Our church has been engaged in Adoption and Foster Care for more than ten years now. We believe our calling as God’s people is to care for vulnerable children, giving them hope and a future. Throughout our journey over the past ten years of pressing into this calling, we have seen many families at Mosaic jump into adopting and fostering. Along the way, we have discovered that although this work can be messy, we are invited to partner with Jesus in redeeming the unredeemed spaces of our city and world. One of the spaces that are often overlooked or forgotten when it comes to caring for vulnerable children is the space of foster group homes.
Local Foster Group Home
A little more than two years ago, leaders from a local foster group home that had recently opened in our area reached out to us, asking to connect with us. They informed us that they were planning on having the house parents and kids from the Group Home attend our church on Sundays. Also, for the teens to attend our Student Ministry on Wednesday nights.
As the children and youth started attending our church, we quickly realized we would need to be intentional about how we engaged with them in the Children’s and Student Ministry. We begin to assign a Sidekick volunteer to each of the children on Sunday mornings. Our Kids Ministry works to create an environment that serves every child. We hope to meet kids’ needs whether they have medical challenges, learning differences, are newly adopted or are kids from hard places. If a child needs extra assistance to be comfortable in a children’s ministry environment, we can offer them a Sidekick. Sidekicks are trained leaders who come alongside children. They provide them with one on one attention. Which helps them be more successful as they learn God’s Word and experience His love for them.
As our sidekick volunteers built relationships with the children from the Home, they began to ask what else we could do to come alongside the group home to serve the children in their care. We’ve been able to partner with another local ministry called Sleep in Heavenly Peace. Through this partnership we provide new bunk beds for the Group Home. We’ve also been able to partner with our local Staples to provide the children with school supplies this year. Additionally, we’ve sent teams during our annual church-wide serve days to volunteer on a Saturday to beautify the campus and paint the homes on campus.
Recently the group home went through a shift in ownership and management. With this change, we were concerned about losing our relationship with the children from the group home. Our Sidekick volunteers were asking us what was going to happen. Thankfully, we’ve been able to connect with the new leadership. Which allowed us to continue our partnership with them to care for these children.
Because the ownership is now private, we can bring the church to them since the children cannot come to services during the pandemic. We now take a small group of volunteers every other Sunday to do games, activities, and a Bible lesson at the home. When we showed up the first time at the group home, a young boy, who had been in our children’s ministry quite a few Sundays before quarantine, recognized one of the Sidekick volunteers and ran straight to her. He tackled her with the biggest hug and told her how much he had missed her. It is so exciting to see how a child has tangibly experienced the love of God through our volunteers.
In addition to serving the children at the group home, we have volunteers who are prayer partners with the staff at the home. They pray specifically for individual staff members and have been encouraged to reach out to them regularly. The new owner of the group home has felt overwhelmed with this new venture. We have been able to encourage and support her individually. She is now reaching out to us when she needs help, trusting that we will answer her calls and do whatever we can to help. Building this trust has taken time but has been worth the effort. Too often, churches step in for quick projects or events but do not stick around. It is important to us that this group home knows we are here long-term. That they can depend on us.
Other Foster Group Homes
There are other foster group homes in our community, so we are also reaching out to those. Building a relationship with these homes can be challenging and slow. We are sending a team for our annual church-wide serve day to another local group home for foster teen girls. They have asked us to build raised garden beds and help them start a garden on their property. These simple acts of service build trust and show them God’s love through His people. In time, we hope they will feel comfortable bringing the girls to church services and/or Student ministry. In the meantime, we will support them in whatever ways possible.
As we continue to press into the calling to care for vulnerable children and families, we have seen the importance of wrap-around support from the church for foster, adoptive, and biological families and foster group homes.