 kids needing to be adopted.

John: Yeah.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Jim: It’s not easy. We’re going to talk about that. And with that background now, let me say, welcome to all three of you.

Rebekah: (laughs).

Jim: Good to have you at Focus.

Sharen: Good morning.

Bishop W.C. Martin: It’s a blessing to be here.

Rebekah: Thank you.

Jim: Man, it’s so much fun. Uh, Bishop Martin, let me start with you. You have that incredible story. I’ve given just a little taste of it.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Um, I mean, how many kids did you, uh, personally adopt and then how many, uh, kids were adopted through your church?

Bishop: Uh, we had, uh, uh, we adopted, personally, um, four kids. And we have in the church a total of 77. We had one little boy who was the last one to come in… We had… there hadn’t been any adoption going on in about maybe six, seven, eight months. And then a lady called me one day and said, “Look, uh, are this the church that had been adopting a lot of children?” I said, “I got a little boy that we just don’t… we- we just can’t deal with him no more. Can you take him?” I said, “Bring him on.”

John: Oh, (laughs).

Rebekah: (laughs).

Bishop: So, we found a family-

Jim: (laughing)

Bishop: … and, uh, they was gladly to-

John: Aah.

Bishop: .. a- accept him, and- and- and it- it- it- it just sprung from there. He’s, he was a… he went on to be a, he’s about going on to be a basketball star.

Jim: So the first time you met Mercedes and Tyler, uh, which is depicted in the film so beautifully, what happened?

Bishop: Well, Mercedes came and- and, uh, she- she was always a daddy’s girl, you know? So she just came up to me and- and, um, and jumped up in my arm, you know, and-

John: (laughs)

Bishop: … and then Tyler ran to my wife, uh, Donna, and then she… jumped up in her arms. And- and one of the things that my wife got both of them, to carry them to the box. And, uh, and- and Dr. Ford, you shared this a while ago, and said, “She opened up the box and said, ‘Look, you see all this food here? You…” opened up the cabinet, “See all this food here?’” And the one thing she told them, because they had a… been in nine homes in one year, she said, “Mercedes and Tyler, this is the last train to Georgia. You will not be leaving this house.” And I don’t know if that resonated with her or not, but I really believe it did, because, uh, um, Mercedes was- was, uh, she was smart. She was a very smart little girl, how to scheme her way. But she couldn’t count to five. And it was so amazing about it because my wife used to sit at the counter every day and had a jar of pennies to teach Mercedes how to count to 10, 20, and 30. And it went on for a wide while. Mercedes ended up finishing school as a A honor roll student.

Jim: (laughs) Wow.

Bishop: And- and… Yeah, because of the fact that somebody-

Jim: What an achievement.

Bishop: … and I think you’re right and… I think you right about that. When all they need is someone just to take up a little time with them.

Jim: Hmm.

Bishop: Help them, and guide their little thought because their thoughts have been traumatized so much. And it needs something else now, to take the place of that trauma-

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Bishop: … and show them that they are- are loved, they- they- they are part, they- they want to be a part, they need to be a part. And it- it really is amazing though, it really is amazing. Those children gave me a PhD in child psychology.

John: Ah! (laughs)

Jim: Yeah. Amen!

Rebekah: (laughs)

Jim: I mean, that’s the one thing that’s so true, there’s so much potential in these children.

Rebekah: That’s right.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: You know, one of the things that, uh, children unfortunately, in this situation often don’t have, is simply a parent that is able, capable, uh, to love them-

John: Hmm.

Jim: … and to help them.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I mean, whatever has kind of taken their legs out, in these kids through the courts and the other ways, these kids are just without that kind of loving adult-

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … in their life. Share, just their story a little bit and tell us w- w- what they were dealing with as children.

Bishop: Um, Mercedes and Tyler was, um, was two that were very, very… um, they was different. Uh, in the beginning they… the- the case worker told us that we were gonna never be able to handle, uh, Tyler and Mercedes because they had been in nine homes in one year.

Jim: Hmm.

Bishop: And said that there’s no way in the world they was… We were just getting in the business and they wasn’t going to bring nobody in. We green, we don’t know nothing and- and they were just gonna run over us. But we fixed that problem. And Mer-, and- and Mercedes had a very, very bad problem of stealing and lying.

Jim: And stealing food, particularly, yeah.

Bishop: Food- food. I mean, she- she was in a thought… And- and I think she did that because of the fact that she’d been hungry.

Jim: Right.

Bishop: And I think she developed the attitude of stealing when- when she had to steal in order to feed her little brother, Tyler. And that’s why she came in it. And I mean, she could do it for… so beautifully and she could steal so smooth and she could lie so smooth. And she could look up at you and just make you believe the lies that she’s telling. But, you know, I had to tell her one day, “Mercedes, I’m too old a cat to be fooled by a kitten.” And you are-

Jim: (laughs)

Rebekah: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Jim: Too old a cat to be fooled by a kitten. I like that.

Bishop: You- you got, you got to come out with another story, y’all, because that ain’t gonna work with me, you know?

Jim: What look in her eyes did you see when you said that?

Bishop: Oh, Lord-

Jim: Like, “I’m caught.”

Bishop: … she had just that gleaming eyes.

Rebekah: (laughs)

Bishop: I know, you’ve got to believe I’m telling you the truth. So, uh, I… the way I fixed that, you know… and a lot of times, old people had different ways of doing things, you know. And I- I came up under some of them old time ways of how to handle situations.

Jim: Right.

Bishop: And- and we held in her real good. She… one night we were riding together, Mercedes said- said- said, “Daddy, um, uh, I hear sirens, uh, I guess the police is going to pick up somebody from stealing.” And, uh, I was like, “Really?” “Yeah. They gone and stole something and the police gonna go get ’em.” And one night, we… I had finished a revival and- and Mercedes order some- some funny face hotcakes. And she was sitting there eating a hot cake. And I saw this big policeman coming there. Man, he had some biceps and triceps on him-

Rebekah: (laughs)

Sharen: (laughs)

Bishop: … that would make him. So, I… He went in the bathroom and I went in. I said, “Man,” I said… the Lord, the Lord just quickened my spirit and said, “That’s where you gonna stop her right now.” So, I went in and told him. I said, “Man, I got a problem out there. I got a little girl I just adopted. I mean, she’s as sweet as she can be but this little girl will steal you blind. And I- I don’t wanna see her in the system twice. She just came out of the system, I don’t wanna see her get… Go over and get back in the system.”

Jim: Hmm.

Bishop: So, he- he went there and- and called her name out and when she said she almost swallowed that whole plate of hot cakes.

Rebekah: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Bishop: Uh, but we stopped her. He said, “If I catch you stealing, girl, I’m gonna put you in the jail.” We had no more problem with her stealing.

Jim: Huh!

Bishop: That was it. That ended it right there.

Jim: Yeah.

Rebekah: Hmm, good.

Bishop: But she was slick.

Rebekah: (laughs)

Jim: Yeah.

Bishop: She was really slick.

Jim: Well, and that’s one of the amazing things. These kids learn to survive.

John: Yeah.

Bishop: Hmm.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm, really.

Jim: But I think what is good, especially for Christians who want to engage, you have to have the adult brain.

Bishop: Yeah.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Sharen: You do.

Jim: You don’t let your emotions get out of control-

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … because these kids aren’t capable of doing what you tell them to do.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: You have to nurture them-

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … to a place of safety.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Jim: They’re not used to that.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: Mm-hmm.

John: Hmm.

Jim: They- they… In fact, somebody once told me in our process, they’re gonna keep testing your ability to love them.

Rebekah: That’s right.

Sharen: Yeah.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So, what they do is-

John: Hmm.

Jim: … they try- try to sabotage the environment-

John: Mm-hmm.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … to see, “Do you really love me?”

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … “Even if I do this, do you still love me?”

Rebekah: Yeah.

Sharen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: “If I do this, do you still love me?”

Rebekah: Exactly.

Jim: ‘Cause they haven’t felt that kind of unconditional love before.

Sharen: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Bishop: And- and, you know, you know, that is… that’s a, that’s a true fact and a true statement, because what I found out is that… and I- I- I tell ’em all, the child got to learn to trust you. While you’re talking about you wanna trust them-

Jim: Right!

Bishop: … you got to learn, that child gonna have to learn to trust you. And in the midst of all of that, you gonna go through some problems. There gonna be some situation there that gonna make you literally just pull your hair out. But you got to, you got to stay in the matter. You got to stay with the course. You got to stay on course and know that this is a child that have… that- that brought up on a trials and tribulations and heartaches and pain, and this child gonna need something else other than what they been receiving all the time.

John: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Well, the- the reality was, you know, we go into this thinking we’re good, adult, mature believers and then you find out-

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: (laughs)

Jim: … Oh, I’m not as close to God’s-

Sharen: Yes!

John: (laughs)

Bishop: (laughs)

Jim: … principles as I thought I was, right?

Rebekah: Yes!

Jim: So, I mean for Jean and I it was like, you know, we thought we had patience and love and joy down pretty well (laughing)-

Bishop: (laughs)

Jim: … but then, in that environment-

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … yeah, it tests your ability-

Rebekah: It does.

Bishop: Hmm.

Jim: … to be truly, uh, Christ-like to these kids.

Bishop: Yes, yes. Yeah.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And it takes so much… and that again, I’m not gonna be effusive here, Bishop Martin, because you- you really set a pathway for so many.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Through a variety of organizations that have, uh, watched what you’ve done-

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … to set that stage and to move forward. Let me ask you about Terry-

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … because Rebekah, as I get you into the conversation-

Bishop: Hmm.

Rebekah: Hmm.

Jim: … I want you to talk about… you did the film.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Bishop: Hmm.

Jim: Terry’s story was, uh, uh, a core part of the movie.

Rebekah: Yes.

Jim: But describe Terry to us, Bishop.

Bishop: When Terry came to us, at first, uh, we were just for s-… uh, supplying some respite, uh, for the parents who had Terry. But then they came back a week later and told us that Terry was not going back and asked us, could we just keep her for a while-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Bishop: … until they found a safe home for her? But then, end up, Terry end up staying completely. Terry came in our home and the first time she… I saw her, uh, she jumped up on the table and said, “I’m a cat.” And I- I could not… I said, “Girl, are you a cat? How in the world are you gonna be a cat?” “Meow, meow.” I said, “Girl, what’s wrong with you?” You know, and she said, “I told you I was a cat.”

Rebekah: (laughs)

Bishop: See, and that lasted for a while-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Bishop: … but then, when it came to f-… the eating time, that’s when, um, the- the- the, well, you can say the pedal hit the metal.

John: (laughs)

Rebekah: (laughs)

Bishop: You know what (laughs)?

John: Reality came in quickly.

Bishop: It came in. And… “I’m hungry.” So, I said, “Well, um…” I said, “What you?” “Well, uh, I- I- I’d like to have a hamburger.” I said, “Well, cat don’t eat that.” I said, “I’m gonna give you what cat eat.”

Rebekah: (laughs)

John: Oh (laughs)

Bishop: “And when you get food-”

Jim: Some cat food.

Bishop: “You don’t eat… you eat cat food, if you a cat. I’m gonna give you some cat food.”

Rebekah: (laughs).

Bishop: So, you can go have-

Jim: Now, this was just the idea so she could process it.

Bishop: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jim: Yeah. I like that.

Sharen: Cup your hands.

Bishop: But yeah, she’s thought about what I was saying, I… So, when we sitting up there eating black-eyed peas and smothered chicken and corn bread-

Jim: I heard you’re quite a cook, by the way.

Bishop: (laughs)

Rebekah: (laughs)

Sharen: (laughs)

John: (laughs) You’re feasting and she’s watching this, thinking-

Jim: She’s thinking, “Okay, I’m not a cat right now.”

Sharen: Yes.

Bishop: (laughs). I think, I think that process right there-

Jim: Uh-huh.

Bishop: … ended her cat days.

Jim: (laughs)

Sharen: (laughs)

Bishop: And she had never… and then, some kind of way, I don’t know what happened to the cat, because she had this huge cat. And what I really saw in Terry was, is that she didn’t… Nobody wasn’t paying attention to her and she just played with this cat. She hung around this cat. She’d go to school, come back and all evening she was just with this cat. And she ended up taking on that cat mentality. And-

Sharen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: That’s interesting. Yeah, the cat was her friend.

John: Well, this is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. We have three guests all passionate about, uh, this matter of stepping in and making a difference for children in the foster care system. And we want you to find out more. Uh, stop by our website, we’ve got resources about Wait No More, our adoption, uh, and foster care efforts. We’ve got, uh, details about Rebekah’s film, we’re about to get to that, I think. And also, uh, Bishop Martin’s story. It’s captured in a book published by Focus on the Family. It’s called, Small Town, Big Miracle: How Love Came to the Least of These. And you can find out more when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: I have a rewrite on the title.

Bishop: (laughs)

Sharen: (laughs)

Jim: Maybe you’ll like it. Small Town, Big Miracle: How Love Came to Town.

John: (laughs)

Rebekah: (laughs)

Jim: You remember that song?

John: Yeah.

Jim: How love came to town.

John: How love came to town, yeah. That’s good.

Jim: Anyway, Rebekah, let me get you in here. Uh, you’re a movie producer, you and your husband. Uh, you saw the story, heard about the story and Terry’s story in the story, particularly got your attention.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Jim: Why and then, why do the movie?

Rebekah: Yeah. Well, you know, I think of all the kids, like, that one was the most interesting. Like, f- from a storyteller’s perspective.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: You know, this child that’s been through so much that they’re identifying, you know, as a cat and she had, you know, a lot of challenges. And we had to figure out a way to condense the story.

Sharen: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: You know, you have…

Jim: Yeah.

Rebekah: It’s a challenging story. I know a lot of people have attempted over the years and it’s, how do you tell the story of 22 families adopting 77 children? I mean, that’s- that’s what inspires us, is the grand-

Jim: Right.

Rebekah: … vision of, like, this church stepping in together. But that’s not exactly easy with the story. So, I think, following the Martin’s journey and then, you know, the challenge of Terry and- and a child that’s been through so much and how do they do that together, as a church? Um, that’s what drew us… uh, whe-… to telling Terry’s story but, you know, personally, for us, we were on the other side of the country, living in Los Angeles. Um, we’ve always felt called to make films that really impact the world and impact culture.

Jim: Yeah.

Rebekah: So, we moved to Los Angeles in 1998, which is interestingly, the same time that they started this journey of fostering and adopting. And we had always, as Christians, felt called to foster and adopt at some point. But we were living in Los Angeles, we have three of our own kids. We always felt like we had more than we could handle. You know, it was like this dream, some day we will foster and adopt. And I think a lot of people feel that. You know, there’s so many Christians I talk to that are like, “Someday I wanna do this,” or, you know, “Someday, when my life isn’t so crazy, I’m going to do this.” Or, “When I have a bigger house.” Um, s-

Jim: Yeah, you go through all those gyrations about, when I get married I’ll do this.

Rebekah: Yes.

Jim: When I have children. When I have enough money, I’ll have children.

Rebekah: Yes, when I have a house.

Jim: Well, maybe we should adopt some day. Yeah.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Jim: All those, uh, discussions that go on. And it really comes down to just do it.

Rebekah: I know.

Jim: Not to steal from Nike but it is a good slogan.

Rebekah: (laughs).

Jim: Just do it.

Rebekah: I was-

Jim: Uh, Bishop Martin, let me ask you this.

Bishop: Hmm.

Jim: Uh, so often, you know, I love the Lord writes it down for us, right?

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

John: Hmm.

Jim: If we’re gonna have a spiritual SAT test, He said, in Galatians, “If you’re rooted in me, you will have the fruit of the spirit.”

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: “And the fruit of the spirit is this-

John: Hmm.

Jim: … love, joy, peace.”

John: Mm-hmm.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So, people sometimes… you know, I do try to talk to people who oppose what we believe, whether that’s LGBTQ-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … community or whomever it might be, just the more liberal, progressive folks. And people, Christian people say to me, “It’s so good of you to be able to do that.” I said, “All I’m saying is I can read the Word.”

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Is that kind of your thing? I mean, you came up with this great idea while you were reading the Word and it said, “Take care of the orphans.” (laughs)

Bishop: Yeah, and- and- and- this is, this is where, this is where I am. You- you mentioned how can we do this when you got, you got to do this and you got to do that, and you got to have this and you got to have that. All of us. My biological son was born with severe brain damage.

John: Hmm.

Bishop: And- and- he’s- he’s- he’s about 42 years old now.

Jim: Oh.

Bishop: And he’s still at home with me.

Jim: Oh.

Bishop: But what God did for us, He taught us what patience is all about.

John: Hmm.

Jim: Yeah.

Bishop: And this is one of the key aspect that you got to have is patience.

Rebekah: Hmm.

Bishop: James 1:27 is that what we need to really focus on. “Take care of the widows and the orphans.”

Rebekah: That’s right.

Bishop: This is the, this is what God… The Bible said that- that- that’s what true religion is all about.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Bishop: That we do this. But I think that, that for the most part, we have to done due benevolent to James 1:27.

Jim: Hmm.

Bishop: I think we gone and kind of swept that under the rug a little bit and looking at it from a different perspective. And we looking at all the things what we can’t do. But the word can’t is not in the Bible.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Bishop: But the word can is in the Bible.

John: Hmm.

Jim: That’s right (laughs).

Bishop: So, if we gonna do this thing, the Bible said, I can do all, A-L-L, all things through Christ Jesus-

Rebekah: Come on now, yeah.

Sharen: That’s right.

Bishop: … so, becoming a child of God and doing what you talking about what you can do. I believe that- that the spirit and the power of God will give you that anointing to do whatever you will need to do when it come to these children.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: Yeah.

Bishop: That stuff is over with. It’s time now, for the church to rise up and take this by force. That’s what God wants us to do.

John: Amen.

Bishop: We been playing this thing too long-

Sharen: (laughs)

Bishop: … but now it’s time for us to put action in our walk and, I mean, God said-

Sharen: Yes.

Bishop: … I think James also said, “Don’t be a talker but be a walker.”

Jim: Hmm.

Bishop: It’s time now for us to be some doers of the Word.

John: Yeah, amen.

Bishop: I’m gonna leave that, y’all. I be preaching to you.

John: Preacher in the house!

Rebekah: Yes, yes, yes.

Sharen: (laughs).

John: (laughs).

Jim: I mean, that’s exactly right.

John: Perfect, yeah.

Jim: A- and the point is, it doesn’t take a lot of- of mental gymnastics to do it. I mean, you see it. It’s not easy, though, Sharen. I need, to-

Sharen: It is not easy.

Jim: … it’s the right call, but-

Sharen: You know what, because everybody is not called to be a foster parent or an adoptive parent.

John: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: There are other families who are called to do other things, like, su-… Be support… provide supportive services to wrap around families who are fostering or who are adopting. I want every person, for you to ask God, “God, how would you use my family?”

John: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Sharen: “And if you’re calling my family to step in to be a foster family, let the church support that family-

Rebekah: Yeah.

Sharen: … with other families.”

Jim: And what does it take? You’ve- you’ve-

Sharen: It-

Jim: … done this for years, you know.

Sharen: … it takes families who are flexible, who are open, who are honest, who are teachable.

Rebekah: Yes.

Sharen: Who can laugh with themselves… you know, at themselves-

Jim: Yeah.

Sharen: … and be supportive of another child.

John: Hmm.

Sharen: That they have hope.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: That they, um, are believers in what the Word says that God can do all things.

Bishop: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Jim: Right.

Sharen: That I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Bishop: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: Yes.

Sharen: And so, for those families who step in, let them step in with all vigor and action.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: Let them not lay back and wait.

Jim: Right.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: Let them get in the action right now, because there are kids in your community, in your county, who need you today.

Jim: And being successful in this space, if there’re five families that will help you-

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … you know, do the laundry once a week-

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … or go shopping for you, that indicates-

Sharen: You- you make an excellent point.

Jim: … success for that family.

John: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: An excellent point. What… Families need families who will love them and support them through the process-

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: … and whether they help to cook or clean, come and provide tutoring-

Jim: Yeah.

Sharen: … mentoring for that child.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: Who come and just sit with you when you’re having a hard day.

Jim: Hmm.

Sharen: You know, when say, “Oh, the kids are outside playing but I need some adult conversation for us to meet… Talk me off the edge.”

Bishop: Yeah.

Jim: Right.

Sharen: “Off the ledge.”

John: Yeah.

Sharen: And so, it’s like, “Yes, I need to exhale and so I can get back in there.” Families need to be regulated so that when kids are escalating that they don’t escalate in emotion with the children.

John: Hmm. Hmm.

Jim: (laughs) that’s so true!

Sharen: They stay regulated-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Yeah.

Sharen: … so that they can help that child, um, get their emotions-

Jim: Yeah.

Sharen: … back under control. And they can stay in the fray and help that child get through their life of being abused and having been neglected.

Jim: Yeah.

Sharen: And they can become the people that God wants them to be.

Jim: That’s the bottom line.

Rebekah: Every day.

Jim: Rebekah, right at the end here, your story of adoption.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Jim: What happened and when did that take place?

Rebekah: Yeah. So in 2013 we finally stepped in and I think God just convicted us of, you know, it’s time to- to step in. You’re- you’re never gonna feel completely ready. And so, we were able to adopt a sibling set, um, Erin was seven and Aiden was three-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: … when we adopted them. And- and it’s been, you know, it- it’s been a challenging journey but I think it would’ve been so much easier had we had a church wrapping around us and supporting us the way that, you know, they did at Bennet Chapel. But it’s also been the most beautiful thing that we’ve done and it… You know, I think we were talking about it in the beginning, of really… it really just exposed my heart. You know, it showed me my own weaknesses-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: It does.

Rebekah: … and it showed me what I needed to deal with.

Jim: Yeah.

Rebekah: It was like God was putting a spotlight on my own heart and saying, “This is actually about you changing.” You know, I think the first couple years I was focused on trying to get my kids to change, and how do I fix them and how… you know? And God was like, “No, no. I- I’m looking at you and your heart. And I want your heart.” And that process was painful, you know-

Jim: Yeah, that-

Rebekah: … to see your weaknesses.

John: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: To be exposed.

Jim: That’s the ah-ha!

Rebekah: Your cracks, you know, like-

Jim: You think you’re doing it for them and then God says-

Rebekah: Yes.

Jim: … “I’m actually doing this for you.”

Bishop: (laughs)

Rebekah: Yes!

Jim: I mean, it is kind of a wow!

Rebekah: And- and you realize your need for the church and your- your need for Him and His mercy.

Bishop: Yeah.

John: The idea of grace is vital.

Jim: That’s the bottom line. But John, you and Dena adopted, um-

John: We did, yeah, that was a foreign adoption, not quite the same thing. But our son had gone through some trauma-

Jim: Yeah.

John: … in an orphanage over there and so I’m identifying… I wish I had your wisdom, Bishop, because there is a real… It’s just hard sometimes. These kids bring so many different things.

Jim: Hmm.

John: They’re- they’re just equipped to manipulate s-… that’s just survival, as you said earlier.

Jim: Yeah, that’s so true. Sharen, ending with you then, uh, Wait No More, Focus on the Family. So, people are going, “Okay, what- what do I do?” It is kind of a, uh, difficult process to get started. Uh, what should a person do if we’ve tapped their heart-

John: Hmm.

Jim: … they’re saying, “I don’t know if I would do an adoption but I might do foster, I might help a family-

Sharen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … who is fostering and kind of come alongside them.” What do people do?

Sharen: We want people to contact us at Wait No More. And they can do that by going to our website, waitnomore.org, waitnomore.org. And you say, “Why go there?” Because we have free content. We have free videos, free articles.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: We have a host of bib-… um, information from a biblical worldview. We want to inform and educate and guide people through the process of becoming a foster parent-

Jim: Hmm.

Sharen: … or becoming an adoptive parent. Or being those… the hands and feet of God and providing those wraparound services. And when people go, “Well, I don’t know what I can do.” And I said, “Well, you know what, how about if we start with prayer? How about if we go to the scripture and we let the scripture speak to you.”

Bishop: Lord, God.

John: Hmm.

Jim: Hmm.

Sharen: And as the scripture speaks to you and you begin to have questions, we’re here-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: … to talk with you. And we’re here to pray with you.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: And we can help direct you to resources in your own community.

Jim: Hmm.

Sharen: Where are those organizations that you can be connected to that will, um, guide you through. Going through an orientation, going to, um, that first- first sets of training-

Jim: Hmm.

Sharen: … because yes, you have to be trained to become a foster parent.

Jim: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Sharen: Oh, I… taking a… Getting your physical and explaining why its important that you get a physical.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: Oh, and let’s not forget that background check.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: Because we wanna make sure that you’re not running from the police-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: … that they’re not looking for you. And so yes, there is going to be a fingerprint background check. And all the other many things about getting your house ready, getting your family ready.

Bishop: Yes. Yes.

Sharen: And getting those who are going to be your tribe-

Jim: Hmm. Hmm.

Sharen: … who are going to be those five or six couples-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: … who are going to be there with you through thick and thin?

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: Get them in the beginning-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: … not the end.

Jim: Not in the moment of desperation (laughs).

Sharen: No, no, no!

Rebekah: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Jim: No, that’s really good.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And they can find that at focusonthefamily.com-

Sharen: Yes.

Jim: … it’ll direct them to the Wait No More website.

Sharen: Yes.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Or directly at the Wait No More website.

John: Right.

Jim: John, you’ll do all that.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Lastly, something we do through Wait No More, and this is something I experienced as a foster kid when I was nine, and you know, usually it’s- it’s all very quick, what happens. A parent dies, the court rules that the parent-

John: Hmm.

Jim: … has to be separated.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And you end up moving to a place. There’s no suitcase and we end up in Hefty bags.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I mean, and we saw that with the kids that came to our house.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Always-

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … it was a Hefty bag of clothing.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

John: They get the trash bag.

Jim: Like, a garbage bag.

John: Mm-hmm.

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And, uh, that s- something that was sparked here. We started doing a suitcase-

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … uh, ministry where we would give a suitcase, a children’s Bible and a teddy bear-

Bishop: Hmm.

Sharen: That’s correct.

Jim: … and I think you’re at 38,000 now, that have been-

Sharen: We’re almost at 38,000-

Rebekah: Wow!

Sharen: … and counting!

Rebekah: Wow!

Jim: So, that’s pretty big.

Sharen: Yes.

Jim: And we wanna keep that going.

Bishop: Yeah.

Jim: I think it’s… how much is it to sponsor that?

Sharen: $100.

Jim: $100 does that – a suitcase, a Bible and a teddy bear-

Sharen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … for those foster kids.

Sharen: And it’s not just any suitcase, Jim. It is a 30-inch duffel bag on wheels.

John: It’s wheeled.

Jim: Yeah.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: … that has pockets.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: And we were so, uh, blessed to be able to get to Bennet Chapel-

Bishop: Sure did.

Rebekah: (laughs)

Bishop: Praise the Lord!

John: (laughs)

Sharen: … suitcase bundles for kids-

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Sharen: … who are in the, um… at his, um-

Jim: Yeah.

Rebekah: Aah.

Sharen: … in his community.

Jim: So the point is, you can participate that way too.

Sharen: Yes.

Jim: There’s lots of ways to get engaged-

Rebekah: Yeah.

Jim: Let’s sh- show these kids and those, uh, adults that are loving on them that we’re with them in this.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And, uh, the movie, Rebekah, again?

Rebekah: Yes, to see the movie, um, it’s coming nationwide to theaters through Angel Studios on July 4th. It’s gonna be in over 2,000 screens so-

Jim: And the title is?

Rebekah: Yes, it’s Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot.

Jim: Excellent.

Rebekah: So, take your church, go see it on a free weekend.

Jim: Thank you all for being with us. This is a excellent, uh, Bishop Martin, thank you for the witness, the testimony, the example you have been, and those in your church. Please thank them on behalf of everybody here at Focus?

Bishop: Yeah.

Jim: So good. Rebekah, thanks for doing the film-

Bishop: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … and showing that, uh, it starts with you.

John: Hmm.

Jim: And you’ve adopted. And Sharen for… thanks for all that you do here at Focus.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: We so-

Sharen: It’s my pleasure.

Jim: … love you and appreciate you for that. Thank you.

Rebekah: Yes, thank you.

Sharen: It’s my pleasure to serve.

John: Well, we’ve covered so much on this show today, and again, stop by, uh, the website. We have all the resources there. Uh, we mentioned the book earlier, Small Town, Big Miracle: How Love Came to the Least of These. Uh, it really captures the story of how Bishop Martin and, uh, Bennett Chapel came to step in and help these kids. Uh, get a copy of the book from us today when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Focus on the Family. Sustain us. Help us do this kind of ministry, uh, day in, day out. Make a difference when you donate, uh, and we’ll say thanks by sending the book. Our number: 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY and you’ll find all the resources we’ve mentioned, uh, the book, the film, uh, Wait No More, at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. On behalf of the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Cover image of the book Small Town, Big Miracle

Comfort a child in foster care!

Encourage hurting children with a suitcase bundle today. Your donation will not only support our Wait No More Foster Care and Adoption program efforts, but you’ll also offer a waiting child something comforting that they can call their own! And when you give, we'll say thanks by sending you a book, Small Town, Big Miracle.

Recent Episodes

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Practical Ways to Celebrate Your Marriage

Jay and Laura Laffoon laugh their way through a conversation on practical ways to celebrate your marriage. This couple of over thirty-nine years talks about how to enjoy your spouse by improving your day-to-day habits and attitudes. Work, parenting, and the realities of life can keep couples from taking the time to invest in each other, so Jay and Laura advise couples about how to be intentional and connect more deeply.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Moms and Anger: Understanding Your Triggers (Part 2 of 2)

Amber Lia and Wendy Speake discuss common external and internal triggers that can make mothers angry. They share their journeys overcoming their own triggers, like when their children disobey and complain, and when they have to deal with exhaustion. Our guests offer encouragement to moms and explain how they can prepare to handle their triggers in a healthier way. (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Moms and Anger: Understanding Your Triggers (Part 1 of 2)

Amber Lia and Wendy Speake discuss common external and internal triggers that can make mothers angry. They share their journeys overcoming their own triggers, like when their children disobey and complain, and when they have to deal with exhaustion. Our guests offer encouragement to moms and explain how they can prepare to handle their triggers in a healthier way. (Part 1 of 2)

You May Also Like

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

A Legacy of Music and Trusting the Lord

Larnelle Harris shares stories about how God redeemed the dysfunctional past of his parents, the many African-American teachers who sacrificed their time and energy to give young men like himself a better future, and how his faithfulness to godly principles gave him greater opportunities and career success than anything else.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Accepting Your Imperfect Life

Amy Carroll shares how her perfectionism led to her being discontent in her marriage for over a decade, how she learned to find value in who Christ is, not in what she does, and practical ways everyone can accept the messiness of marriage and of life.