Today I had a conversation with a childhood friend. This friend, who will remain anonymous, sets on the opposite spectrum as me in almost every way. He is an avid atheist, who is pro-choice and adamant about abortion rights in general. Now, I want everyone to understand that this post has nothing to do with abortion, but context is king, so bare with me for a moment. He contacted me today because there is a current movie that he had read about that was making news that deals with the issue of abortion from the pro-life view point. He knew I was a safe space were he could hash out his thoughts with a pro-lifer without being ran over and labeled a baby killer. Let me be clear here…. I do not support abortion at any level and he knew this, but he did and still does feel comfortable enough to speak to me about issues and will also listen when I need him to as well.
While most of our conversations are friendly, this one was anything but. My friend did not hold back, he was angry and I was the best target he could find. For the first time ever he wanted to really make it personal and attack both my faith and me as a person. During the course of the discussion this man decided that not only would he speak on abortion, but also the lack of care that Christians have given to the those that are not aborted and instead are placed in the states custody. He knew that I was a missionary and that I had dealings with orphanages in Kenya and this is where he chose to attack. He said, ”Why do you care so much about abortions and African orphans? Why won’t you take care of those right in front of you? Your greatest failure as a Christian, as a man, is the fact that you talk about life, but you don’t support that life once it leaves the womb.” His comment hit close to home and broke my heart. While some of you will read this and think this man has no idea what he is talking about, let me give you a few stats that give credence to exactly what he spoke of:
• There are over 500,000 children currently in foster care.
• 45% of those children are in foster homes where there is no relation.
• 19% of those children are under the age of 1, 60% are under the age of 8
• Only 49% of those put in to foster care are reunited with their primary caregiver per year.
• There are over 107,000 foster children currently available for adoption.
These numbers make it obvious that the Christians need to step up their game.
I will admit that this man and I do not speak as often as we would like and he had no idea that we currently had three foster children in our home and are waiting for an opportunity to adopt as we speak. Despite this his argument is one that I have heard before. Christians and Churches failing to adhere to James 1:27, “Pure and undefined religion before our God and Father is this, to look after orphans and widows.” The Church must step up and do more for the “least of these.” We should be helping parents adopt from the foster system. Equipping all families for success even when times are difficult. Providing family and individual counseling for those who need it. Caring for foster children and their families should involve more than just prayer (while this is very important)it should also involve hands on actions from the Church.
All of these things went through my head very quickly and I wanted to shout them all back at him. Before I could say anything though, my mind went another direction. Why is it just Christians that should be doing something? Should we simply care for children because our religion tells us to? I will be honest, I did not take these children into my home because the Bible told me too. I took them in because I wanted a daughter. I took them into my home because they have no where else to go. It is human decency. Yes, Christians can and should be actively involved, but so should the rest of humanity. Why is religion the worlds cop out for orphans and children that are in need ( I admit this is not an absolute there are plenty of non-religious people who are involved in foster care, but that was not the argument that was put forth.) I asked my friend if he was helping with the issue. Of course he was not. I asked if he planned to, and he does not.
Here lies the problem! Everyone, on both sides, wants to argue, but neither side wants to do much about it. I believe that it is time to move away from the ideology that someone else will or should do it. I am that someone.You are that someone. Now lets start acting like it. It is not easy, but nothing worth while is. Except the challenge and get involved.
Let me take this moment to encourage everyone who reads this to get involved. That doesn’t mean you have to become a resource family. There are many other ways to help. Find a family who does foster and ask if they are in need of anything. Provide help for parents who have had children removed. Yes, they need support and help as well. Become a volunteer at your local school, church, or Boys and Girls Club as this will put you in direct contact with children in the foster care system. As the number suggest there is no shortage of children who have been placed in foster care, but there is a shortage of those who are willing to do something about it. We should really stop arguing and start taking action!
To my friend who I know will read this, I love you dearly! Keep your head up, I know this conversation hit you just as hard as it did me. I pray for you daily! I believe we can solve this problem if we will choose to work together!
Kassie and I would also love to come share at your church about our experience in foster care and how you and/or your church could help! If interested please let us know by emailing us here or by contacting us on facebook or twitter.
If you are looking for a way to help a foster family and the foster children who live with them click here. My wife and I are closing in our garage in order to better facilitate the foster children we currently have with us and those that will come in the future. This is link to a fundraiser that will help us offset the cost.