by Mary Snyder
I was writing my book, God, Grace, and Girlfriends: Adventures in Faith and Friendships and blogging for Girls Getaway Cruise and serving as the director of the CASA program, where we worked with abused and neglected children. So, that was my double life—fun lover writer/blogger and director of a program that works with horrendous cases of child abuse. They are two very opposite ends of life—one happy and fun and the other filled with sorrow, sadness, and horror.
Working so closely with foster care gave me insight into a group of people I’d never considered before—foster children. More than 400,000 children are in foster care and many of them grow up in the foster care system. In fact, this year approximately 20,000 children will get too old for foster care and will be sent out on their own.
These are the children who grew up in the system. These are the young people whose parents never could get it together enough to get them back home. These are the children who weren’t adopted. Once out and living on their own, approximately half of these children will end up homeless. Many will end up in jail, become unwed mothers, go on welfare, become addicts, or abuse their own children. Again I ask: “Where’s the church?”
These children have no family and where’s their church family? Who helps them get a job, an education, a place to live? Sure, they have social workers to help them transition, but don’t these kids deserve something more? Who hugs them when things go bad? Who talks with them about the little things in life—and the big things? Who prays for them?
“Where’s the church?”
What if 25,000 churches said, “Let’s reach outside these walls and love one former foster child who has no one.” Consider the impact.
But let’s be realistic. Churches are large bodies of people that move slowly. What if just 25,000 church members said, “I’ll do it”? Consider the impact.
But it’s easy to overlook foster children. After all, most people don’t interact with them on a regular basis. After I left my job working with abused and neglected children, it became much easier to overlook them. I got busy doing good work—leading Bible study, writing Christian books, speaking at Christian events—and I lost sight of the needs surrounding me until the Lord reminded me again with a Facebook update of a former foster care child.
This child is doing well, but she still struggles. Who wouldn’t struggle after five foster homes in seven years? She makes it because a church family cares enough to make her a priority.
“Where’s the church?” This body can answer, “We are here!”
What about us? Maybe you’re not called to foster children. But God has a plan for you and your life. He wants you and me to move beyond the comfortable and into serving His people.
How can we be the church?
Be willing to step out of the comfortable. Are you willing to be uncomfortable? Maybe it’s a physical discomfort like working in the heat to help with a rebuilding. You could be like me and find it emotionally uncomfortable to work with abused children. I spent the first year in tears, but God used my time to show me a need.
Ask God to show you a need. Pray for God to open your eyes to the needs right around you. You will be surprised at what He will show you.
Meet the needs God reveals to you. When God calls you to something, He will equip you for that work. He will provide you with the wisdom, discernment, and skills to meet that need. Does that mean you are all things to all people? No, but you can point people to the resources they need.
When the question is asked, “Where’s the church?” let’s stand together and say, “We are here!”