We have this tradition at 4KIDS where every Christmas season we gather all our foster and adoptive families for big Christmas parties in our different regions. One part of that Christmas party is our gingerbread house competition. We break out into groups and decorate all of these gingerbread houses, which with hundreds of kids in one room, you can imagine, is quite the sight!
Home in the Warmth
One of my first years going to these Christmas parties as 4KIDS’ President, there was a young boy who eagerly recruited me to be on his gingerbread house team. His little brother was in a wheelchair and together, with their dad, we made a great team. The next year at the same party he sought me out to be on his team once again. He knew he belonged somewhere, that there was this sweet tradition he could count on and that he was a valuable part of a team, all through something as small as making gingerbread houses together. Year after year we made these gingerbread houses, and it had me thinking about what countless kids feel this time of year.
A place to belong
Right now there are kids looking for their place to belong. Through a sea of people, they are looking for someone they can count on. They see it in Christmas movies, in grocery store advertisements, in their school hallways, and countless other places. They see that Christmas is filled with families, but what happens when yours isn’t together? It is so easy to miss these kids because we don’t know their names or see their faces, but they are all around us in our community.
This Christmas season we celebrate that over 429 babies, children and teens were able to find a home with a 4KIDS Foster Family this year. In their time of need, they were met with compassionate love and care. They had a place to belong.
But in the midst of that joy, we are still heavily burdened for the 434 kids in our community who are living in shelter and group homes instead of with a family.
One lost sheep
It makes me think of the parable of the lost sheep, where in Luke 15:4 Jesus asks, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Just like Jesus we cannot lose sight of even one of His precious children.
It’s that same heart that made the little boy I befriended at our Christmas party feel so special. In a room filled with hundreds of kids, he knew he was seen and cared for, so by the time the next party came around he knew he’d have a place to belong.
Our heart’s desire
You may have never faced the hardships these kids are facing in the foster care system, but we all know that feeling, that deep desire to belong, to be loved, and to be sought after. It’s part of what makes this time of year precious to people from all walks of life. We’re drawn to the warmth of our families, to the light of the Savior, and to the big and small traditions we can count on.
As we think about the homes and the families that we are blessed with, and we look out at this world filled with pain, war and division, we see the power of opening your home, offering that warmth, and being that light in a child or family’s life.
This Christmas Season I pray you look for one who needs a place to belong, whether that is pulling up an extra seat at your table, picking out a present for a child who longs to feel special, supporting a family looking for the light, or praying about opening your home to a child in crisis. There are so many ways we can extend hope, homes, and healing before the year is over. Don’t miss your chance to go after a lost sheep this year.
Learn more at 4KIDS.us/programs/foster-care
Read more articles by Kevin Enders at: https://www.goodnewsfl.org/author/kevin-enders/