November 18, 2013
“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” – Isaiah 61:3b
One sign of a great ministry launch? You leave knowing a lot more about the need in the world, still optimistic that somehow your church can do something about it.
With the launch of Replanted, Resurrection’s new foster care and adoption support ministry, this was absolutely the case.
Replanted (email@example.com) launched Saturday, Nov. 2. Over a hundred attendees had the opportunity to hear from Jenn Ranter, Matt Woodley, two adoptive/foster families, a representative from Safe Families for Children and others about ways to get involved. There were carnival games (free childcare!) for the kids who came and a dessert social for the adults.
This summer I had the opportunity to interview Jenn, who spearheads the ministry, about her ministry goals.
“We really just want to reach out to those families who would like more support in this experience, from start to finish – whether they’re just thinking about adoption or foster care, or whether they’re in the waiting period or already actively a foster or adoptive family,” she said. Replanted offers a monthly support group for foster and adoptive families, prayer partnering, meal sign-ups, and informational sessions. Eventually, Jenn also hopes to start up a mentoring program for adopted and foster kids at Resurrection.
Replanted is in partnership with other churches in the area, and hopes to connect families with organizations like Safe Families for Children. SFFC representative Wendy Payne explained the basic service Safe Families offers: “When families are in crisis, a family in the church takes in the kids for a while before anyone gets hurt. There’s no state involvement or payment. We’re trying to be a voice for kids who can’t speak for themselves.”
One major takeaway from talking with Jenn and from Replanted’s launch night: the church and these kids are made for each other. Why? Because we can start from a place of identification, and because we as the church have a different concept of success. We can identify with the orphaned because we were all once spiritually fatherless –“In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ (Eph
Mike Swihart , who also spoke at the event, said, “In my mind, adoption has always been a very natural way to expand families. As Christians, we are sons and daughters by adoption.”
Throughout the night we heard sobering statistics like these: there are 163-million orphaned or vulnerable children in the world and 100,000 children waiting for adoption. It can cost 25 to 30-thousand dollars to adopt a child internationally, and there are over 3-million cases of child abuse or neglect in the U.S.
So where do we begin if not from a place of faithful obedience to a call upon our lives, rather than slavery to statistics – where do we begin if not from a place of leaving the results up to God?
And yes, this is something we can do, because he cares! As our Compassion Pastor Matt Woodley stated, this issue is close to God’s heart, to our Lord who is a “father to the fatherless.”
Loving with God’s heart means valuing those the world marginalizes. Within adoption and the foster care system, this includes those with special placement needs. Rebecca (MacDougall?) who works with Bethany Christian Services, said that she gets clients who will say something like, “We feel very called to adoption and we’re looking for a healthy baby girl.” But unfortunately, said Rebecca, many children who need foster care or adoption are not healthy, and that requires a lot of sacrifice.
Given that the family is God’s model for discipleship, adoption and foster care are evangelistic. Jenn told us about a 4-year-old girl she worked with as a therapist. Afraid that she would forget about Jesus once she returned to her biological parents, she asked Jenn to pray with her that God would never forget her. “She said she was grateful for her foster family and that they taught her about Jesus. That was her takeaway,” Jenn said.