What do you do when you pray, plan and prepare for a Foster Care Awareness Night at your church
and nobody comes?
Schedule monthly Foster Care Awareness Nights. Keep foster care on display. Watch God at work-
That’s not the kind of thing you’d expect to see at church during a pandemic. And then there’s God!
Julie and Jon Stephens were interested in hosting a Foster Care Awareness Night at their church because they were spurred on to consider foster care after watching another Project 1.27 family, the Wolgemuths. As Julie describes it, “Seeing foster care on display in actual people’s lives helped me think that maybe we could do that.” After talking to husband, Jonathan, the couple attended a Project 1.27 Info Night in 2017. They walked away wishing they hadn’t heard any of the information because it meant they couldn’t turn away.
“We just took one class at a time, one step at a time. It took us a year, but we trusted God knew what he was doing. We were set up to bring in a kid, help a family in need.” Since becoming certified, Jon and Julie have adopted their first placement and supported their second placement’s move to live with her aunt in another state.
With foster care on display in their lives, Jon and Julie inspired friends Jen and Andy Stef. The Stefs welcomed their first foster placement in 2019, right before the two families began attending Redemption Parker, which Julie describes as a church where members are discouraged from attending as a consumer and encouraged to support each other in pursuing their calling.
As other church members watched both families nurture children and their biological parents, they began getting questions about foster care at church which wasn’t always the best space to respond. When they asked their pastor, Mark Oshman, about hosting a foster care awareness night, his response was, “Our church needs this”.
Unbeknownst to the Stephens, the Oshman and Dugas families, who planted Redemption Parker in 2018, had already been praying about foster care ministry. Brad and Sandie Dugas had moved to Colorado to care for a widowed family member and her children. Pastor Mark and wife, Jen, adopted one of their daughters and had previously attended Colorado Community Church which birthed Project 1.27. Sandie shares, “As a family and as a church family, we had been praying about how we could be more involved in the Foster Care System. When the Stephens and Stefs approached the church asking if they could host a Foster Care Awareness night, we were so excited that God had brought just the right people to start this ministry.”
Pastor Mark encouraged the congregation to get involved by weaving foster care into his sermons. Announcements for the Awareness Night were posted on the church website and shared during the service. Members were encouraged to see foster care as a way their lives could reflect the gospel. While no one attended the first night, the second meeting, 15 people came. Stories were shared. Questions were answered. Ideas for getting involved surfaced. Julie describes the monthly meetings as a way to “take some of the fear out for people being called to foster care and help them explore ways to get involved.”
Sandie and Brad Dugas weren’t in a place to foster or adopt but came to a few meetings and began praying for a way to serve. After watching the Stephens welcome a newborn straight from the hospital and going to another community’s foster closet for needed baby things, Sandie thought, “Hey, we could do that!” Sandie began asking questions about what was needed, organized a space for the closet and then hosted a shower, giving an opportunity for other church members to contribute. The congregation responded with enthusiasm and generosity. Soon the closet will be open to the community.
When asked how we could pray for the foster care closet, Sandie responded, “Pray that the foster closet will be a useful resource for foster families in the community. Pray that many would see the love of Christ in this small act of service and feel loved and cared for.”
As the monthly awareness meetings continued, other attendees found their own ways to serve. Jon Stephens shared this story.
We met a couple in their twenties who don’t have kids; she’s a nurse, he’s in medical school. After learning about the rewarding and challenging work involved with fostering, the husband pulled me aside to share that if we ever need any help, they’d love to watch our kids and give us a night off. He gave me his phone number, then called back a few days later to repeat the offer. This young couple found their call and immediately followed up.
Foster care on display at Redemption Parker is inspiring members to pursue their calling in foster care. As Julie put it, “We’re not going to guilt people to foster, just help them see what they ARE called to do.”
Interested in putting foster care on display in your church? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
Click here for information on launching a foster care closet >