I’ll never forget the first night we had a child placed in our home. Her caseworker dropped her off with a few bags full of her belongings. She was wide-eyed and quiet but didn’t seem scared. I was taken aback by that. She was almost 3 years old. Just one year older than my youngest at the time. The worker started off by apologizing for her hair. Explaining that she had recently found scissors and cut her own bangs. I hadn’t even noticed until he said that, but sure enough, her bangs were barely hitting her forehead and they were jagged all the way across. It added to her cuteness. I tried my best to make her feel comfortable on her first night in her new home. Showing her toys she could play with, introducing her to my kids, asking her what she’d like to eat for dinner. I knew she’d been through a lot in her short life. She and her older brother had been taken away from their parents several months prior and were placed in one of their relative’s homes. As happens with many cases, this placement was disrupted, and she was coming to live with us while her brother went to another foster home. I couldn’t wrap my head around what this young girl must be thinking and feeling inside. I kept thinking of my own children and how they would react if put in this situation. No child should have to go through this. After tucking her into bed that night, I sat with her until she fell asleep. I silently prayed over her as I rubbed her back. The prayer that I found myself praying over her was one I hadn’t heard or even thought of since my childhood. It was the prayer that our pastor would pray over the congregation every Sunday at the end of each service.
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace.Numbers 6:24-26
This was the blessing that the Lord told Aaron to pray over the Israelites. When I was a child, this prayer was just my way of knowing that church was just about over. I didn’t think much of it or what the words meant back then. But as these words flooded back into my mind I knew they came straight from God and that this was His blessing for this sweet girl as well.
I love the imagery of this prayer. The idea that the Lord is looking toward each and every one of us. His face shining upon his people and blessing them with his presence, grace and peace. It reminds me of going from a cool, air-conditioned room and stepping outside into the sunshine on a summer day. That feeling you get being enveloped in the warmth of the sun. In the warmth of His love.
As the Lord walked me further into the world of foster care, both through fostering and through serving with the ministry of Fostering Hope, the weight and magnitude of this prayer became more clear. Our God desires to shine His light upon all of His creation. Not just to the young victims of a broken world, like our sweet girl, but also to her parents who were struggling just as much, if not more, than she was. Where God’s light shines, darkness must flee. I believe God’s question to each of us is: where can you shine My light?
I’ve been blessed to have a front-row seat to see the many ways God has equipped His people to shine His light in our local foster care community:
- Families have signed up to become respite providers to give foster families much-needed breaks. This is so important as many foster families quit after the first year.
- The Caring Closet, which provides clothing, toiletries, toys, shoes and other items for kids in foster care, is always blessed with an abundance of donations from our community. We love to see the look on kids’ faces when they get to pick out their own clothes and choose a few special toys.
- Freezer meals made by community members have on several occasions brought foster parents to tears as they come to realize the love and care their community has for them and their children.
- Volunteers supervise visits between children and their parents with the ultimate goal of redeeming and restoring families and relationships.
- Groups make snacks and cards for foster care agency workers, encouraging them to keep going on the hard days and reminding them that what they do makes a difference.
It is exciting to watch what I believe is a God-ordained movement that is stirring across the church for the local foster care community. Not just in our community but in communities across the country. God has opened doors for relationships to flourish between churches and state foster care agencies. Agencies are seeing the value in allowing the church to come alongside and partner with them in serving children in foster care, foster families, biological families and even agency workers. Churches are stepping into their God-given role of caring for today’s orphans. Understanding that to truly care for and serve these children, we must also support those who are important to them and their success.
There is a place for each of us at this table. Whether God is calling you to foster or to find a way to serve a local foster family, it all makes a difference for His kingdom. How is God calling you to shine His light in our local foster care community?
Written by Sarah Burch, Executive Director of Fostering Hope.
Fostering Hope provides hope, support and resources to children in foster care and their families. They partner with the local Children’s Division as well as local churches, businesses and organizations to provide for the needs of children in foster care and their families.
Learn more about Fostering Hope by listening to the latest episode from Christ’s Church Impact Podcast.
Ministries that offer mercy to all especially those who are victims of injustice.