At the time I am writing this article for you all I am in the midst of watching March Madness and I have basketball on my mind! By the time you read this article, you are likely watching the NBA Playoffs. In both, there’s a particular moment that has been standing out to me – one of the most exciting parts of the game is when an alley-oop happens. This is when a player catches a pass right above the basket and they can immediately slam dunk the ball. The crowd goes wild! The player was perfectly positioned for the shot and the excitement and celebration is palpable, even on a screen. And there’s nothing as exciting as an alley-oop slam dunk to change the momentum of a game.
Our time to alley-oop
In a lot of ways, during this National Foster Care Month, the Church is like that basketball player, perfectly positioned to catch the ball right above the basket for that slam dunk. The reality is, the State is looking to us to lead the way in caring for kids. They believe we have the answers, even if they don’t fully understand why. In our longer-served areas like Broward and Palm Beach counties, we recently met with the CEO of Childnet, and he is asking us why are we not recruiting and licensing more foster families? And in the new regions 4KIDS has expanded to, Southwest Florida and now Miami-Dade County, these local lead agencies have an unsolved foster care crisis on their hands, and they are passing the ball to us, and waiting and watching. Will this Christian agency and the local Church respond? Will they be the answer?
A history of care
The Church has a rich history of stepping up when no one else will. The early Church exhibited radical intervention and care on behalf of vulnerable children. In ancient times it wasn’t uncommon for people to abandon babies or children if they were unable to be cared for or unwanted. These little ones would be literally left to die of exposure in gruesome ways. It was early Christians who intervened for these children when they had no one else. Christian families would rescue babies and children left behind and bring them into their own family, raising them to know and follow Jesus.
This alley-oop doesn’t catch God by surprise, and we believe that this season is an ordained opportunity for the Church to step up into its purpose right here in South Florida. As Christians, we know that this is a crisis that no one else can solve apart from God. It’s in God’s very nature to care for children and families in this way.
We see this in Matthew 18:12, “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” As the church, we are called to pursue the one. The one child who was removed from his home today in your zip code. The one family who is at their breaking point and cannot continue to put food on the table. The one teen girl who cannot imagine caring for a baby. The one young man who has nowhere to go.
Jesus is in the business of bringing about radical change for the one, shouldn’t we?
If you’re familiar at all with the history of 4KIDS, you’ll know one of our trailblazing couples back in the late 1990’s was Rick and Joan Englert. Joan recently shared this in our staff devotions, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. She said, “At 4KIDS we often ask, What is your ‘Why?’ Why are you serving, why are you opening your home? But lately as I look at the lack of homes we have available for kids, I think the better question might by, What is your ‘Why Not?’”
It’s a challenging question to sit with, but it’s one I pray you’ll open your heart to. What’s your ‘Why Not?’ Why not become a foster parent, advocate, give, serve and care for the kids who desperately need us to intervene? I know when we do this together, we can go after the one in a way that transforms many more lives. Until every child has a home.
Read last month’s article by Kevin Enders at: https://www.goodnewsfl.org/supporting-families-helps-prevent-child-abuse/