Will you stand with children in need?
Over the last few years, like many churches across the world, Westside has set aside one Sunday in November to draw attention to caring for vulnerable and orphaned children. We continue to set aside this Sunday each year to emphasize God’s instruction and invitation to care for these children, and we are so encouraged by how God is working amongst our church body to equip us to open both our hearts and even our homes to these children. A number of individuals and families are in the process of adopting or becoming involved in fostering and our church benevolent fund has a percentage set aside to financially support adoptive families.
Many churches are now calling this Sunday in November “Stand Sunday,” and it comes out of an amazing story that needs to be shared far and wide. In 2004, just prior to preaching a Sunday sermon, Bishop Aaron Blake was overcome by the need in his community of Brownwood, Texas for foster families. As is the case everywhere, there were more children in need of a family than there were registered foster families. And so, unplanned, he told his congregation of this heartbreaking need.
He asked his church: Who will stand with me to support abused, abandoned, and neglected children in our community?
It was meant to be more of a thought-provoking question than one that required an immediate answer, but after a moment of silence, one woman stood up in the back of the church and said, “I will.”
And then another person stood up. And another. And another.
This community has gone on over the course of 12 years to do what no community in North America had yet done - they now have more families who are waiting for a foster child than they do foster children waiting for families.
Often when we are challenged by someone to participate in caring for vulnerable children in need of temporary or permanent families, we are overcome with guilt and sorrow at their circumstances, for many of these children have experienced great tragedy and trauma at a young age. Some have been neglected while others were born unplanned and need a safe place to live while a member of their family prepares to welcome them home.
But we must not let the sorrow of their circumstances dim the light of the gift that is children. It is a gift to care for a child, to establish a close, safe, and intimate relationship with a child. Doesn’t your own experience point to this? Each one of us was once a child, and we likely can recall relationships with adults that were instrumental to who we are today.
When we are invited to Stand for children in foster care and children who are waiting to be adopted, we are being invited to consider the immense privilege of loving a younger someone who has been “fearfully and wonderfully made” by our Father. Have you ever considered that standing up for such children is a gift to be received and not a duty to be undertaken?
The disciples once rebuked a crowd who led their children to Jesus so that he may pray over them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Let them come to me. Let them come. Children are worth Jesus’ time. He sees them. He values them.
Do you share God’s view of the value of a child? Is spending time with a child worth your time? Have you ever considered that investing in a child would actually serve to bless you and enrich your life?
Children, since they are people, are not easy. But there is something different about building into the life of a child than there is building into the life of an adult. Children and youth are going through immense emotional, relational and mental growth as their brains continue to develop. This is why time spent with a child is so precious.
Consider: for a baby or young child to receive affectionate touch is more important to their brain development than nutrition or schooling. In other words, a hug goes farther than a plate of vegetables.
Consider: one healthy and stable relationship with an adult for a child who has an unpredictable home life can positively affect every relationship they have from that point on.
Consider: over half of the young people being trafficked on our streets have come from the foster system.
Consider: how can you be involved today to change the statistics of tomorrow? Register for our info session on Sunday Dec. 8 at 1 pm to learn of the various ways you can “stand” and support vulnerable children and youth - by intentionally praying for these children and the agencies that care for them, to volunteering with an agency, or exploring the possibility of fostering or adoption. You can also find additional information on fostering and adoption at wchurch.ca/AdoptionFosterCare.
Children are not easy. But they are a worthwhile investment of our time. Will you stand with them?
Kveta Rose serves as a Community Group and leader of Women’s Bible Study at Westside. She is the author of Kirabo: A Journey of Faith, Love and Adoption. Kveta is married to Aaron who has been on staff with Westside for the past 12 years. They live in Vancouver with their four young children.