Not everyone can be a caseworker or a foster family, but everyone can do something.
Growing up in a pastor’s home, I believed God had called me into full-time ministry. I went to Bible college, thinking my ministry would be as a pastor’s wife. (It was 1979, and there weren’t a lot of opportunities for women in ministry.) I graduated without marrying a pastor and began to think I must have misunderstood God’s calling on my life.
My career took me on a path that included working in government and Child Welfare as an assessment worker as well as other roles. After all of that, who would have thought that 25 years after my original calling in college, I would be working for Project 1.27, a faith-based non-profit, named after James 1:27? Project 1.27 recruits and supports foster families through local churches, inspiring Christians to be a part of a ministry that is close to the heart of God.
On my cubicle wall, I have a framed Bible verse:
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” – James 1:27 (ESV)
This verse has become my mission statement. I realized that even before my time working in ministry, when I worked for the government as a child protection caseworker, I was doing ministry. Kids who have been abused or neglected fit the definition of an orphan- a child without parents to care for them.
Everyone Can Do Something
God has blessed us each with gifts and abilities. Romans 12:6-8 tells us that all our gifts are important. Whether your gift is serving, teaching, giving, encouraging, leading, or showing mercy, you are needed. Your gift will fill a need in the lives of people in your community, including kids who have been abused, and yes, even their parents.
So, how can you use your gifts?
In addition to loving foster families, kids who have been abused or neglected need mentors and tutors. They need volunteers willing to advocate for their best interests through Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).
Often when kids are placed in foster care, they have few personal items or toiletries. Churches can collect these items and donate them to the Department of Human/Social Services (DHS) to keep on hand when kids are placed into foster care.
Royal Family Kids Camp
Royal Family Kids Camp is an excellent way for the church to bring hope and joy to kids in foster care. These camps, designed specifically for foster kids, operate across the United States. If one is in your area, support it by volunteering or donating. If no camp exists in your area, consider establishing one. The impact of just one week at camp can be life-changing for a child.
Foster families also need support. Caring for kids who have experienced trauma is tough work. One of Project 1.27’s goals is to help families build a support team made up of friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and people from their church. Support teams provide a range of support like babysitting, driving kids to visits with parents, helping with homework, making meals, housework, yard work, and always prayer.
Biological families also need support. Young moms are not uncommon. Many of them never learned or were shown how to parent or manage a household. Imagine if we provided the same types of support for these moms as we do the foster families! What life-changing kind of impact could you have on the lives of kids and families in your community?
Meeting the physical needs of a family is an excellent place to start. One way to do that is through CarePortal, an online platform that connects volunteers in churches with families. If CarePortal is in your area, considering volunteering or donating. If it’s not in your area, considering establishing a branch in your community.
Hands and Feet of Jesus
Even for families with great support systems, raising kids can be difficult. Now imagine facing all those difficulties without any support—no support from family or church, no reliable transportation. Financially, barely getting by. What better way to be the hands and feet of Jesus, than to come alongside families, providing for physical needs, and beyond that a support system so families can successfully raise their children.