Foster 20/20 is an advocacy campaign of Clement Arts. Our goal is to bring foster care awareness to every church in Muscogee, Harris, and Russell Counties by the close of year 2020. To get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Invisible Crisis
There is a problem before us, an invisible crisis on our doorsteps. If a child who had been abused, neglected, or abandoned found her way to the doors of your church, it would be impossible not to notice. Rather than looking the other way, we would see clearly the will of Jesus in caring for such a child.
Yet these children — abused, neglected, abandoned — are present within the reach of our churches, in every part of our community. They are invisible to us, hidden in the system of foster care. Though often outside our view, the needs of these children — and the call of Jesus to care for them — is no less urgent.
Figures, Families, & Futures
Nationwide there are over 425,000 children in foster care. Over 14,000 of those children live in the state of Georgia. Meanwhile, there is a drastic shortage of families to provide homes for these children. In Muscogee County alone, there are over 450 children in care with only 120 local foster home “beds” in which to place them. There are similar needs in Harris and Russell Counties. Due to the shortage of homes, many children are placed outside the county (sometimes across the state), compounding the issue and further separating them from their family, friends, schools, and churches.
Without loving homes and communities to care for and nurture these children, their future remains bleak. Nationally, 66 percent of foster children will be homeless, in jail, or dead within one year after “aging out” of the foster care system at 18. A staggering 80 percent of the prison population was once in foster care.* In 2013, 60 percent of children who were rescued from sex trafficking by the FBI were from foster care or group homes.**
*Arrow Child and Family Ministries, 2012
**National Foster Youth Institute, 2013
The Biblical Mandate
Scripture calls us to something better for the sake of these children. All throughout the Bible, God’s people are called to care for children in need. Psalm 82:3 commands us to “defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed.” Jesus used strong language for anyone who would bring harm to a child (Luke 17:2), while he himself called children to come close that he might bless them (Matthew 19:13-14). James 1:27 reminds us that “religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” If the Church is to serve as the visible presence of Christ in the world, then we must be about the Father’s business of caring for the children at our doorsteps.
The Response of the Church
In centuries past, the Church has taken primary responsibility for the care of the fatherless. We have founded orphanages and taken in those who were abused, neglected, and abandoned. Sadly, over time we have relegated that responsibility to the State.
The leadership at Clement Arts believes that the Church is the best solution to the foster care crisis facing our nation and local community. We believe that Christian homes are vital, not only to provide a safe and nurturing environment, but also to share the love of God and the truth of the gospel in the lives of children and their birth families. Many local churches are beginning to see the need and to respond in the name of Jesus Christ. Even so, there is much work to do. We call upon the whole Body of Christ to rise up and bring glory to God our Father in becoming the solution for the foster care crisis and for the children He loves.
The opportunity is right on our doorsteps.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Clement Care, a church-based strategy for foster care ministry.