Ministry Focus: Heritage
Curriculum Writer: Danny Busch and Monica Busch
Big Idea: God has equipped the church with a unique and surprising gift to accomplish His mission – unity. God designed the body of the church to truly be together (not just in close proximity, but close connection), functioning together as one body to serve His world. Each person in the body is then uniquely equipped to serve a function of the church. What if God’s response to the injustices we see and experience in our world is to work through the local Church? One of the areas where Bay Area churches are coming together to meet a tangible need is serving vulnerable children.
This weekend we get to hear from Dave Carlsen. Dave is the lead pastor at Neighborhood Bible Church and a representative of Foster the Bay. Foster the Bay is a coalition of various Bay Area churches working together to solve the foster care system in Silicon Valley.
Key Passages: Romans 12:4-14; Ephesians 2:12-13; 2 Corinthians 3:5-6
Ministry Focus: Hundreds of Thousands of Children in Foster Care right now (including 7K children/teens in Foster Care in the Bay Area. (https://www.californiacasa.org/bay-area/) Brokenness is widespread among foster care children. Foster care can be a part of dying daily. When we think of denying ourselves and taking up our cross (Matt 16:24–26), many of us do not think that mundane life is what Jesus had in mind. Though this passage is often preached in relation to missions, Jesus says, “daily.” Surely, He knew that included changing diapers of a stranger’s baby, taking a meal to a foster family, and more. How would Jesus respond to these children all around us? Whose life is improving because of our faith?
We were foster parents for about 2 years and learned more in those 2 years than we might ever be able to articulate – even writing this in some sort of consolidated form is extremely challenging. Over those 2 years we fostered a 2-day old infant for 5 months, a 2 ½ year old and 18-month-old for a 4-day weekend and twin 1-year old girls for a year. Before we jump in too far, let me tell you a little about how we got here.
We always knew we wanted to adopt. Somewhere along the way we learned about the dire need for loving homes in the foster care system – at one point, several years ago now, there were over 1,500 kids in Santa Clara County alone, and only 250 available homes (this is in addition to the kids already placed in foster homes). We knew at that moment we wanted to get involved and still hoped that maybe one day we could adopt through foster care.
Fast forward a few years, our youngest was 2 and we felt it was the right time, so we started the process to become foster parents. The process was one that all prospective foster parents go through, it took about 9 months for us, taking required classes, filling out applications, interviews, home studies, home modifications, etc. all with the purpose of ensuring kids are going to safe and loving homes.
One of the things we quickly learned is that there’s nothing natural about foster care – it’s not a part of God’s design for humanity, but because we live in a fallen world it’s a reality. The good news is we have an amazing God, our Father, who is able to redeem any broken situation. David wrote about this in Psalm 68, “Sing to God, sing in praise of his name…A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing…”
All the kids we had in our home eventually went to live with biological family or went back with their parents who went through a reunification process. We fell in love with these kids and while it might not have been our desire, it’s such a beautiful picture of God’s redemptive work. We know our call and role in it was to provide a loving home and to meet the needs of the child(ren), and even in that, we got to see God heal and restore brokenness like we’ve never seen before.
I think it’s safe to say the most humbling part of the journey for us was the support we received from other people – both from church and outside of church. Neither of us are good at accepting help. Truthfully though, there were days over those 2 years that we could not have made it without the support of other people. Whether it was dropping off groceries, watching our kids for a few hours (or a weekend), cleaning or simply listening – it was amazing to see God use the right people with the right gifts at the exact right moments to provide what we needed to get through. Those who helped us weren’t able to be foster parents at the time, but every single one of them used their gifts, invested in us and the kids in our home and made a lasting impact. Through all that we created deeply bonded relationships that feel much more like family than friendships, and from our perspective, relationships like that only happen when you step into the mess of life and go through it together.
We don’t always know what God is doing, how exactly He’s using us or even fully understanding what He’s doing in us (2 Cor 4:18), but we know He asks us to not give up on doing good (Gal. 6:9). He works things together for good (Romans 8:28) and He is in control (Psalm 103:19). After God clearly closed a series of doors, frankly against our personal desires and certainly causing lots of questions, it became clear that adoption through foster care wasn’t what He had for us at the moment. While we don’t know exactly what’s next for us in our foster/adoptive journey we know caring for vulnerable children is close to God’s heart and therefore ours and we continue to look for ways to be involved through Heritage to support foster families. We’re thankful for what we’ve gotten to be a part of so far and look forward to what God has for us down the road.
- Have you ever thought about fostering? Why or why not?
- Have you had an experience where someone supported you through something you thought was impossible? What was that like for you?
Read: Romans 12
- What does Paul say is pure worship? What would that look like for you?
- What gifts has God given you as a part of the body to uniquely serve others?
- What are some things Paul encourages us to do in this chapter?
Read: James 1:22-27
- What does James say we should do with the Word?
- What does James say is pure religion? What do you think that means?
- Share one-way God is calling you to take a step towards caring for widows and orphans.
Prayer: Take a moment to share prayer requests and pray for each other.
Weekly Prayer Focus: Pray the 7,000 children in foster care in the Bay Area would feel safe, loved, wanted and heard.
- Attend interest meeting to learn more about how to support foster care on November 14th.
Volunteer at the KAFPA Christmas Party at Calvary on December 9th.