Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
There's that saying that goes, "those who can't, teach." Well, today I want to change it and say that , "Those who can't, support". That's the Christian way. Paul advocated for this when talking to the early church. He suggested that those who were unable to go for missions could still participate in the work of Christ by supporting missionaries. There is something glorious that happens when the church wraps around people who are actively participating in ministry. It's one of the ways that we show the church our true colors. Jesus himself told us that our love for one another would show the world that we are His disciples. As a recipient of the wonderful love of a community of Christ, I can attest to this.
I remember feeling especially vulnerable and overwhelmed 9 months ago when we brought home our newborn son after 5 days of labour (that's a story for another day). There we were, in a flat in london, feeling isolated from our family in Kenya, when we got a text. It was a friend from church saying they were popping by to drop us a ready cooked meal. Over the next few weeks, different people from church dropped off home-cooked meals, giving us just the break and sustenance we needed during that crucial time of caring for a newborn. At the time we needed it the most, our church family had wrapped around us like real family and cared for us. How beautiful it is to experience God's love through his chosen people.
Things like this have become part of church tradition. We, as a body of Christ seem to have learned how to care for newborn parents in this beautiful way. This makes me wonder if we can find another thoughtful and caring way to care for fostering and adoptive parents among us. How can we be there for these parents who have answered the call of God to open up the boundaries of their families to love children who have had difficult pasts? Research has shown that having a strong social support system is an essential factor for successful fostering.
I'll say what you're probably thinking. Where would we even start? Do you have any ideas, Dorothy? Well, I dont' have any ideas but if there is a parent of a care-experienced child in your congregation, I'm sure they would be able to give you an answer if you asked. My hope and prayer is that we can be the strong and supportive community they need. That we can help our children be warm, welcoming and compassionate to the care-experienced children who join our communities through these families. How much more richer would the ministry of these families be if we (you and I) took steps to support and care for them? This month, as part of foster care fortnight, we will be focusing on a 'fostering community'. We will hear from carers and their families on the different ways we can be part of their fostering community. I invite you to come on this journey with us as we explore how we can wrap around foster carers and support them. Let us say to our carers, "Let us walk with you as you walk with them."
“Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord.
God's call and promises can often leave us feeling rather overwhelmed. Even when the promises are a thing of beauty and restoration, they still require some faith on our part. Faith enough to trust that His blessings add no sorrow and that He will sustain us where he sends us. Here in this passage, Isaiah was talking to Israel in captivity, talking of how God would restore them. Isaiah uses the image of a barren woman whom God is inviting to enlarge her tent to make room for the children of blessing she will receive.
As Christians and a society we don't talk about infertility too often. We also don't talk about the longings of single people who have always desired children and family. There are many people for whom, due to variuos life circumstances, their desire to have children has gone unfulfilled. Some, even now, after years of longing, may have given up. Others maybe still pray about it every night, hoping to pour their love into a child. Oh the deep pain of seemingly unanswered prayer.
But God... One day, God remembered the woman's prayers. He invites her to start preparing for the blessings of children whom she will receive. God asks her to respond to His promise by making room. So what does this have to do with fostering and adoption? Is the desire to have your own children a good reason to foster and adopt? Well, yes. People choose to foster for a myriad of reasons, one of them being that they love children and have not been able to have some of their own. It should always be about pouring love into children and being ready to give them what they need. Children in care have different needs because of their past experiences.
Not everyone is suited to foster or adopt. However, some of you might be. It could be the vision of family that God has planned for you. Maybe God has been nudging you towards fostering but you're unsure. Maybe you're scared of the assessment process. Or you aren't sure you have what it takes to do it. Maybe you are scared of rejection after years of disaapointment. May I invite you to take a step of faith? To dare to dream once more and make room for a different conception of what family could be for you? I want to invite you, today, to start to make room. Like the woman in this passage, renew your joy and hope. Burst into song. Make room in your home and your heart for a new possibility. And finally, take that step of faith and contact us to discuss fostering with us. This message is also for those who have children. Maybe God is calling you to expand your family and home to include other children. Will you make room? I invite you to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 0191 5656 423. Someone from our team is ready to talk you through this magnificent step.
“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. "
If you want to know how Christians should live, pay attention to how God describes himself. As those who are made in His image and called to be like Christ His Son, we can be certain that what is close to God's heart should be close to our heart. We should care about what God cares about.
In Deuteronomy 10:17-19 we see God describing himself as one who loves foreigners. He even goes on to describe himself as one who gives them clothing and food. In other parts of the bible God specifically calls his people to care for foreigners in their midst. In the deuterocanonical laws he ensures that the foreigner is protected and cared for. You can see this in how Boaz treated Ruth, allowing her to glean from his field even though she was a Midianite.
So, what has this got to do with fostering and adoption? Well, right now, as I write this, there are numerous conflicts and wars going on across the world. The most recent is the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Ordinary people are now facing incredibly unjust and horrific treatment. Their homes and loved ones are being torn apart and destroyed. Families are being torn apart and children are losing their parents. We can and should pray for this situation. We have a powerful God who is able to intervene. We can also consider a very wonderful and practical way to help children who are fleeing the conflict and find themselves in the UK. We can open our homes to give some care, stability, and love to unaccompanied asylum seeking children.There are many children in our care system who have fled unimaginably horrible circumstances and now have to start afresh in a foreign country, separated from everything and everyone they knew. It is our hope that Christians will rise to their calling to love and care for these dear foreigners in our midst. Perhaps you can do this by fostering a young refugee.
Fostering is a way of providing a safe, welcome, nourishing and supportive environment for children whose homes are no longer capable of providing them what they need. If you'd like to chat to someone about what God may be laying on your heart about fostering, give us a call on 0191 5656 423 .
What comes to your mind when you think of a calling? A pastor, a priest, a missionary? Perhaps you think of someone who serves in church like a worship leader or sunday school teacher. When I think of calling, I am reminded of Moses. Possibly because he reminds me of myself. You can read about his wonderful encounter with God in Exodus 3. To recap, Moses had been raised as a prince of Egypt within the household of Pharaoh but in the course of his life, he killed an Egyptian and ran away from Egypt. For 40 years he lived a simple life, herding sheep in the desert of Midian amongst his wife's people. Then one day he encountered God through a burning bush. God had heard the cry of His people who were enslaved in Egypt and was calling Moses to go to Egypt and ask Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. Moses felt underqualified and overwhelmed by the task.
How often have you felt like that? Overwhelmed and underqualified? Perhaps the very thought of fostering makes you feel that way. Perhaps you've been struggling with this nudge that you've been feeling for a long time. The good news is that you're not alone. The heros of our faith in the bible and in real life have often struggled with their call. However, the one thing that rings true for Moses, for the patriachs and even for you, is that God equips those He calls. Take a look at Moses. When he worried about his speech impediment, God sent Aaron to help him. In addition to that God promised to be with him and to empower him to fulfill what God was calling him to do.
It's the same with you. If God is calling you to foster, you can take great assurance in the fact that God has specially gifted you for this task. Not only that, but through the amazing services of Cornerstone, you are guaranteed that our team will be your "Aaron", here to walk with you through it all. We provide 24/7 support from qualified social workers. We also pray for our carers and provide regular training and support meetings.
But what if you still feel underqualified? What if you feel like you're "just a mom"? What if you feel that your ordinary simple life cannot match the extraordinary task ahead? Well, Moses too asked "Who am I" that I should do this. And he worried about people doubting his calling. God responded by using Moses' simple everyday object, his staff, as a powerful tool for miracles. When you read about the amazing miracles that Moses went on to do in God's name, his staff was often a feature. Today, I ask you, what do you have in your hands? It could be your parenting skills. You may feel like "just a mom", but a mom is exactly what a child needs. That steady compassion, those nutritious meals you make, clean laundry, a safe home, cuddles on movie night... these simple things that you do are exactly what children in care need. Some children have never experienced these things.