Child Abuse Awareness Month

April is Child Abuse Awareness month.

silhouette-of-unrecognizable-sad-autistic-girl-PNEGZSL.jpg

In an effort to bring awareness to this issue as well as aid to the kids that are already in care, Children’s Network of Southwest Florida is promoting an initiative called the Manicure Initiative.  This initiative seeks to help bring awareness, education, and assistance for the sake of vulnerable children. 

Simply by painting one fingernail “prevention blue,” you can open the door for conversations about facts like:

*1 in 5 children will be abused before their 18th birthday

*5 children die every day as a result of child abuse or neglect

*1 person can make a difference


What can you do to help? 

You can get educated about the signs of abuse.   

You can make a financial donation to Children’s Network (childnetswfl.org/donate).  All donations go to help with the over 2500 children that Children’s Network currently serve.  This Manicure initiative is a very practical way not only to help care about vulnerable children in our own community, but also to serve and bless an organization that works hard every day to protect and care for kids in SWFL.

You can help spread the word by using #MANicureMovement and #polishingoffchildabuse on social media.

Everyone can do something.  Lets help bring awareness and action to our community.

 

Ten Questions Couples Should Ask Before Becoming Foster Parents

This post was written by Jason Johnson and can be found in it’s entirety on his blog here.

steven-van-loy-27355-unsplash.jpg

I’m convinced for every one couple we see pursuing becoming foster parents, there’s a whole host of others that are privately considering it but aren’t quite ready to publicly confess it. And sometimes the question holding them back the most is - “What questions should we be asking?”

I recognize single people can foster too - and many should - but that’s not primarily what this post is about, although some of the questions couples need to be asking themselves are relevant and applicable to singles as well. The purpose of this post, however, is to provide some context and structure to those private and personal conversations I know many of you are having out there. Hopefully it gives you some handlebars to hold onto and guardrails to navigate within. While this list is certainly not exhaustive, let it be a clarifying guide for you as you continue to consider and pursue taking your next best steps together.

1. WHAT’S OUR MOTIVATION?

Foster care is less about getting a child for your family and more about giving your family for a child. A slightly different statement with significantly different implications. That's not to say that a family can't grow through foster care - it sometimes does - or that a family doesn't receive endless amounts of blessings and joy through foster care - they no doubt can. It is to say, however, that our first call is to give, not receive. Why is this important? Several reasons, but most notably is simply wanting to “get” a child cuts off your capacity to hope for that child’s family to be restored so they can go home. As well, what happens when process is especially difficult? Do you stick with it because it’s worth it, or step out because you’re not getting what you want? Check your intentions.

2. ARE WE ON THE SAME PAGE?

While I understand the sentiment behind the question, I actually don’t like it as much as I like to ask: “Are you at least reading the same book?” Because sometimes we might be a few pages ahead of or behind our spouse, but as long as we’re reading the same book - i.e. sharing the same convictions and vision and taking steps forward together in same direction - that’s what’s most important. Needing to be on the “same page” sometimes makes couples feel like until they are both absolutely and equally comfortable, confident and clear than they can’t do anything. I don’t necessarily agree. Maybe it starts small and simple; one step at a time. Attending an informational meeting or orientation class; going to dinner with a family that is fostering; reading a good book; etc. Don’t let being on page 17 while your spouse is on page 29 paralyze you. As long as you’re reading the same book, meet each other in the middle and go from there!

3. DO WE HAVE A SUPPORT SYSTEM?

You can’t do this alone. Nor should you try. You need a collective diversity of people around you to sustain you through this journey. Don’t have a built in circle or support? Start building one. Go out of your way to ingrain yourself into a local church ministry, an agency’s support systems or some other kind of community resource opportunities...even if the best you can do right now in your area is an online Facebook group! Don’t go at it alone! When you don’t ask for help, or when you refuse to lean into systems of support being offered to you, you deprive others the opportunity to serve. It’s that important - not just for you, but for them as well. These kids deserve for you to be connected and supported. Everybody wins when you are; everybody loses when you’re not. Don’t go at it alone. Read more here.

4. HAVE WE COUNTED THE COSTS?

Have you removed the rose colored lenses yet? If not, let’s do that real quick. It. Will. Cost. You. Maybe some money, certainly some time, definitely some energy, and absolutely some emotion, convenience, comfort and normalcy. No one ever said, “I want to foster so that my life will be the same.” No. Everything changes. It’s hard, and it's important to be aware of the costs; to not go into this wearing rose colored lenses. But here’s the point - we accept the costs to us as worth it for the gain a child may receive. That’s why we do this. And when it’s all said and done, don’t just count the costs you will incur if you do it without considering what it will cost these kids if you don’t. Perhaps the question you need to be asking is not "Can we afford to do this?" but rather "Can we really afford not to do this?" A slightly different question with significantly different implications. Read more here.

5. HOW DO WE KNOW IF WE’RE READY?

Prepare and get ready, but be ready to not be fully ready. I’ve never met a foster parent that *felt* completely capable or ready; but everyone of them have been available and willing. That’s what it took. Many who ARE capable don’t always FEEL it. Fear lies and paralyzes. It keeps a lot of good people away from a lot of great kids. So, how do you know if you’re “called” or “ready”? When you know just enough to be afraid of it but too much to let fear have the final say about it. This means you don’t wait for fear or worry to subside before you act; you simply choose to fight forward so that fear loses and kids and families win. What if you started to assume the answer was "yes" until you heard a "no", rather than "no" until you heard a "yes"? A lot would change. It might just change what you do next. Read more here.

FINISH READING THIS POST HERE.

Into The Jordan Ministries

This year we’ve added a new Every Child Initiative partner, Into the Jordan Ministries, and we’ve asked them to introduce themselves to us! Here’s Joann Medinilla, their director, with an important message for us all.


Greetings Summit Church, My name is Joann Medinilla and I am the director of a local ministry here in southwest Florida called Into the Jordan. We are a Christ-centered program and work directly with survivors of human trafficking. We strive to empower our survivors by providing opportunities for healing, education, employment, and stable housing. Our approach is holistic, trauma-informed, Biblically based and free of charge!

Our organization was founded in 2013 by Christa Hicks, a survivor of human trafficking. Since then God has put together a team of talented women who have a deep desire to see survivors overcome.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness month and while recent movements like #MeToo have begun to shed light on crimes like sexual harassment and assault, the buying and selling of our youth largely remains hidden.

Sex trafficking is spoken of as “the new slavery”, but there’s nothing new about it- it’s as old as time. The new parts, however, are the channels through which buyers partake, and avenues through which traffickers find and lure their victims. Social media, the internet, neighborhood hangouts, the mall, clubs, bars, schools- these are the places traffickers are actively trolling.

Sex trafficking thrives because there is a serious demand. Buyers fuel the market with their money. Traffickers or “pimps” exploit victims for the buyer’s money. Victims include both boys and girls, sold for profit. Eradicating human trafficking starts with acknowledging that it exists. It is a billion dollar industry that enslaves women and men, and Florida ranks third highest in the nation!

The definition of sex trafficking is human trafficking in which someone uses force, fraud, or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult, or to cause a minor to commit a commercial sex act. Sex trafficking does not require movement or transporting. Many minors are victimized right out of their own homes without parents or guardians being aware. Commercial sex acts include pornography, prostitution, or sexual performance done in exchange for any item of value-things like money, drugs, shelter, food, or clothing.

The common age a child enters sex trafficking is between 12 and 16 years of age- too young and naive to realize what is happening.

What would God have us do where the needy, oppressed and victimized are concerned? I believe the answer is found in Proverbs 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”

We work daily with survivors to provide a place for them to find healing and promote a sense of self-efficacy. We stand beside them and offer mentorship and advocacy. Through weekly Bible studies and life skill groups our ladies learn that God has a purpose and a plan for each of their lives. Here they find community and a sense of belonging. They can encourage each other and be encouraged by others’ success stories.

I have stood in awe as I have watched the transformation of lives over the past five years. Not only has God grown our meeting space, but He also saw fit to provide an upscale resale boutique that gives survivors an opportunity to learn important skills needed for the workforce. Through a private donor, we are blessed to have a transitional home which houses up to three ladies and their children. Participants live there rent free while saving for a home of their own.

So, what can YOU do to help abolish modern day slavery?

1. You can join us in praying for our ladies and the other women that are still out there. We have weekly prayer times that you can join or you can pray on your own.

2. Educate yourself and your family. Encourage your daughters to be alert and vigilant when using social media and in public places. Teach your sons to respect women and their bodies, and avoid the objectification of women.

3. Get involved. There are lots of opportunities available in our ministry from donating hygiene items to working directly with our ladies. You can checkout a list of opportunities on our website www.intothejordan.org and click on the volunteer tab at the top of the page or email us at staff@intothejordan.org . We would love to have you partner with us. Together we can end modern day slavery.

If you would like to learn more about our ministry I encourage you to visit us online at www.intothejordan.org or call 239-308-0434.

Warm regards,
Joann Medinilla

What is the Every Child Initiative

ECI Instagram post.jpg

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

Image.jpg

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

Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 6.31.58 PM.png

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!

IMG_6253.JPG


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!

IMG_8696.JPG

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?

annie-spratt-464746-unsplash.jpg

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