By Kate Borders | Director of Holistic Care
Our northern New Jersey newspaper reported that a 4-year old girl was found dead in her Brooklyn, New York home. Her mother was arrested on charges of assault and endangering the welfare of a child. The mother called 911 herself after finding her daughter unconscious, but the medical examiner said the child was under-nourished and that marks on her ankles indicated she had been tied up...probably to a small bed in the corner of the mother's room. The mother was also charged with the possession of crack cocaine and marijuana. The little girl had two brothers, 5 years old and nine months. The last sentence of the small article that reported on this tragedy reads: "The other children were placed in foster care."
My heart is broken for the little girl whose life just slipped away. In a city of such affluence, she simply wasn't well-cared for and she died. And my heart breaks for her brothers. Their young lives, lives that will never be the same again as their world was just shattered, their lives were summed up in one sentence. "
The other children were placed in foster care."
One sentence, a paragraph all by itself. Grammatically it reads like an afterthought. The words haunt me and I can't stop thinking about those little boys.
One of the (many) reasons the words are haunting... in theory I could do something to directly care for those boys.
One of the things that I most appreciate learning through my work with World Orphans, and that I find most challenging, is that you don't need to have a lot and you don't need to have all your ducks in a row to care for children in need. I am humbled, challenged, and inspired by my brothers and sisters I have met around the world through World Orphans partnerships who are spending themselves to care for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children. And I want to follow their example.
Some of our partners are young parents giving up the privacy of their own home and time alone with their biological children in order to raise orphans in a church-based children's home. Others are families who are living very sacrificially to bring children into their already-full home. Then there are the pastors who have grown children, work full-time jobs, and spend the rest of their time shepherding small churches and caring for orphans. Those are just a few examples of people living lives of servant leadership so that children are cared for and their communities are impacted by the love of Christ.
These individuals seem to be some of the most sacrificial and at the same time most joyful people I have ever met. And I believe they are setting an example for us.
I know there are differences between America and the developing world. I know there is a lot of red tape and paperwork involved with caring for children who are not your own in America...but I don't think that should stop us.
Often times when I tell people about World Orphans the response is something like, "it's great that you are concerned about children around the world, but what about the children here in America?" And to that I say, "amen!" Through my work with World Orphans I feel increasingly passionate that it's a both/and situation. I believe God desires for us to have a heart for the nations, to be a part of what He is doing around the world. AND...I believe He desires for us to reflect His love and the truth of the Gospel right where we live. We can do both.
And for those of us who live in America, the reality is that children die because people neglect them or because people beat them. There are children who need homes and we can do something about that. I know the foster care system is messy, I know it's hard...but I find myself drawn to it. I want my home to be the home those little boys go to when their sister dies and their mom goes to jail and their dad is not around.
I know it will be hard. I know they will have issues. I know I don't know what I'm getting myself into. I know I don't really know what I'm talking about because we haven't done it yet. But I am excited! I'm excited for the day when I can join my brothers and sisters around the world in sacrificially opening my home to care for orphaned and abandoned children.
And I'm asking you to consider it. Consider what it looks like to be aware of and involved in what God is doing around the world, and right in your community. It won't be glamorous, it will be hard. It won't be easy, it will be risky. But as a Christian living in America I can't think of anything I would rather do than be in relationship with brothers and sisters around the world - supporting and encouraging them, and take care of children who don't have a family.
So just consider it. I know God calls people to different things, so I know it's not what EVERYONE is called to, but I think more of us are called to foster care and/or adoption than dare to consider it. And if you don't bring children into your home you can still be supportive and encouraging to those who are. What does it look like for you as an individual and your church as a community?
So as you are drawn to be a part of the work God is doing around the world to care for orphaned and abandoned children...let us know. I can tell you that the World Orphans Church-to-Church model is an awesome and exciting way to be involved and would love to tell you stories of how the Gospel is transforming lives. And I hope in a few years we are doing foster care and I can tell you about the ups and downs of caring for orphaned and abandoned children in America and tell you more stories of God's great love and faithfulness.