James 1:27 - Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, ...
If you are like me you may read verses like this one and feel overwhelmed. There are so many people in this world suffering. So many broken, hungry and in need. You may turn your head when pictures of crying, bloated bellied children covered in flies come into your line of vision in ads or on TV. Not because you don’t care, but because you do! You may keep your eyes straight ahead as you drive through the Downtown eastside as you pass the squalor and depravity. It is a lot to take. And as one person it is difficult to feel like you can do anything about it. So when you read the myriad of verses in the bible commanding us to care for those in need around us, you may feel stuck.
Because November 12 is World Adoption day, this week at Westside we have an emphasis on Orphan Justice. Please keep reading because my goal is not to make you feel guilty, rather to encourage you to take up opportunities you may not have been aware of to fulfill the command Jesus gave us to care for the vulnerable.
One incredible opportunity is through being a Foster Parent. For centuries it had been the Church who primarily cared for orphans. It has only been more recently that the government has taken over. But that doesn’t mean we should step back! We need to set an example and be a light in all the dark places of this world, including the broken system.
There is a family at Westside that are setting an amazing example in this: Aaron and Kveta Rose and their three children, Owen, Charlie and Lucy! This past January their family got approved by the Ministry of Children & Family Development to care for children under 12 months old. I had the opportunity to sit down with Aaron and ask him about it.
Me: What do you think when you hear the word orphan?
Aaron: A child without family to care for them. I think vulnerable.
Me: So what do these children need?
Aaron: Stability and love. Not receiving these things even from infancy can and do affect the child for the rest of their life! They need physical touch, security, consistency and most of all love. And they need parents who point them to Jesus.
Me: So Aaron why fostering?
Aaron: The seed was planted a long time ago, I just wasn’t aware of it. My mother was constantly making a place at our dinner table for people who needed family. She was so caring and hospitable, especially to international students whose families were far away. Also in trips overseas, in India and other countries where I visited orphanages. That was when I really felt my father’s heart develop and a desire to care for orphans grew in me. Initially Kveta and I were thinking of international adoption. After all Kveta had written a book on adoption; Kirabo: A journey of Faith, Love & Adoption. But then we discovered there is a great number of orphans here in BC! There are many children in foster homes waiting to be adopted. That is when we got connected with the Ministry and learned there is a great need for Foster Parents as well, especially for teenages, children with special needs and infants. Many of the children in foster care are “Temporary Orphans”. Their parents are unable to take care of them properly for a time. Once we were aware of the need it was clear for us that becoming Foster Parents was a step of obedience we had to take.
Me: What was your initial response to the idea? There must have been so many obstacles for you. What were some of them?
Aaron: My first reaction was, no way! It is too hard, too messy, too much! There are too many unknowns. There are so many negative stereotypes. The kids in the system are difficult at best! How could you take a child into your home, love them and then have to say goodbye? I thought, it’s not a good time for us, with three children under 6. Then I realized it will never be the “right” time. There will always be a good reason to not do something. But it is always a good time to be obedient.
Me: So what would you say to someone’s whose response is “I could never do that…”?
Aaron: Fostering is not a spiritual gift. It it will be hard, but God will provide. There are no guarantees with any child; biological, adopted or foster, and yet we can have peace because that is all in His realm.
Me: Does it bother you when people say “I could never do that.”?
Aaron: Yes and no! That was my first reaction too. But I’ve realized that Fostering is not about you (or me). Caring for the orphan is what we are called to do. I just hope that people who feel called to it don’t use that as an excuse.
Me: So do you have super power?
Aaron: (laughing) I do. Compassion.
Me: Would you say then that we are all called to Foster?
Aaron: No. There are other things people are called to, and lots of other ways people can help! There is Respite Care for the foster parents through the Ministry. And anyone can come alongside a family who is fostering and find lots of ways to help them.
Me: Like with meals, gift cards or helping out with their biological children.
Me: What about the people who maybe are called to Foster or Adopt specifically but are resisting. What advice would you gave them. How are they to discern the calling for themselves?
Aaron: Honestly, prayer. Just ask God. Let people around you know you are feeling led in this direction and ask them to pray too.
Me: I guess a person would have to look at their reasons to not do it and see if they are based in fear. A few final questions. What about your own kids, how has it affected them?
Aaron: They love the little guy! We talked to them about it frequently before and as we went through the home study process. They are crazy about him, and he loves them too!
Me: So constant dialogue is important. Keeping them as a part of the discussion?
Aaron: Exactly. I want this to be normal for them. So they grow up being concerned with how they can serve others inside and outside of the home. How it affects them is not a reason to not do it, but rather a reason to do it!
Me: What good has come from it so far? Aside from the obvious opportunity to walk in obedience?
Aaron: I genuinely enjoy baby K. He knows me. I get to give this beautiful little human being a safe place to live! Also the relationships we get to develop with others in this community. To be a light to them too. I tell my kids all the time, there is deep joy in obedience.
Me: Any final statement you want to share with your fellow Westsiders?
Aaron: There are a lot of challenges that go along with opening yourself up to this world, but don’t let that be a hindrance! God IS going to equip you. It won’t be easy, but it will be good.
So you see there are ways that we can serve the orphans in our own province. We may not be able to help them all, but what if we open up our home to just one. Or find away to come alongside those in our community who do have the ability to do it even if you don’t. Can you cook a meal, take a child to the park, give a little money, say a few words of encouragement, or pray?
What is the first step? To take a step!
If this has been the catalyst to cause you to investigate foster care first steps, visit:
1. Check out the Ministry of Children & Family Development's website
2. Attend an info session
3. Fill out an application
4. Do a preliminary Interview
5. Go through a Home Study
If you would like to talk to someone about fostering, Aaron & Kveta would be happy to meet with you and answer any questions you have. Please email email@example.com.
Melissa Menzel is a community group leader at Westside and is a gifted hairdresser in the community. Melissa is married to Matt who is on staff at Westside Church.