When I was 17, I had a burning desire to be a missionary. In fact, as a High School Senior I spent several months living and volunteering at a home for girls at risk in Osorno, Chile. I fell in love with the 40-some girls that I came to know and learned invaluable lessons about how to make a difference in their lives.
When I began to process that I would be leaving soon, along with the missionary couple that had served at that home for over 6 years, I became concerned about what would happen once we had gone home. I visited the lead pastor of the local church that owned the children’s home and presented a few ideas for how his congregation could become involved in the lives of these kids.
His initial response? He asked if I could just send some new missionaries from America.
In that moment I knew, that while international missionaries have important work to do, the greatest long-term impact on a community happens when the local church is actively loving its neighbors.
I looked him in the eyes and said, “These girls are Chilenas. They are yours to take care of.”
Today, 13 years later, that same pastor’s son is the director of the home, and several other congregants are on staff as psychologists and assistants. Congregants who lead businesses have donated playground equipment and building materials to improve the home. Members who own large vehicles take turns picking up children for church on Sundays. The youth group is deeply involved, loving on the kids, and building long-term relationships.
This story represents the beautiful transformation that can occur when local churches use available resources to provide wrap-around support to vulnerable children in their own community.
On any given day in America, there are about 400,000 children in the foster care system. Many others are at risk for abuse and neglect. There are over 240,000 local churches. In Canada, there are nearly 60,000 children in foster care, and 30,000 churches.
What if every church in the U.S. and Canada became actively involved in foster care? Some are called to foster or adopt. Others can provide hands-on support, according to their gifts and resources. Everyone can offer prayer support and encouragement.
Local church members, these children live in our communities, and they are ours to take care of!
Don’t know where to start? Our Hephzibah62:4 team can help! We’ve created some simple, new resources to help inspire and engage your church during Foster Care Month in May. Access them here.
Together, we can provide more than enough for each vulnerable child.
Anika Ojeda, Administrative Assistant
P.S. Need more direction or want to explore how to partner with Hephzibah62:4? Access partnership information or schedule a coaching call here.