In the last 25 years, 4KIDS has been privileged to impact over 30,000 lives thanks to the way the Lord has moved and mobilized the body of Christ and so many in the communities we serve. When impact reaches such great heights, it can be easy to lose touch of the crisis at hand. There are too many children and families who are in crisis today, who are waiting for someone to help them. In many ways, the crisis is growing, strengthening and ever-changing.
Our community’s crisis
Right now, in our immediate community of Broward and Palm Beach County, there are simply not enough licensed foster homes for kids in need. The same is true for the Treasure Coast counties and Southwest Florida counties where 4KIDS also serves. Every day there are still kids being turned away, simply because 4KIDS doesn’t have enough foster families. And when the Church doesn’t rise up and meet the need, these precious children are sent to less than optimal situations. Based on our current reports, 4KIDS needs 39 new foster families in Broward, 19 more foster families in Palm Beach, and 10 more foster families in the Treasure Coast, just to meet the average monthly demand. This last year 98 kids on average were turned away from 4KIDS each month.
And I know these numbers likely seem so achievable to you–you might even be thinking, “Why can’t 4KIDS just license those additional foster homes?” The reality is fewer and fewer families are opening their hearts and homes. We are not alone in this trend. This is a problem not only plaguing the Christian church and faith-based foster care agencies, but this is also affecting most all providers across the country. Nevertheless, the 4KIDS team has been watching movements across the country where foster care crises are being met in radical ways. And it makes me wonder, why not us? Why not now? It’s time to be bold again– kids’ lives are on the line.
A movement has swept across Texas and is now spreading across America and the greater Assemblies of God (AG) church community. “The AG Foster Care Network conference was an accumulation of years of relationship building between Superintendent Rick Debose and myself to birth the North Texas District’s Family First Orphan Care Ministry,” said Bishop Aaron Blake.
“What started as an invitation to Pastor Rick Debose, who was the NTD District Superintendent at the time, has shifted into a national movement,” Bishop Blake continued. In October, 4KIDS was able to attend this conference in Texas and see first-hand the comprehensive national strategy organized by Bishop Aaron Blake and other leaders in this denominational space.
Bishop Blake shared, “Orphan care to the church is a ministry of family reconciliation. We the church are called to care for the orphan according to James 1:27. We are also called to be ministers of reconciliation, 2 Corinthians 5:18. Reconciling a child to family and a family to God. Everyone is not called to foster and adopt. But everyone is called to do something as it relates to vulnerable children and families. If we can reach a child, we can help change a destiny!” Bishop Blake is referencing a Bible verse well known and spoken in our circles, James 1:27 that states, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (NLT).
Bishop Blake started Stand Sunday in his church to raise awareness around the need for foster parents in his local community in Brownwood, Texas. Stand Sunday continued to grow beyond just his church, and soon the community had more Christian foster families than there were kids in foster care! This incredible abundance was born out of Bishop Blake’s boldness and his church’s community’s obedience to live and serve like Jesus.
Watching this movement has prompted me to really reflect on this work and calling from God. In my quiet time lately, I have spent time thinking about how each of our lives are continually and daily sanctified when we live like Jesus. We know our eternity is sealed through our faith and trust in Him, but our daily lives here on earth can begin to look more like Jesus’s life when we begin really living, loving and serving like Him.
When we serve these kids and families, when we bring the light of hope into the darkest places, we get to see and experience a glimpse of Heaven.
So why not South Florida?
I believe in you, in this community. I believe in your hearts and in your compassionate love. I pray that you would consider this crisis more in your daily life, in your conversations with others, in your prayers, and in your future, that you might seek out ways to bring glory to God through radical love for children in crisis so that they all can come to the saving knowledge of the One we serve.
Who’s ready for a revival in South Florida? I am.
“And whoever welcomes one such child in My name welcomes Me.” Matthew 18:5, NIV
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Read last month’s article by Kevin Enders at: https://www.goodnewsfl.org/coming-together-for-life/