Given the current isolation restrictions set by the Australian government during this season, we can acknowledge that gathering for You Parties is not the best way to support foster families. In fact, it would be much easier to put our ministry of support to rest for now, and resume You Parties when the public gathering restrictions are lifted. It really is much easier to assume that because foster families are at home together without the regular stresses and pressures of life, that their lives are simpler. Less complicated and full of more quality time together, right? It’s much easier for us to ignore the issue of hurting, broken children in their homes when we’re not face-to-face with them each day. If I can’t hear the cries of children who need homes, then how can I respond? It’s easy for me to sit back and act as if my hands are tied right now.
The reality is that the complete opposite is true. In times of crisis (even global, unprecedented ones), we know that there is a reported amount of increase of domestic abuse in homes. This means that there are actually more unsafe, hurting children in our country right now than before. Additionally, foster families who stand on the frontlines of loving and caring for these children are cut off from a range of support they often access. School support systems, mental health appointments, regular community gatherings, visits and play dates, as well as other outings that encourage good relational health for families are all currently on hold.
So while it may seem easier to sit back and rest from our fight in this season, we in fact need to do the opposite. This season of global pandemic is our chance as the church – the people of eternal hope and strength to lend a hand in Jesus’ name – to rise up, to lean in and to take up our place in this call to fight for and love ‘the least of these’.
“The opposite to love is not hate, it’s indifference.” This Elie Wiesel quote is one of many I have been clinging to as I think through how I can intentionally serve in this area. I can’t ‘wash my hands’ of this fight as Pilate did when he turned his back on the injustice done to our Saviour. I can’t pretend I don’t know what’s going on. I know the words of Jesus,
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, “I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:35-40
Now that we know, we cannot just ‘wash our hands’ and sit back.
So, to that end, here are three encouraging ways that we, as the church, can use to courageously lean in together and stand with our vulnerable children & foster families in this season.
3 Ways You Can Help
1) “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, it is the greater work.”-Oswald Chambers.
I love that when Jesus teaches us how to pray in Matthew 6, that He actually says the words, “Go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father.” That’s where a lot of us realistically find ourselves in this season: in isolation. So first and foremost, we can take the opportunity for this season to be full of ‘deep meditation, without fuss and hurry,’ as Spurgeon says. Our God is the God who draws near, and as we find in Isaiah 58:9, the God who responds with “Here I Am.” He is ready to hear, move and respond to the cries of His people. And we believe that He is the One who works all things for our good and His glory – so we have hope even in the darkest of worldly seasons, fixing our eyes on Him and trusting His eternal plan and promises.
Modelled on the prayer Jesus teaches us to pray – the Lord’s prayer– here’s some ideas for how we can be praying for foster families & children in this season.
Our Father, in heaven, hallowed be your Name.
Our Father – you call yourself by that name – a good father who promises good things for His children (Luke 11:13), and who calls himself the Father to the Fatherless, the one who ‘sets the lonely in homes’(Ps 68:5-6). We believe that is who you are, and that you, Jesus, promise ‘not to leave us as orphans’ here on earth but that you will be with us. (John 14:18) We praise you for these promises and the assurance that we can trust you with hope for this season, and for our children.
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.
Jesus, we know that one day we will see your kingdom in it’s fullness, and the promise is that one day your dwelling place will be with us. You will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain. (Revelation 3-4) So Jesus, we’re asking for these things for our children. That in this time, we would be your hands and feet and demonstrate the kingdom here on earth. We would see, love and meet the needs of these children – that there would be no more violence, mourning, crying or pain in their lives as your church follows your example to rescue and care for your children. Your will be done here Lord, as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread
Father, we ask you to be our provider. We ask that you would give your strength to the foster families who are daily fighting to be a refuge for their children in a time of uncertainty. We pray for the carers, the mothers and the fathers who fearfully wait court-ordered outcomes for their children, for those who face grief and loss and continue to love unconditionally. Give them daily reminders of your mighty strength and power, for your closeness and for your care to sustain them each day.
And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us
Father, forgive us for the times we closed our eyes and ears to see the hurt of your children in this world. Forgive us for not acting as you would – our Great Rescuer. Help us to be like you, to not grow tired of doing good, and give us the grace to bear with others on this journey when we grow weary.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Father, give us expectant hope to keep our eyes fixed on you. Help us not fall into the temptation to give in to hopelessness or defeat in the face of great battles. Save us from being crushed by repeated disappointment, but to be stirred to plead more fervently with you. Help us be humbled, not discouraged. While our groans are deeper; our sighs more vehement, help us never relax our hold or sway our hands. Keep us steadfast, Father, as we wait upon you – knowing you have never let down any of your children*, and that you are faithful to strengthen and protect us from the evil one (1 Thess 3:3).
(*Prayer adapted from words of Charles Spurgeon devotion, Morning and Evening, ‘Go again seven times’.)
2) In an effort to meet the physical needs of foster families in our communities, we have created these You Parties care cards. You can send (email or mail) them to foster families in your church, foster families you may know, or print them off and send/drop off a stack at your local Child Safety service center (find your local center here) with a note to say you’d love to help families if they need it. We all know it takes a village!
3) Another way to step in for our children that I can suggest, is to faithfully consider your family being a safe harbour in this storm for our hurting children. If you have ever considered becoming a foster family, or have questions about what it’s like, or where to start, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 04037699976, or start here, by reading what next steps you can take. Agencies in Queensland are still holding intake sessions & trainings virtually.
With you in this!
Sally, and the You Parties team.