Sunday, September 30, 2012

Safe Families for Children

Imagine being a single mom who has recently lost your job.  You have 3 children under the age of 5, and you desperately need to get another job before your rent is due in a couple of weeks.  There's nobody who can take care of your children, and you cannot afford daycare right now; so, you take to the streets looking for a job in stores, restaurants, wherever you can find to go.  You have a choice to either leave your children alone in your apartment while you go job-seeking, or you can take them with you.  You love your children and don't want to leave them alone, so you opt to take them with you.  Yet you find that nobody will hire a single mom with 3 children in tow.  Frustration mounts, groceries need to be bought, rent and bills are coming due.  

Really, what would YOU do?  

Bethany Christian Services used to receive many calls from parents just like the one I described, wanting help.  Because Bethany had no such ministry to help with this particular need, they had to say, "I'm sorry.  Unless your child has been neglected or abused, we cannot help you."  Then, Bethany decided to do something to help these desperate parents who were in temporary crisis.

It is called SAFE FAMILIES FOR CHILDREN, and I'm quite excited to introduce it to those of you have never heard of it.  Tonight we went to a meeting where a sweet lady from Bethany Christian Services passionately introduced our orphan ministry team to this truly amazing aspect of their services.  

Safe families for Children is not about foster parenting, and it is not about adopting.  It is about being a host family stepping forward to help families who are in temporary crisis.  It is Biblical hospitality, where a host family temporarily cares for the children until the birth parent gets back on their feet (i.e. gets a job, saves enough money to put a deposit and first month's rent on an apartment, pays off medical expenses, has drug rehab, etc).  Most children stay in their host families' homes for 35-45 days, though some stay for shorter or longer periods of time...all depending on the arrangement made between the host family and the birth family.  The birth family voluntarily seeks the help of Safe Families, and the host families voluntarily offer their home to care for the children.  Because it's all done on a voluntary basis (no court orders, etc), a sweet bond is allowed to grow between birth families and host families.  It's all done in love.  The love of Jesus...    

At the Safe Families for Children website, there are videos that give a view into how safe families work.  It is a precious ministry for both the birth parents as well as the children.  I encourage you to look into it personally as a choice in orphan ministry, and I especially encourage you to take this to the leaders of your church and introduce this as a ministry your entire church can do in carrying out James 1:27.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Connecting Across the Globe

New Horizons for Children had a fund raiser, where for a donation of $50 to their ministry, we could send a gallon baggie filled with goodies for our host child.  The New Horizons staff and volunteers took these baggies to Ukraine and Latvia when they went to interview more children for their hosting program a couple of weeks ago.  

We sent  Sandija letters, cards, song lyrics, material for sewing, lollipops, gummy bears, tights, dental floss, squiggly shoe laces, batteries for her mp3 player, gum, pistachios...and more.  

Today we were blessed to receive some photos in our inbox.  Sandija's roommate has periodic access to email.  She wrote us a sweet note, saying that Sandija loves us and that she enjoyed her goodies that we sent.

Here's a momentary smile...excited to hold her bag of gummy bears...

And yet, sadness in those eyes...

For all the ups and downs of the hosting period, we wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.  Even if she chooses not to be adopted, she will always know that there's a family in this world that loves her.  That's something that cannot be bought with money.  It goes down into the very depths of who she is.

And now it's time for a new group of children to be selected for hosting during the Christmas season.  Please consider giving of yourself this Christmas to invest in a child's life in a way that is bigger than you can possibly imagine.  Please see New Horizons for Children for details.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Big Decisions for a Teenager

What would YOU do if you were a teenage girl from Latvia who absolutely loved your American host family and were offered to be adopted by them?  Sounds simple, right?

Put yourself in her shoes for a moment...  You DO love your American host much so that you told them they are the first real family you've ever had...and it has been your lifelong dream to have a family who truly loves you. 

And yet you also love Latvia for all its beauty and it's familiar food and language.  You have birth family scattered across your homeland.  You rarely see them, but you have dreams of reuniting one day.  Whether they are real dreams or pipe dreams, it doesn't matter...still dreams of the heart.  

And you have freedom.  Freedom to dye your hair any color, any time.  Freedom to wear your lip ring without rules. Freedom to have a boyfriend that nobody has to approve.

The fact is that, although adoption means the priceless gain of a forever family, it also means loss.  And as a teenager, you have the large weight of the choice.  

Look at one small example: 
* To stay in the orphanage means you can go to bed late at night, after a day spent doing whatever you want to do.   There's nobody to impose rules on you, and yet there's also nobody to tuck you in or tell you that they love you.  There's nobody to wash your sheets and make sure you have fresh pj's.  
* To be adopted means you will have lost your freedom to roam the streets, go wherever you feel like going, and go to bed late after hours of watching whatever you want to watch on TV.  And yet you are tucked into a clean cozy bed, kissed goodnight and showered with love you've never experienced before.

Yes, adoption involves both gain and loss.  And you, at an immature age, have the weight of that decision.  How do you think you'd answer when asked if you wanted to be adopted?

It's quite possible that you'd say exactly what Sandija said: "I don't know."

Our last day with Sandija before she left for Latvia