This Sunday, November 12th, is Stand Sunday – an expression of Orphan Sunday. Stand Sunday is an initiative through The Christian Alliance for Orphans…a day designated to bring awareness to the crisis that is foster care in our country.
Each day across the United States there are near 428,000 children in foster care. In the state of Ohio (my state) there are roughly 23,000 children in foster care. Do these numbers blow your mind?? They do mine… Stand Sunday is a day calling…urging believers to STAND for children in foster care. To pledge to be a voice to the voiceless. To be the hands and feet of Jesus to the fatherless.
I’m not here to tell you that you must become licensed and bring children into your home…we aren’t all called to that. But we are all called to and CAN DO something. Below is a list of 3 easy, painless things YOU can do to stand up for children in foster care…
1. PRAY – This one seems so obvious but yet is such a discipline. Prayer is powerful…prayer moves mountains…brings about miracles…opens the eyes of the blind…prayer is our pleading petition to the only One who can truly flip the foster care system upside down. When foster care seems too big…too broken…too dark to step into, to push to change…we can have HOPE that when we fall to our knees, fall flat on our face in defeat and tears…our Heavenly Father is hearing our heart’s cry. He is already there. He has gone before us. This broken mess is of no surprise to him and he has a plan…a perfect one to redeem all that is broken and lost through his son Jesus. We can lay our troubles, our worries, our fears, our frustrations, our anger, our broken hearts, our screaming cries to come, Lord Jesus, come at the foot of that Cross that breaks every chain of foster care, that gives life to what seems too far gone, that redeems and restores all that is broken in this world. We may not see it in our lifetime…but God…He is faithful and just and these 428,000 children are HIS. Pray for them by name. Pray for the workers, the judges, those in decision making positions, the birth families, the foster families. Plead for them. Stand up in prayer.
2. MEALS – This one is invaluable to foster families. I cannot tell you how appreciative we have been of family, friends, church family, etc. coming around us during hard weeks/months of foster care and providing meals. Coffee, lunch, dinner, gift cards. As a bio mom and foster mom of a special needs baby the last thing on my mind some nights during our hard months was what to make for dinner. It was the last thing I wanted to think about let alone actually do…and believers stood up. They stood up for our little man in foster care and they brought food. And because they brought food…I could take extra moments to give special one-on-one time to our daughter…because they brought food, I could hold that baby a little longer and bond with him. And we will be forever grateful for their great love, encouragement, and support for us during those times. Find a family in your community who fosters and set up a meal train for them…you have no idea how BIG of a gift that is. Stand up with meals.
3. SERVE – This term is so broad and it’s meant to be…serving can look very different depending on what your gifts are, so be creative. There are SO many ways to serve children in foster care but I will share a few examples.
- Become an approved caregiver. In our county this means providing your Name, Address, Birthdate, and SSN. The county does a quick background check and as soon as you’re approved you’re able to babysit. This is invaluable to foster families because (again in our county) you MUST be approved. Think about all of the child care options you have for your kids…friends, family, church family…when you have a foster children in your home, all of those “typical babysitters” must be approved. Offer this to foster families you know…they may kiss your feet!
- Offer transportation. Last school year, I was running to Children’s Hospital with S every Thursday morning for a doctor’s appointment. This made it impossible for me to get our daughter to pre-school on time AND to the doctor’s appointment on time. Our neighbor and church friend STOOD UP for foster care and offered to drive our daughter to school every Thursday morning. Such a simple gesture…such a simple way to serve…but it was a HUGE gift to us as a family.
- Donate items. Often times, foster families need a lot of supplies (that they don’t have) when they first receive a placement. While we have had all boys for all 3 of our placements, that’s not always the norm. Because we’ve had all boys all around the same age ranges, we’ve got quite the stock pile of boys clothes ranging in size from NB to 24 months. But do you know where a lot of that stock pile came from? People like YOU who decided to STAND UP for the boys in our home in foster care. Friends, friends of friends, old friends, new friends, strangers who heard about our boys…all offering to donate supplies. This is huge, guys. Huge. As foster parents, we do get clothing vouchers…but it’s never enough to truly give them everything they need. We wouldn’t have been able to provide for our boys in all the ways that we were able to financially if it weren’t for the generosity of those around us willing to gift us clothing, bibs, shoes, blankets, coats, toys, etc. Stand up by serving.
Everything I’ve listed here is doable…by ANYONE. Anyone can pray. Anyone can bring one meal. Anyone can donate one thing. You CAN stand up for children in foster care. Standing up doesn’t have to mean you become a licensed foster parent…it can be a seemingly “smaller” gesture…but one that is HUGE in the eyes of a foster parent.
So this Sunday…I encourage you…I urge you…STAND UP. We are all called to…we all can…stand up.
How will you pledge to STAND for children in foster care? I encourage you to share on social media by participating in the empty chair posts…