Staying open to foster care

God only ever uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Don't doubt what He can do through you.

Like everyone else, during this quieter time of work, I am doing ‘admin’ (luckily for me I am someone that loves being organised and admin!). I was re-reading Fostering Hope’s preparation for fostering books, Reframing Foster Care by Jason Johnson and Ready or Not by Pam Parish. These books are filled with wisdom, encouragement, and Gospel truths about why we should step into foster care and caring for vulnerable children. As well as being aware of the costs of this step in our marriages, families, and communities.

Stepping into the hard, stepping into the needs around us will come at costs, BUT it is what God wants us to do and it forces us to trust Him. It forces us to seek Him more, rely on Him more, read and study His word more, be vulnerable and seek counsel from Christian brothers and sisters more, and receive His mercy, and ultimate find joy.

He tells us to love the people He puts in front of us and walk into the plan He has for our lives that may lead to earthly sacrifice, hardship, and pain but ultimately His joy mercy, and love for eternity.

How do we know what is God’s plan for our lives? As someone that is a ‘doer’ I have never been one to sit and wait on God for a plan, but kept moving forward praying into situations, praying for doors to be opened and closed, and being open to who God is putting around me. However, I never would have thought five years ago when we took our first foster care placement that it would lead me to being an advocate for vulnerable children, be the actual person asking Christians to open their Bibles and see God’s mandate to open their homes and hearts to the most vulnerable members in our community, and be the actual person trying to inspire church leaders to take up this mandate too. I didn’t set out to do this, I still feel so massively underequipped, unskilled, and unwise to be doing it and this fear can paralyse me sometimes, but the need is massive, the call is clear, and we need Christians to be stepping up.

What is God calling you to do? Who is God putting in front of you? What is that niggling prayer, worry on your heart? Jason Johnson on page 57-58 of Reframing Foster Care says

Let me be as honest and encouraging as I can possibly be: if you keep thinking about it, talking about it, and praying about it, that’s probably a sign that you would be great at it and just need to jump in there and do it… At the risk of sounding unspiritual, allow me to suggest this: while the decision to follow through with involvement in foster care is certainly not appropriate for all it definitely is for some, and perhaps the most spiritual thing you can do is stop praying about whether you should follow through and just do it, choosing to believe that the costs you’ll incur will be worth it for the gain a child may receive.

What is the thing God is asking you to do? I encourage you to, live aware to this need, keep praying about it AND remain open to how God may be whispering an answer. So often we pray about something and then keep busy, if we do this, we risk missing the obvious sign God is putting in front of us or if we see a response to the prayer, we ask God again! I encourage you to live a life flexible enough to be ready to hear from God, see a need, and step into it. As Christine Caine puts it in Undaunted (page 174),

It’s so easy to stay locked in a selfish cycle of my time, my objectives, my plans. But God asks to transform you know His image: to see what He sees, feel what He feels, love as He loves (174).

God tells us to love the orphan, the fatherless, the vulnerable, and to not hinder children coming to know Him. He adopts us into His family and He tells us to do the same. He tells us to find our identity in Him. If you are someone who Jesus laid down his life for, well these kids and their families need to know the invaluable worth of being fully and unconditionally loved just like you. If our personal sense of identity is strongly rooted in the Bible, in God, in knowing Jesus laid down his life for us, then we have the courage and strength to move forward, even when the costs are high because that’s what people like us do (adapted from Reframing Foster Care, pp 55-56).

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