Within the ministry of 4KIDS we often reflect on how every child we meet represents parents who chose life. Despite their current circumstances, whether they are in foster care or at risk of entering the foster care system, we have the chance to honor that life through compassionate, Christ-centered care. This approach to radically support families who are at risk of breaking down and kids who desperately need a stable home is the love of Jesus in action.
Longtime 4KIDS leader and current VP of Engagement, Tom Lukasik, has a story that always comes to my mind as I think about the sanctity of life.
In the 80’s Tom and his wife Linda were increasingly advocating in the pro-life movement while living in Buffalo, NY. They felt a special calling from God to get involved in this work, but there was a moment where everything changed. While peacefully participating in an awareness campaign on a busy street corner in Buffalo, a young woman pulled up beside them and out of her car window she asked, “Will you be there for me if I choose to keep my baby?” She then motioned to the male driver of the car and said, “Will your church be there for us if we keep our baby?” Before they could respond, her car pulled away as traffic moved on. Stunned by her question, Tom and Linda put down their signs and chose to find a way to truly serve moms and babies. Their search ultimately led them to South Florida as house parents. Over the years, Tom and Linda went on to foster over 50 children and teens.
The Heart of Prevention
Hearing stories like Tom and Linda’s can prompt incredible reflection for each one of us. What more can we do to serve every life that we know God loves so deeply? How can our approach change to be even more effective and reach more lives?
During the beginning of the COVID pandemic and shelter in place orders, we were initially seeing the number of children removed from their homes drop significantly. But with decreasing numbers of kids entering foster care, we also saw increasing stories of severe child abuse from emergency rooms and hospitals across the country. The reality is fewer kids coming into care can mean more desperate situations are going unnoticed and struggling families can fall apart all the more easily. This refueled our fire at 4KIDS to reflect on our mission: to provide hope to kids in crisis. We saw that the hope of prevention needed to become a top priority for kids and families.
4KIDS began partnering with CarePortal, an online platform that connects the church community to real-time child welfare needs. Meeting these needs can help to stabilize families and keep kids from entering the foster care system unnecessarily. As we approach the 2-year mark of mobilizing CarePortal, we can see that over 2,400 kids’ lives have already been impacted with an over $700,000 economic impact across our community. This isn’t just one organization fueling this incredible work, it’s the work of over 70 churches across the 12 counties 4KIDS serves. The church is coming together like never before to reach kids and families in their times of need.
We know it is God’s vision for His church to come together and link arms in these efforts, and we see it happening like never before. We recently hosted a Love Life Event at 4KIDS in October where over 14 ministries came together to dream, collaborate, and innovate deeper advocacy and care for kids and families.
Uniting the church to become a part of the solution reflects the very heart of God. Being in the room at this event with so many different churches and organizations ignited our collective passion to continue to work together and seek more opportunities to gather.
We know Jesus said in John 17:20-21, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me…”
Honoring the sanctity of life can take on many forms, but none stronger than the body of Christ coming together to bring the love of Jesus to precious lives longing for hope. I look forward with great anticipation to continue to see all that God will do through us all as we pierce through the darkness and bring light and hope into these families and lives. If you would like to join our next gathering, please reach out to Ally Harrington at 4KIDS at [email protected] or Tom Walker at Love Life at [email protected].
Learn More About CarePortal. Visit 4KIDS.us/CarePortal.
Learn More About Love Life. Visit LoveLife.org.
Read last month’s article by Kevin Enders at: https://www.goodnewsfl.org/a-message-from-the-front-lines-of-child-welfare/