What is the Every Child Initiative

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Here at Summit we have something called The Every Child Initiative.  Although this ministry started about 8 years ago, it’s possible that not everyone knows exactly what it is.  The Initiative was born out of a desire to be increasingly intentional about the way that the church pursues caring for the orphan.  By “orphan” I mean the vulnerable, the unprotected, the needy, the abandoned, and overlooked children right here in our own community and those that are all over the world.

We aim to envision and equip the people of Summit Church to engage in caring for the vulnerable in a number of different ways including adoption, foster care, serving as Safe Families, volunteering as Guardian ad Litems, participating in the fight against human trafficking, and advocating for life for the unborn.

As believers, we understand the important role that this kind of service has in the life of the church as well as in the life of the community.  Caring for people is important.  Culture agrees.  For us as the redeemed, though, it comes from a much deeper place. 

Culture “acts”, but as Christians, we respond. We respond out of an appreciation for the love of God that has so graciously enveloped us. We respond out of gratitude. 

It’s personal and pervasive.

For us, this kind of care is a natural overflow of the love and grace that we have been given. It’s what marks us. It’s how the world recognizes us as Christians- by our love. We extend ourselves in love because we have been so lavishly loved by God.

The Every Child Initiative exists to glorify God by envisioning, equipping, and empowering disciples to have gospel impact in the lives of vulnerable children.  

Remember

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1

“Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.”

Psalm 103:2-5

Will you take a minute to remember with me?

Think of your own Grace Story.  Remember when the Lord brought you from death to life? Think of your condition before you came to know the saving love of Jesus Christ.  Were you lost?  Far off?  An outsider?  Misled?  Striving? Confused? Hopeless? Lacking?  Without a future? Anxiety- ridden? Alone? Desperate? Not good enough?

 
As you have come to know the unsearchable riches of His great love, what are some of the words that you would use to describe God’s gracious dealings with you?
Rescued?
Unconditionally loved?
Chosen?
Sought after?
Redeemed?
Adopted?
Set free?
Made an heir?
Secure?
Belonging?
Brought in?
Given peace, comfort and a future?

These truths are the believer’s inherent reality.  If we have put our hope and confidence in the saving work of Jesus Christ, all of this, and more, is ours and we will spend the rest of our lives discovering the unending goodness and love of our Heavenly Father.  

Because we remember, we respond

It is out of the true realization of this great love that we step into action.  1 John 4:19 says that “we love because he first loved us”.  Our earnestness is rooted in a robust understanding of God‘s love- sacrificial, without expectation of anything in return, giving the very best, working for our highest interest, undeserved, extravagant…  Understanding that kind of effusive love evokes a response and fortifies the faith we need to live the abundant life that we have been given.  In our actions, we have the opportunity to reveal our beliefs, our gratitude, and our trust.  How we respond to God’s love is how we love in deed and truth (1 John 3:18)

Every November, the Church worldwide recognizes Orphan Sunday as a day to remember the Orphan and to call the Church to action. Caring for vulnerable children is just one of the many ways to live out the gospel and to live into our faith. As the body of Christ, we have the common experience of redemption, rescue, and unconditional love. Out of this shared experience, we are called to plead the cause of the vulnerable. And though it can sometimes feel intimidating, the Bible says that in knowing Christ, we have everything that we need for life and godliness (1 Peter 1:3).  We are a people that are uniquely equipped to endure difficulty as we are ever learning to set our minds on things above and learning to find our joy and hope in Christ alone (Colossians 3:1-2).  We are a people who are made to persist, as we are deeply and firmly rooted in the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:17).  We are a people who are sustained by the comfort of our God, as He is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).  And we are a people who are hopeful as He promises to make beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3). We are a people made to live out the mystery of faith and the paradox of Kingdom living… compelled to love, empowered to emulate, and blessed to suffer.

 As we empty ourselves, though it might be costly, we find more of Him. 

The gain is worth it- to know Christ, to know the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, to become like him in his death (Philippians 3:7-11).  Somehow in the economy of Christ, we find that to give is to gain, and to lose is to win. 


The Ask

*First, will you remember your own grace story?  Would you share it with at least one person today?  Would you remind yourself of how the Lord has rescued and redeemed you?
*Second, will you take time to ask the Lord what He may have for you?  Maybe it is time for you to engage in one of the following ministries.  Or perhaps you’ve been serving in one particular area, but now the Lord has a new work for you.  No matter what, you won’t want to miss out on whatever He has for you in this season.

 

Here are a few of the opportunities within our Every Child Initiative that you can be praying through-

 *Life advocacy- Do you have a heart to care for women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy?  Could you walk alongside them through a season when they might otherwise feel alone and unsupported?  Would you advocate for their unborn child?  

*Anti-trafficking- Would you want to step into the fight against modern day slavery?  According to DCF, in 2017 there were 366 cases of human trafficking in the Suncoast region of Florida (this region includes SWFL).  And those were just the cases that were reported.   Do you have a heart to care for people who have been abused or exploited… to show them hope and to help them find healing?

*Adoption- Do you feel called to be a forever family for a child that needs a loving home? There are 140 million orphans worldwide, with 111,820 children in the United States waiting to be adopted.  Here in Southwest Florida, there are 50 children in the system right now needing forever families.

*Foster Care- What about the 569 children in foster care in just Lee and Collier counties?  Could it be that the Lord would have you step into caring for these kids that are right here in our own community needing care and protection?

*Global Orphan Care-  Maybe the Lord has given you a heart for the vulnerable in a particular country?  Are you burdened by the agony of food scarcity, lack of education, poverty, malnourishment?  We can help connect you with organizations that provide for the needs of vulnerable children in different parts of the world.

*Guardian ad Litem-  Could you stand in court for children in our community and speak on behalf of the child’s best interest?  As of this past August, only 63% of the children in care in SWFL had Guardian ad Litems.   Would you consider lending your voice and your heart for their cause?

*Wrap Around Care- Could you sign up to bring a meal to a family that has recently brought a foster or adopted child into their home?  You have no idea what a significant blessing something as simple as a meal can be to a family.  It lets them know that they are not alone.  That they are supported and loved by their church family.  What about providing respite care for foster families by offering to care for their foster children when they need to travel?  Would you consider serving families by mentoring, tutoring, or babysitting their children?

*  Most importantly, would you simply commit to pray?  Pray for the children.  Pray for the families they represent.  Pray for those who have already stepped in and are caring for them.  And pray about whether you the Lord would have you step in?  Will you ask the Lord to let you see what He sees?  To let what breaks His heart break yours as well?

*The last ask is this- Would you join us on Sunday evening, November 11, 2018 to spend an evening worshipping the Lord and praying for vulnerable children.  Many of our partners will be there for you to meet and to answer your questions.  The service will be from 6pm- 8pm at the University Campus.   

As believers, we were made for this.  We were made to lay down our lives on behalf of others.  We were made to carry to gospel into dark places and offer hope.  Once again, we have this opportunity put before us.  Would you take time this week to remember what you have been given and then see if the Lord might be calling you to respond to these particular needs?

 

What if this November you are being invited to go deeper?

What if you are being called to a place where you might have the opportunity to know God more intimately?

What if, by God’s grace, you have been invited to emulate the Father in rescue, adoption, bringing in, giving comfort, and seeing restoration.  Will you step in?

 

Lord,

Our hearts are overwhelmed with gratitude as we recall your goodness to us… your grace… your personal and redeeming love.  Help us to never lose sight of the tremendous gifts you have given us in our salvation through Jesus Christ, our adoption as sons and daughters, our anchored hope, and our promised future.    

We seek you alone as we put before you the many opportunities to participate in the advancement of your kingdom.  We ask for your direction.  We ask for clarity and discernment in what you would have us pray through and possibly even step into.   

Show us where fear is hindering our faith and allow us to know your perfect love in a way that moves us beyond ourselves.  Remind us of your faithfulness and power.  With you, all things are possible.

Lead us and sustain us as we step out further.  Give us a heart that says yes and fortify our yes for even the most challenging days.  Surrender our souls to your perfect will.  To you alone be the Glory forever. Amen.

To learn more about The Every Child Initiative, please visit us at www.everychildswfl.com.


Adoption Month

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It's November, and I love the fact that it's national Adoption month. It seems so fitting that Thanksgiving falls in this month too, because to me they go hand in hand. I'm so thankful that the Lord made adoption a part of our life story.

I had ZERO intentions of adopting a child when my husband, Jeremy, approached me about it a couple of years back... I actually asked God to close the door because I thought that making such a leap of faith was scary. Yes, I cared about vulnerable children, and thought that Christians should step up and take care of them...but I was hoping that my part would be bringing meals to those who were called to adopt/foster. I couldn't imagine bringing a stranger into my house and calling him my own... and having to love him as my own. But I felt God telling me that I needed to just trust Him and at least start the process. 

Our story is different than most because it happened so fast- two months to be exact. One day, we got a call that a baby boy that was 8 days old needed a home because it wasn’t going to work out with some other families ahead of us. As soon as I hung up the phone with the agency, I felt such an urgency to get to him. It would have been easy to say it was too soon, and that we weren't ready (because we weren't). But God knew that Crosby (who's birth name was Jeremy) was meant to be our son.

Connecting with him took some time. It wasn't instantaneous like you often hear about. I can't tell you the exact moment that it happened, but the Lord changed and softened my heart over our first six months together. The baby I was originally praying would not be a part of our lives, has ended up being the missing piece of our family of five. When I look at him I'm reminded of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness our lives. And though it hasn't been the easiest 4 years of our lives, I take comfort in knowing that I have a Heavenly Father who has our lives planned out. And I'm forever grateful for my sweet boy that he brought to us.

-Norma

Waiting - An Adoption Story

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Adoption is a beautiful and scary process. It's a faith-building, perseverance-making, trust-molding journey. And it's God’s plan, and His is the best kind of journey we can join. After hearing so many adoption stories, I quickly learned that no two were the same and God was going to create a unique and special story to tell through our family.

My husband, Chadd, and I first started talking about adoption when we were engaged in college. We each had experienced the tug on our heart while on separate mission trips to orphanages in Central America. We agreed that one day we would pursue adoption to add to our family, but wanted to wait until after we had biological children. Flash forward eight years, and we now had a 3-year-old son, Emery and a 1-year old daughter, Addilyn. Life was good but we felt like our family just wasn’t complete. God made it very clear to us that now was the time to start pursuing adoption but not international like we had originally thought. Summit’s heart for foster care and adoption showed us how many children were right in our “backyard” needing a home. So on Orphan Sunday that year, we contacted an adoption agency Summit partnered with and started the process. 

After completing the home study and what felt like a mountain of paperwork, came the hardest part of all... the waiting. It was during this part of the process God started to refine me and show me so much of His character. Every single thing was out of my control and I had to rely fully on His plan for my family. There were moments of frustration because I had heard of stories where people got matched with a baby right after finishing their home study, but God gently reminded me that this was our story not their story. I had moments of feeling rejected when a birth mom didn’t choose us but God reminded me quietly that that was not our child but was someone else’s. And then when a year had passed, and we had to update our home study, my heart hit an all-time low. A year of waiting felt like a long time. I knew God had called our family into adoption, but I just couldn’t understand why nothing was happening. Then one morning during my quiet time, I opened to Psalm 27:14 which says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” I literally felt God speak it directly to my heart and a peace came over me reminding me that God’s plan was perfect and I just needed to sit back and wait. 

A week later, we were presented with four different children not even through our adoption agency in a matter of two weeks! I even held one of them in my arms but knew none of these were our child. Then a few months later, a year and a half after we started this journey, a young pregnant mother, already with a 1 year old, wanted to meet with us. I remember on our 3 hour drive to meet her and her mom, how nervous and excited Chadd and I were. We started talking about possible baby names to try to distract ourselves. We didn’t even know the gender but I had a strong feeling it would be a boy, so we found one we both agreed with and little did we know what a sweet God moment that would be for us. Shortly after meeting the birth-mom, we realized she went by her middle name not her first name which just happened to be the meaning of the name we had chosen for this baby!

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The call to confirm that she had chosen us to be her unborn child’s parents is a day I’ll never forget! Just that morning, I had read Isaiah 25:1, “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.”
The story God was weaving for our family was one He had known all along. And just two months later, we held our sweet, red-headed baby boy in our arms for the first time almost 2 years after we started the process!

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I feel forever indebted to the strong and courageous young women who chose to give us a piece of her heart to forever care for. Nothing about adoption is easy but it is one of the biggest blessings so far in our life. Beckett has brought our family so much joy and I wouldn’t change any detail in our story. The waiting made us stronger in our faith and in our marriage. No other child could have completed our family. God knitted our hearts together just like I had prayed for from the start. Our journey has truly just begun, as we still have a lot more uncharted territory to enter but we know God is trustworthy and faithful to lead us on this path and complete this beautiful story he is weaving for His kingdom.

-Andrea H.

Wrap Around Care

A really important part of our Every Child Initiative is Wrap Around Care. People who volunteer in our wrap around ministry serve our foster and adoptive families by bringing meals, babysitting, mentoring, providing respite care, and meeting so many other basic but important needs.

This ministry provides the opportunity for the body of Christ to rally around those who are caring for the vulnerable and as you can see in this video, this kind of care can make all the difference.

If you would like to serve in any capacity in our Wrap Around Care ministry, please contact Vicky@summitlife.com.

If you’ve ever served any of our Every Child families in any capacity, this video is for you.

How can I help vulnerable children?

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Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27

 After reading this scripture years ago, I was thrilled.  Yes…this is what I wanted to do, how I longed to worship the Lord in this way.  I have always had a heart for orphans and foster children.  I was sure that the Lord was telling me to open up my home to care for the least of these.  Well, my husband didn’t receive this same message.  He wasn’t ready or even sure that we were supposed to expand our family in this way and so, I prayed hard for a long time that the Lord would change my husband’s mind on this issue.  Well, years went by and we still weren’t any closer to being foster parents or adoptive parents.  Every year on Orphan Sunday when announcements would go out about prayerfully considering participating in the Every Child Initiative Night I would think to myself, this just isn’t for us right now, I would pray for vulnerable children and honestly, that was the end of it-  I didn’t attend, I didn’t prayerfully consider anything, I did nothing.

A couple years ago though, something was different.  I felt the Lord really putting it on my heart to at least go to the Every Child Initiative Night and check it out. I knew he brought me there that night for a reason.  I spent most of the time sitting in the back praying a different prayer.  It wasn’t the “make us foster parents” prayer.  I prayed for the Lord to show me how I WAS supposed to fit into this ministry.  If not as a foster parent, then what was it suppose to look like?

The Lord is faithful and hears our petitions and it wasn’t long after that that I received a call inviting me to participate in the Every Child Initiative in a way that I didn’t even know existed.  I became a Wrap-Around Coordinator or what I like to call a ”first responder” to our Foster and Adoptive Families. 

My role is to make contact with families within the first days of their placements to assess their needs- material and spiritual- by finding clothes, car seats, setting up meal trains and praying along side of them for these difficult transitions.   As coordinators we also keep in contact with our families during the placements to make sure they have the support that they need.   Getting to know and serving these families have been such a blessing to me- one I almost missed out on. 

Why do I tell you this?  Because there are actually many ways to participate in the Every Child Initiative and if you are like I was and think this isn’t for you, well, you might be wrong.  Just as Paul writes to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 about the church body having many parts, all which are equally important to the body as a whole, so do the ministries within the church.  The Every Child Initiative isn’t just families who foster or adopt.  These children and their families need mentors, tutors, clothes, diapers, meals, help with household chores, prayer, babysitters, and many other things.  When these families attend multiple court dates, appointments, or meetings, they need childcare for their other children.  They need us to be praying and encouraging them when they have really tough placements.  They need support and love from all of us which might look like a hot meal or a clean load of laundry.   What they have been called to do is difficult, yet the Lord is near and He even invites the rest of us to help lighten their load.  I know we all aren’t called right now to take children into our homes, but I believe that we are all called to care for vulnerable children.  Before you dismiss this like I initially did, I urge you to ask the Lord how you fit into this ministry.

 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27

6 Things to Know Before Caring for Vulnerable Children

By Vicky Stinziano

1. Caring for vulnerable children reveals your need to be rooted in the word of God.

Bringing children that are in need into your home is exciting.  It’s an extraordinary privilege and a wonderful calling.  It’s important to know up front, though, that the process can be intense and unpredictable.   It quickly brings about a heightened awareness of our dependence on God and it illuminates our need for faithfulness in our pursuit of the Lord.  Caring for vulnerable children exposes our desperate need to be in God’s word.  It’s a priority we must fight for even, and especially, in the chaos of bringing in a new family member.

We need to know and be able to trust the Lord’s character.  We must know that His sovereignty is sure, His ways are good, His grace is extravagant, and that His justice will prevail.  As we step out from our semblance of order, predictability, and comfort, into the world of the marginalized child, we must be able to lean hard into the truths of who God says He is.  Knowing that His perfect will is what is best, tethers us as we depend on Him and find our footing in the midst of uncertainty. 

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"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

Romans 15:4

 

2. Caring for vulnerable children requires you to obey the word of God.

Not only do we need to know Scripture, but we also need to hear and obey what it says.  The Lord’s instruction is perfect, right, refreshing, enlightening, clarifying, and comforting.  His commands are for our good. If there is any hope for joy, any hope for flourishing, any hope for fruitfulness, there must be faithfulness… faithfulness to seek the Lord and faithfulness to do just what He says. It’s not enough to just know Scripture, we must seek His help in following it.  We need His daily guidance as we strive to become more like Him. Our kids need us to be practicing wisdom such as “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1) and commands like “Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10).  It’s not enough to have the word in our heads without allowing it to affect our hearts.  Our children need kind eyes and gentle care.  Only by living into what the Lord has put before us can we effectively minister to the kids in our homes.  God, in His word and through the power of the Holy Spirit, has given us everything we need for life and Godliness.  We must be prepared to seek and obey Him.  He is our stability as we live by faith.   

"Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great."

Luke 6:47-49

 

3. Caring for vulnerable children is a call to discipleship.

 "For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."

 Galatians 6:8-10

Bearing another’s burdens, sowing spiritual truths, doing good to one another… these are all aspects of caring well for a child in need. Children come into our homes with a history and these histories, these traumas, can present as burdens.  As disciple-makers, we have the privilege to help carry those burdens… those hurts, those behaviors, those triggers.  We must understand the gravity of what we have been entrusted with…  day-to-day opportunities to sow spiritually, to show grace, lend perspective, to demonstrate a gentleness that can’t be found anywhere but in the work of the Holy Spirit.  It’s a spiritual labor; an intentional work, a sacrificial offering, and often, a costly endeavor.  But the Lord is kind in His word to exhort us to press on!  Don’t give up.  Scripture gives full acknowledgement of the wearying effects that good works will have on us and calls us to continue anyway.  It will be worth it.  His word promises this. There will be fruit to reap and we don’t want to miss out.   

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4. Caring for vulnerable children may stretch you to love beyond your capacity.   

Sometimes vulnerable children come into our home as beautiful, angelic newborns that we instantly fall in love with.  But, that is not always the case.  Sometimes the children are challenging.  They come angry and sad.  They come extremely hurt.  They come irrational and erratic.  They come with survival strategies and manipulation.  They come difficult to love and difficult in general.   

But Jesus calls us to love not only those that are easy to love, but also those that are most difficult.  He calls us to generously love even our enemies.  It seems safe to say that with those being the parameters, everyone in our lives falls somewhere on that spectrum. 

27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

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Love your enemies… do good…. expect nothing… for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil man.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

This is possible only through the work of the Spirit.  We call on the Spirit to help us remember who we were outside of Christ and to overwhelm us with the love that has been lavished on us.  As we consider His love for us and act with kindness, the Lord is faithful to turn our hearts, break our hearts, and change us.  We practice His love and it is perfected in us.

 

5. Caring for vulnerable children exposes your own brokenness.  

This just can’t be overstated.

Caring for vulnerable children can be exhausting, frustrating, and completely out of our comfort zone. This ministry brings you out into a different terrain… what can often seem to be a much darker terrain. There is a dual work that this call affords.  Not only does the light of Christ go forth as we serve in His name, but the call also brings to light what lays in the depths of our own hearts.  As intensity rises in our circumstances, so also can our flesh rise.  Our own issues and brokenness are most certainly revealed.  The call is too emotional and too intense for our own sinful natures not to surface.

We must be prepared to find out just how desperately we need the grace of the Father.  How we react, how we calculate, what plays on our feedback loop… these distinguish whether we’re keeping in step with Spirit or trying to survive in the flesh.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

Galatians 5:16-18

Our frustration, anger, impatience, and desire to control, all reveal what we value, what we believe, and what kingdom we’re building. Our reactions and responses will expose what we believe about God, what we believe about ourselves, and what we believe about our relationships. The call to this sort of emotional intensity is guaranteed to unearth your sinful nature. The beauty of the cross is that the grace of Jesus Christ is already present the very moment of repentance.  Not only that, but this process of repentance can fuel a greater capacity for the grace you extend to your children- as you come to terms with how very similar all of our shortcomings are.      

 

6. Caring for vulnerable children will be difficult.

"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?  Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; Your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.  Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’  If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and the speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.  And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."

Isaiah 58:6 -11

There will be scorched places.

It will be hard.  We live in a broken world filled with broken people, broken systems, and broken hearts.  And that is the world we’re called to minster to, to pour ourselves out for, to bleed for, to cry out for.  It’s a Gospel undertaking and we can’t be caught off-guard when it’s harder than we thought it would be.  We can’t be discouraged when it doesn’t go the way it seems it should.  It’s Kingdom work and therefore will require Kingdom faith and Kingdom perspective.  And so, we see it through.  We keep going until the Lord says to stop.  We trust His providence and His refinement.  The difficulties don’t change the call, but rather make room for the Lord to change us.   

Frustrations and sorrow are part of the mission, but the Lord ministers to us there. In the middle of our brokenness, our hunger, our pain, our darkness, we see Him care for us.  We see His light rise and we find that He alone can satisfy, renew, and make strong… perhaps most fully in our scorched places

 

*Be sure to check out the following resources:

-The Beauty and Brokenness of Foster Care   by Jason Johnson

  -The Connected Child   by Dr. Karen B. Purvis Ph.D., and David R. Cross,

 Ph.D., and Wendy Lyons Sunshine

-The Whole-Brained Child   by Daniel J. Siegal, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson,

 Ph.D

3 things that Fostering and Adoption have taught us

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3 things that Fostering and Adoption have taught us...

Almost eight years ago Jamin invited us to one of the first Every Child Initiative meetings. The ECI was so new it was just an idea without a name. We left church that day asking ourselves why Jamin would invite us to such a meeting. We actually didn’t make the connection that our daughter adopted from China seven years earlier would make us good candidates to participate in the initiative. Since that day we have fostered approximately 32 children some for a night, some for months, some for years, and one that we officially adopted two years ago next month. We have learned a lot on this journey.

Sticking with the church-appropriate lessons, here are our top three:
1. God’s plan, not ours. (Jeremiah 29:11)

This is not the coffee mug and plaque version of this popular life verse, it’s the years of wandering in the desert version wondering what the heck God had in store for this child and how your family fits into their story. It’s the total surrender to all the things you said you didn’t want to do.

“Don’t send us babies. We don’t want to be up all night.”

We brought five babies home from the hospital. We also took many placements under the age of two.

“Don’t ask me to work with the biological parents, they are really messed up.”

Now some of those biological parents are parenting in healthy ways and have become our friends.

“Whatever your plan God, please don’t let it include an open adoption.”

But that was exactly his plan to stretch us and mold us. We talk to our son’s birth mom every week and see his birth family once a year.

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2. Don’t worry He gives you everything you need. (Matthew 6:25-34)

If we had to stop and actually have everything perfect and in place before we took a new placement, we never would have taken the first kid. We learned to step out in faith and God always came through in far better ways than we could imagine. The most notorious example is the two-month-old baby that I took in the middle of the night without waking anyone up to tell them. The baby just needed a place to stay for a few hours and would be gone before anyone even woke up.  Instead, Baby L stayed for 29 days until she was placed with her forever family. It’s only because of God and the angels He sent us that we made it through those 29 days with three babies under two! Just finding three open daycare spots were a huge miracle!

We have learned when you step out in faith God will provide just what you need.

3. Proclaim the gospel to a watching world. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Although we were both raised in Christian homes, we were not raised to proclaim the gospel. Being asked to share our grace story was the most intimidating part of joining Summit Church. Through foster care and adoption, God has provided us the easiest opening to share the gospel with a watching world. Trust me, when you roll up at Publix with three kids of three different races and they are all calling you mommy it’s inevitable that some sweet and curious person will ask “are they all yours?” The door is kicked wide open and you can’t help but tell people what Jesus has done for you and what he can do for them!  You may as well shout it from the produce section because they already think you are crazy!

Every person reading this blog has a part to play in the Every Child Initiative. You can pray for the children and their bio families, your prayers are always appreciated. On some of the hardest days it was the prayers of others that got us through. You can volunteer to provide wrap around care to a fostering family. It wasn’t until our last placement they we humbled ourselves and let our resource coordinator organize meals for our family. The Griffith family not only organized meals and rounded up baby clothes, they rocked babies so we could give the toddlers a bath and fold a load of laundry.  If God is pressing on your heart today to consider fostering, Safe Families or adoption, take the first step, don’t wait.

God has a plan, He will provide all that you need, as you are a light to the world.

Christy Kutz