This September, and throughout Spring, we are sharing a blog series, “Letters to the Church.” These are letters written from some of the Christian women I have had the privilege of getting to know throughout our foster care ministry. They’re strong advocates, fighters, and sanctuaries of safety and love for kids who have seen more heartbreak than most. And they love the Church. They love the gospel, and the call it places on our hearts to care for the most vulnerable. They’re some of my personal heroes. So I’ve asked them to write letters to the Church, to share their stories, and say what they really wish so many more knew about standing for those who might otherwise have to stand alone.
This first letter is from my friend Mary Dickins. She runs an organisation in Tasmania called Fostering Hope, and works with churches there supporting them to be on the front lines of foster care ministry.
I’m Mary and my fostering journey began eight years ago when I opened my home to a newborn baby boy. Since then, my family has grown to include two more foster sons, so I am now a mum to five boys, two biological sons and three foster sons. As a teenager I committed my life to being a voice for the voiceless, I had enjoyed a privileged life with a loving family, great education, and opportunities and I was aware this wasn’t the same for everyone. I embarked on study and volunteer work to head down this path overseas, then, I had two sons, and this plan was put on hold.
Fostering seemed like an opportunity to live out of my dream locally. What I didn’t expect was for it to totally transform my life, relationship with God, and family. When my first foster son entered the home, God revealed how fostering was a picture of His family to the community I was living in and in every way fostering was living out my faith in my community. Fostering brings the messiness into the home – children are only end up in care if there is brokenness – carers enter the brokenness of the system, birth family situations, and children impacted by trauma. In each of these relationships there is opportunity for prayer, offering of hope, and being different to others in the system. It is an honour to be used by God in each of these relationships.
For me personally, I realised God was allowing me to live out my dream to be a voice for the voiceless, as there are no more voiceless in any community, than newborn babies and children without the protection of their parents.
Fostering has allowed me to have conversations with my neighbours and school families about faith as the first question people ask is why do you do it? Especially when you turn up at school pick up with a newborn and weren’t pregnant. It’s allowed my biological sons to invite friends to youth group. It’s allowed me to invite people to do Alpha and Alpha parenting because God is using me to show family, love, and acceptance.
I don’t know how my biological sons would have turned out without the fostering journey, but I do know they are incredible boys with empathy, patience, and awareness of what’s going on for other kids. They are the best therapy for our foster sons, they defuse situations with their playfulness and silliness, they accept their brothers for who they are, and they advocate for them to others.
As God revealed the way fostering can bring glory to Him it became my personal mission to encourage other Christians to get involved in this ministry, to educate the church about the fostering journey for carers, children in care, and birth families so they are places of acceptance and hope, to educate Christian leaders about the need for more carers, that being a foster/kinship/informal carer is being a local missionary and we need more carers in Australia, and to connect Christian carers together for fellowship and support. I honestly believe, the Christian community in Australia could find more than enough carers for all the children who need a family and this would bring glory to God, would be us standing for something positive and healing and we would be seen as people who offer love to those who need it. This is the work of Fostering Hope.”
If you would like to join the fight to stand for vulnerable kids in your community, check out our free guide to hosting a STAND SUNDAY in your local church this spring.