You know those stories you look back on and can so clearly see the hand of God moving? In the midst of these kinds of stories, we typically have no idea the kind of impact divine timing and simple obedience can have. As we enter Child Abuse Prevention Month this April, I can’t help but think of the lives that have been touched through the heart of prevention.
I am sure you’ve had one of these “unplanned” meetings that you look back on so clearly as God’s orchestrating something divine. That’s what happened when I first met Adrien Lewis from the CarePortal team at a Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) conference several years ago. That unplanned meeting led to us visiting CarePortal in Kansas City at the end of 2019. After an incredible visit and fervent prayer, we knew God was calling 4KIDS to bring CarePortal to our community, but we couldn’t have imagined what would happen next.
At the beginning of 2020, we were getting ready to roll out CarePortal and before we knew it, COVID began. Launching a new program in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic was not something we planned for, and it was easy to question if the timing was right. Simultaneously we started seeing removal numbers plummet. Kids weren’t entering foster care at a typical rate. There was as much as a 40 percent decrease during the pandemic compared to the prior year.
I can so clearly remember being on a state-wide call with leaders in the child welfare space, hearing everyone’s relief over these numbers and pausing to wonder if this sudden, sharp decline could mean kids were in trouble. Soon after, we started reading and hearing stories from across the country begin to pop up; kids were ending up in emergency rooms with some of the most severe trauma doctors had ever seen. Abuse didn’t just stop during the lockdown; it was actually getting worse. Reports of kids with multiple fractures, head trauma, sexual abuse and even death were the truer reality for too many children.
Healing Through Prevention
It became more evident than ever that countless families were at their breaking points, not just with abuse rising, but with poverty and joblessness plaguing so many of our local families. So, with God leading our way, 4KIDS launched CarePortal in Southeast Florida in the thick of it all. Because of CarePortal’s ability to bring people together, and most importantly because of the tremendous hearts of our church community, families were given support and care.
As the rest of the world focused inward, what I saw was our church community focus outward and start giving generously to kids and families in crisis through CarePortal.
CarePortal is a digital platform that connects real-time community needs to the body of Christ. So government agencies and organizations that work on the frontlines with at-risk families get to submit specific needs to CarePortal, and people in partnering churches get to see those needs and respond.
Oftentimes it is tangible items like a toddler bed or baby essentials. Sometimes it’s needs like a single mom who needs help paying her electric bill. For people to see the church meeting their physical needs in a time of crisis provides the most incredible beacon of hope. And it’s not just shining the light of Jesus to these families, but often to the staff who enter the needs into CarePortal. One woman shared at a CarePortal event, with seven different agencies represented, that entering needs and seeing people from the church meet them time and time again has, “restored her hope in humanity.”
We know James 1:27 calls us to care for widows and orphans, but it also tells us in a way that is actionable – it says to GO to visit widows and orphans in their distress. CarePortal is putting action to the church in a unique and powerful way.
Scott Platter, CarePortal executive director, shared, “We believe collaborations are most successful when partners bring complementary capabilities to a shared goal. This is precisely what we’ve experienced in our partnership with 4KIDS, where their expert work to bring hope, homes and healing to Florida families is undergirded by our connective technology, all to bring glory to God while engaging His Church in the work. We can’t wait to see what the next five years holds!”
In partnership with CarePortal, 4KIDS has recruited 848 response team members locally at 78 local Church partners.
Over 2,700 children have been served to date.
And within the next months, we will eclipse a $1 million collective community impact made since we launched CarePortal here in November of 2020.
I will leave you with this recent story from CarePortal that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. There was a single mom here in Broward County who had a lot of different needs. A support worker from a local agency entered all of her needs into CarePortal, thinking it was probably too many needs for all of them to be met. Every single need was met by a local church. The 8-year-old son of this mom was overcome by the generosity and said, “I saw all the stress that my mom was in, and I thought I might take my own life. But the fact that this community met all these needs for my mom, I want to know the God that they worship that they’d do all of this for her and I.”
As I praise the Lord for bringing His Kingdom work to our community through our strategic partnership with CarePortal, I invite you to learn more and to get into His story.
Visit 4KIDS.us/CarePortal to learn more and get involved.
Read last month’s article by Kevin Enders at: https://www.goodnewsfl.org/from-faith-the-size-of-a-mustard-seed/