Many times in church we are overlooked not because we are sitting behind the women with the big Sunday hat; but because we dont belong to any of the parents in the congregation. Unfortunately, sometimes the church is another place youth and young adults who have been impacted by the Foster Care system lack a sense of belonging. God word says he will place the lonely in families; I believe the family God meant was the church body. On a personal journey to find a sense of belonging and community in the church along with many others this letter was composed.
17 Years old I entered the Foster Care System. I felt the Lord tugging me to go back to church. Only this time I was going solo. I didn’t really think there would be a difference but there was. I belonged to no one and I felt it. If you were the daughter of so and so you were loved and accepted. Being the daughter of “Nobody” always made me feel disengaged and forgotten. I felt the favoritism for the kids who grew up in the church and for those whose parents were “important” according to the congregation. Sometimes the sweet usher would ask me where my parents were sitting. Or when the clock struck midnight to New Year the pastor would tell everyone to find your family and go hug them. Those very moments I would remember I was solo. Many times youth and young adults in the congregation who have or been in Foster Care are overlooked, and underserved? If we can’t find belonging in the place Jesus resides we will never find it.
We are grateful for the clothes drives, the endless pantry items, Thanksgiving feast invitations, gifts during Christmas but our souls are hungry. We are longing for more than packaged goods. We are looking for someone to look into our eyes filled with mommy and daddy wounds and be the spiritual support needed. Forget the material things we need to hear about God’s Love, His redemption, forgiveness and how we are daughters and sons of God. We need to know we belong in the kingdom. We want to know about the promises God made for us. We dont want fake smiles filled with pretend hope we want to be met by unconditional love and commitment. We desire community. We crave to sit around a dinner table with faces that won’t disappear after the function is over. We want your support unveiling the gifts God placed in us. We hope for the touch of a nurturing mother and an affirming father. We need the church to focus in on donating time, patience, love, stories of God, friendship, and relationship instead of perishable goods. I know and believe in the church becoming more foster care inviting. Here are some suggestions:
- Just say the words: Start talking about Foster care in conversation with your congregation. If a youth in Care heard you even mention foster care in your sermon it may open a door for them to share about being in care. Or they may feel at ease.
- IntentionalThoughtfulness: If you find out youth from your congregation is in Foster Care be sure to remember their name, birthday, and call or text them to check in. Just remembering someone name expresses love. Also, noticing their absence letting them know you missed them last Sunday is bigger than you know.
- Educate Yourself: Learn as much as you can about foster care. There is this book I love called Foster Care and Faith by John DeGarmo. Such a great book that teaches how to support the entire foster care community. From foster parents, social workers and youth an much more. Click this link for the book
- Learn about Foster Youth In The Community: Go to your local human services center and learn the needs of your community.
- Build a Prayer Team: Not many people are praying for youth in foster care or who were impacted become devoted to praying for them. You dont need to know their name pray for them as a whole or just be holy spirit led.:
- Create a group: Find out who is passionate about foster care in your church and bring them together. The word of God says when two or three are gathered God is in the midst. God will give you ideas and strategy.
- Be welcoming: From an outsider perspective sometimes it seems people are unwilling to invite others into their already established circles. Be open to making new friends.
- Create Fellowship Opportunities: Most people who have been impacted by foster care struggle with creating opportunities for fellowship. You can make low-cost to no cost at all small gathers for youth to attend.
Thank you for reading Treasures. If you are a church who would like to brainstorm ideas about creating a foster care friendly church feel free to write in the comments below and I would be delighted to speak with you. I pray this letter inspires your church to become a place youth in Foster Care can feel at home and have a sense of belonging.
You are loved more than you know. Thank you for reading Treasures.