There is probably no greater loss for a child than to lose a parent.
While adults can comprehend the great love of God our Father and that He will never leave us or forsake us, children are often too young or immature in their faith to understand when a Mom or Dad leaves them.
In today’s world, we are seeing a resurgence of orphans. Not because of a Mom dying in childbirth or a Dad losing his life on the job. Instead it is because of abandonment due to the scourge of sin and addiction known as the opioid crisis.
A record number of children are being removed from their homes due to addiction and alcohol abuse.
President Trump just declared the opioid crisis a national emergency as more than 64,000 Americans died from overdoses last year from drugs such as hydrocodone, morphine, codeine, fentanyl, and street drugs such as heroin.
Jesus said in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” If we truly are practicing our faith, then it is time for churches across Georgia to stop turning a blind eye to the burgeoning drug and alcohol crisis that is sweeping our nation. It is leaving behind a swath of innocent victims – children. As Christians we have an obligation to care for these orphans of our time.
This Sunday, Nov. 12, is Stand Sunday or Orphan Sunday. Churches across the country are taking note that we have these orphans in our midst – foster children from all walks of life who are hurt by their parents’ addiction. We need to encourage Christians to step forward and provide loving, stable homes and show these children the love of God.
For if just one family from each church would foster a child, we would take care of the foster care crisis in Georgia.
At First Baptist Woodstock, we have a thriving WeFoster ministry that is doing just that as we partner with FaithBridge Foster Care, a Christian licensing and placement agency. We currently have between 20 and 30 foster children placed with loving, supportive families in our congregation. They care for these children until their parents can be restored to a healthy way of life or, sadly, until they lose their parental rights. In other situations, members support foster parents by babysitting foster children, volunteering to transport them to activities, or counseling their biological parents.
In many circumstances, these foster children are adopted by members of our First Baptist Woodstock congregation.
My wife Janet and I are former foster parents, as we cared for two young girls when we led a congregation in Wilmington, NC. Here in Georgia, officials expect more than 8,000 children to be removed from their families this year. In too many cases they are sent far across the state to find a home that will love them and care for them.
To me it is a spiritual privilege and a spiritual responsibility to serve these children who have been separated from their parents, families, schools, and homes.
There are not enough believers who understand that every person can make a difference. For example, we recently baptized a foster child and his biological mother at First Baptist Woodstock after both the boy and his Mom came to know Christ. This was after his mother struggled through years of addiction. Now the mother and child have been reunited due to the love of God and the ministry of church members.
I am proud to say we have other church leaders also partnering with FaithBridge Foster Care including New Salem Baptist Church in Kennesaw, First Baptist Church of Alpharetta, Northside Church in Roswell, Wildwood Baptist Church in Acworth, and North Point Community Church in Alpharetta. But we need more.
Even if a pastor cannot be a foster parent himself, he can lead other families and his church to this important ministry. We send missions to the farthest ends of this planet yet we have broken families right among us who need Jesus. Let’s ask ourselves: “Do I have a right to be in another country when I haven’t taken care of the needs of my own community – including foster children?”
Whether you volunteer to take a foster child to a baseball game, or a little girl to a ballet class or babysit a foster family or commit to care for a foster child or siblings, showing the love of Christ is what Jesus commands. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:17).