When God Gives Vision

 

When God Gives VisionHas God ever given you a vision? If he has, it probably started with a burden – something you saw that was terribly wrong with the world. The kind of overwhelming problem that made you think, “we could never solve this.” Fifteen years ago, South Florida news headlines often covered a story about the broken foster care system. Children were removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect and abandonment, and then they experienced more abuse by the very system that was supposed to help them.

The stories kept getting worse, and then, in the late 1990s, God brought together a team of individuals, social workers, pastors and business owners who combined their voices, resources and passion to start changing the face of foster care – one child at a time. This group decided that our most vulnerable citizens had been overlooked for too long, and that it was time for the local church to get involved and help them. The vision for “4KIDS of South Florida” was born when God gave us a mission to provide hope for kids in crisis.

Since that leap of faith, we have learned a lot about vision and seen more than 17,000 kids lives changed along the way. The vision began with the huge problem of children lost in a failed system. There was a lack of trust between the church and the state. People were not sure if we could work together to help kids in crisis. But vision helps us see the solution. In Psalm 25:14, God promises to “confide in those who fear him,” and by serving these lost children, God’s voice has guided the steps of this vision back to a simple solution: a home for every child in crisis!

Simple right? One might think that we could recruit and train great families and place hurting kids and single moms in their care and then be done. But big visions usually encounter big obstacles. Our community’s foster kids are just regular children, but some people still think of these kids in a negative light even though they are the victims caught in the middle of an adult’s mess.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to get people to walk into other people’s messes, and it is very expensive to care for thousands of children in need. Fear of the unknown, state budget cuts, churches who do not want to be bothered, and a lack of foster homes are just some of the obstacles 4KIDS encounters as we pursue this vision. But we will not give up because we know that this problem is solvable if the body of Christ works together. The Bible teaches us to care for orphans and widows in our communities. In Isaiah 1:17, we are commanded, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

Sometimes people are startled when I say, “We have an orphan problem in America.” These children are modern day orphans; they are orphans of the living. They are not across the ocean, they are right here in South Florida. People get involved because they think these children need us desperately. But the truth is that we also need them desperately because they remind us that life is precious and that our self-absorption is often the root of our own disappointment in life.

Over the years, we have learned that the greatest power we have resides in the Christian family. The vision is accomplished each time we find a stable, loving family for each child. Our hope is that Christians from all walks of life and social positions open their hearts to children in crisis.

Because fellow believers have answered God’s call to help these children in crisis, they no longer get out of a police car and wait in offices while phone calls are made trying to find them a home. Now they come into SafePlace, a 24/7 shelter operated by 4KIDS; now the first people they encounter are Christian staff and volunteers, ready to fight for them to have the best chance possible during the hardest days of their lives. And when they leave, hundreds find their way to Christian homes each year.

Though the big problems of domestic violence and child abuse still exist, God’s solution is always greater. We see this clearly in the gospel. All of us were once spiritual orphans – we were unable to help ourselves. But Jesus adopted us at great cost and sacrifice to himself. This is our most compelling reason to help orphans – because we are simply reflecting what Christ did for us.

I believe that as we draw close to the heart of the orphan, we also draw closer to the heart of our great God, because God has a heart for orphans. Take the first step toward a big vision like “A Home for Every Child in Crisis” – advocate for it, and watch what God can do through his people, one person, one church, one family, one child at a time.

Visit 4kidsofsfl.org and follow 4KIDS on Twitter and Facebook to find out more about how you can help a child in crisis

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