The Apostle James said that true religion is caring for the orphan and the widow in their distress. He was interested in people living out their faith, demonstrating it, versus just talking about it. He was a “put your money where your mouth is” kind of guy, and I like that about him. The orphan has been near and dear to our family’s heart for some time now, but the call to put into action what we proclaimed really culminated when we met a little boy named Marvin. Marvin was the most clever and hilarious little four year old that we had ever met
and his laughter and smile remain with us. Some time after meeting him, I received an email that said Marvin needed a family. This was an easy step for us. We knew we had a family, not perfect, but loving, and we would be happy to have him join it. To us, this was just simple hospitality and generosity – sharing what we had with someone who was in need. We ended up not being able to adopt Marvin. God had other plans for him and he is now with his biological family, but the seeds that God planted in our hearts through our experiences with Marvin continue to grow.
Two years later, I am now on staff at Parkway Fellowship Church, and I brought with it my passion for the orphan. However, God has been busy in the hearts of Parkway people long before I arrived. In the first few weeks, I heard story after story about how God is drawing families to adopt, foster, or to care for the orphan. I am thankful for these families and I plan to bring some of their individual stories to the blog soon. I know that God has been busy planting the seeds at Parkway for the next step in orphan care because caring for the orphan and widow, true religion, is for all of God’s people, not just those called to adopt and foster.
In seeking out the best possible ways for Parkway to fulfill this calling, I reached out to my friend, Debi Tengler, the National Relations Officer for Arrow Child and Family. As we sat down at the table, I knew that this would be no ordinary meeting. Debi and the entire team at Arrow are on the front lines, pouring themselves out day-by-
day for children in foster care and also for human trafficking victims through Freedom Place, a trauma and recovery home for the rescued. I knew that we were perfect partners because they believe that each child belongs in a loving family. She shared with me the statistic that 74% of trafficking victims come from the foster system. The people at Arrow understand that intervention is necessary in all stages, from prevention that strengthens families to aftercare that provides healing and restoration. Parkway also shares in this desire to find real solutions that offer hope for all children.
Arrow Child and Family is one of the few faith-based foster care placement agencies and they place more children into foster care than any other organization in Texas. But, they screen their families closely, offering support from beginning to end, and recognize the value of the local church in this endeavor. In fact, as we talked about ways that the church can come alongside these children, Debi shared with me that these children need suitcases. Honestly, I was so taken aback by this that I thought perhaps I had misunderstood. Why would these children need suitcases? Debi explained that the average amount of moves for a child in foster care is 14 moves. If a child is over the age of 10, it is likely that they will stay in foster care for the rest of their eight years, bouncing from placement to placement. Every child deserves a family to belong. Thankfully, for Arrow kids, the average is at the very most two moves. I am thankful for the good people at Arrow who understand the need for healthy and strong families for children to flourish and are working to that end.
Church, let’s be doers of God’s Word. Let’s prove our faith to others by caring for the fatherless in their distress. God knows each and every one of these children by name. Perhaps you can be the incarnational intervention that these children need.√