Our family has had an interesting journey of trying to define what ministry is over the past year and a half. Brad and I both spent years of our lives in Bible and ministry classes with the dream and intent of living on mission in Guatemala. When our little Gideon got sick, it forced us to redefine what ministry would look like for our family. A year removed from all of the changes, it still stings a little when well-meaning people ask Brad if he is ever going to “do ministry” again.
Ministry for our family looks far different than we ever thought it would. We never dreamt that we would be the founders of a non-profit. Yet, we spend much of our time serving foster and adoptive families through Be the Village. We never intended to do ministry from the heart of the Bible belt, but when we realized God was calling us back to the States, He also made it clear that He was calling us back to Kentucky. Recently, God has called us to another ministry that we never planned to pursue: Foster Care.
It’s crazy to say now, but foster care was never on our radar. We knew we were called to serve vulnerable children. However, we never stopped to look at the vulnerable children in our own back yard. We often joke that God had to take us to Guatemala to break us for the children and teens in foster care right here in our own town, but it’s true. As we prayed that God would raise up godly foster families to change the orphan system in Guatemala, He began to burden our own hearts for foster care. We had no clue what was on the horizon for our family at the time, but looking back we see His hand it every bit of it.
But is foster care really ministry? There is not a more intentional round-the-clock way to live out the gospel than to live it out in your own four walls. Foster care is a chance to bring the broken in and show them the love of Jesus day in and day out for as long as God permits. What an opportunity!
What if Christians saw foster care as a ministry and chose to get attached and make an impact no matter the cost? How much impact could we have if we began to see the eternal investment instead of focusing on the potential pain we may face when they leave? We literally have the chance to disciple hurting children in our own homes, yet the Church has remained silent and motionless. Why is that? For so long, I believe that the Church has viewed foster care simply as a means to grow families.
For far too long we have framed foster care to be a venue to grow families, instead of Biblically viewing it as broken children needing someone to step in and love them like Jesus would. When we present foster care as a means to an end, it is obvious that the risk would be far too great and even Christians would shy away. However, when we view foster care as brokenness that we are called to step into, it becomes a ministry. I truly believe that God is calling so many more families in the Church to die to themselves and step into the trenches of foster care.
Mankind was broken, and instead of turning His back, Jesus stepped near. He lived among our brokenness, knowing that we would continually cause Him pain. Oh, and I am so glad that He did! If I am called to be like Christ, then I too need to move near brokenness and not push it away. Will it be easy? Never. Will it be worth it? Eternally.
Ministry may not require me to cross oceans or lead a children’s ministry of a hundred, maybe just maybe it will look a little more like intentional conversations at the dinner table and family devotions at bedtime. My ministry may mean I rock a crying baby in the night or calm a tantruming toddler as he feels like his world is spiraling out of control. But in everything, I get the chance to share Jesus in my own four walls. What a ministry.