We like things that are logical. Step one. Step two. And then step three. God designed much of life to work like this. Systems. Processes. Order.
On the flip side, God seems to also regularly shake things up and do things His own way, bringing all the pieces together beautifully…even when they don’t happen exactly how we would plan or predict.
Church partnerships with FaithBridge are often formed when people at a church learn about the need for foster care ministries and want to start a program within their own congregation. Conversations are had. Meetings are scheduled. Launches happen. Training occurs. And then children and families who need help are helped.
It didn’t exactly happen that way with His Hands Church in Woodstock. They started backwards and ended up at the beginning.
Their introduction to the Community of Care® and foster children was through a family in their congregation who was on the troublesome end of an encounter with the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). This family had several children, and the church wanted to support them.
“We’ve got to help this mom,” said lead pastor, Justin McTeer. “We’ve got to help these kids.”
Efforts to keep the siblings together or in close proximity of each other were made as families quickly went through training and did all that they could to surround the struggling family with a Community of Care®. This situation had clearly sparked a fire and connected the dots to create a foster care ministry at His Hands Church.
And each of those dots connected revealed more of how God was already working in the hearts of families to beat in unison.
Justin began his search to find families to help by praying. He prayed for the struggling family and for others who could step up to help them. And this day that began in prayer ended up being a day filled with five phone calls to help this one, particular struggling family.
His second phone call was answered by the husband of a woman who had mentioned foster care to him. His wife had actually missed the first phone call Justin made because she was praying, asking God to speak to her husband about being a foster parents. He got the call – literally – while his wife was in prayer and was hanging up from the phone call with Justin as his wife walked out of different room in the house.
The third phone call was made to a dad who cut him off mid-sentence, before Justin could even ask if him if they could help the struggling family. You see, thirty minutes before Justin’s call, this man’s wife asked him to look up FaithBridge and what he thought about fostering…with no knowledge about the situation at the church or Justin’s search for families to help.
The forth phone call was to a family who had reached out for a pastoral reference to be foster parents, so their name was on Justin’s mind.
And the fifth phone call was to a family who ended up knowing the children who were in the struggling family already because their own went to the same elementary school. The parents had thought about being foster parents two years ago and had come to the conclusion that they needed to care for this family before the phone rang.
These connected dots not only closed the loop for one particular family, who has since moved to a different state to be near relatives, but also opened Justin’s eyes to see how their church could live out their mission to “love people to Jesus” in a new way.
“Loving people is a pretty intense thing,” said Justin. “It means you help them. You tell them the truth. You help their kids. You empower them. You teach them. If you love your community, you have to be involved. We take that really, really seriously.”
They have God-sized prayers and vision to care for children in their community.
“The church should be able to handle this situation,” said Justin. “That got me really excited. This is a problem that is solvable. It takes a group of people willing to step up. It’s eye-opening to think, ‘we can do this.’”
And stepping up they are. Even though they haven’t officially launched the foster care ministry at their church, they opened their doors to host training events for FaithBridge, inviting both people who attend their church and others in the community who need training to become approved foster or respite parents and volunteers.
How might God surprise you by bringing foster care ministry to your congregation? You never know how He’s illogically putting the pieces together to care for foster children and families in your neighborhood!