Foster Care Initiative
The Lord has called Lifeline Children’s Services to care for and disciple the fatherless, the orphan, birthmothers, and adoptive families.
From 1981 until September 2009, the heart of Lifeline had been displayed through birthmother counseling and ministry, adoption services both internationally and domestically, and international orphan care. Before 2009, the foster care statistics throughout the state of Alabama had numbed the hearts and minds of the staff at Lifeline. There were over 6,000 children in Alabama requiring foster care and of those, 1,500 resided in the Birmingham Metro area. A huge deficit existed for these children, because in the same area of Birmingham, only 300 families were actively licensed as foster parents. This left children unable to receive necessary intervention or placed into overcrowded foster homes or residential facilities that did not meet their needs.
C.T. Studd, a missionary from England who ministered throughout Asia said, “The light that shines farthest shines brightest at home.” So as we considered the call of God’s Word in verses such as Isaiah 1:17, James 1:27, and Deuteronomy 24:19-22 which command God’s people to care for the fatherless, we knew that He was calling us to help equip the local church to care for America’s foster children. This movement within Lifeline officially began September 2009 as a response to a sermon series preached at The Church of BrookHills by David Platt.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:17
Lifeline’s response to the foster care crisis is to provide the foster children in need of care in Alabama, with homes that are motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Homes which are led to model and disciple children during their time in care. Lifeline seeks to provide homes, which are not over-crowded, allowing sibling groups to remain intact during their time in foster care. We equip families who are more stable due to specialized training and support, thereby; decreasing the number of times a child may need to change foster homes. And ultimately, Lifeline supports DHR, Alabama’s state child welfare agency, by allowing their social workers to focus on child protective services, while engaging and preparing the Bride of Christ, the church, to focus on the care and concern of Alabama’s 6000 plus foster children. It’s the call of the church to also minister to and disciple foster children’s birth families to create healthy environments for reunification.
We must remember that a triad of interests exists within any foster care situation. Obviously, the interest of the child is first and foremost. And then secondarily, two other critical parties exist; the foster parent and the birth parents. The goal of foster care in the United States is not adoption or permanent fostering, but first reunification within the birth family.
This reunification goal is the pinnacle of a ministry that seeks to restore the American families, not through new self-help or 12 step programs, but through the Gospel of Jesus Christ displayed through the local church. We have been humbled to see countless stories of local churches not only loving and caring for vulnerable foster children, but also effectively ministering to the child’s birth family. Stories abounds where the Gospel message is made clear and the birth family sees transformation of the heart, the soul, and the mind.
“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:15-17
Therefore, the sweet beckoning call of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord led Lifeline to awaken the church in Alabama and elsewhere to get involved in the transformation work of foster care. This call is for the entire body of Christ. Young children and teenagers can love on foster children who grace the preschool, children’s ministry, and youth programs. Young adults can become licensed to provide respite care or to mentor birth families who have lost their children through many unwise decisions. Older men and women can minister to those called to foster by showing the hospitality and encouragement of Christ through prayer, providing meals, meeting practical needs, and helping with transportation needs.
Lifeline’s call therefore is clear – we are not called to be the hero, but to equip the local church to holistically get involved in the messy business of foster care, so that ultimately our Lord gets all of the glory.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 6:15
Has the Lord put your family in a place to foster a precious child in need and in so doing disciple them in the Gospel of Christ? Has the Lord burdened you with his command in James 1:27 to care for orphans in distress?
If so, partner with Lifeline today. Visit lifelinechild.org to donate to the cause, to apply to adopt, to sign up for a trip through our (un)adopted ministry by visiting orphans in need, to apply to be a foster parent for a child in US foster care, to volunteer in one of many ways for the sake of orphans, and ultimately to partner with us as we seek to take the Gospel to the fatherless.
“He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the LORD your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear.” Deuteronomy 10:18-20
Oh beloved, will you allow God to use the Gospel through you to impact the life of a child? Please do not hesitate to give Lifeline a call because we are here…
On behalf of the orphans and fatherless.