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.

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