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As we engage the foster care crisis, we remember that every person is created in the image of God. Therefore, each person has goodness and dignity within them — each wounded foster child, each struggling birth parent, each broken family. We value each life. Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest, writes, “The wrong idea has taken root in the world. And the idea is this: there just might be lives out there that matter less than other lives.” Every life has incredible value because of God.
We face the world as it is. God created this world good, but it has all been tainted by sin — by what we’ve done, by what’s been done to us, and by the brokenness that has taken hold of creation. Sin has the ability to destroy life through a vicious cycle of personal tragedy and failure, which is often seen in the “cycle of foster care.” By serving the foster care sphere, we are honored to link arms with birth parents who have likely suffered abuse, neglect or abandonment themselves, leaving them without the necessary resources to parent well. We are lights for Christ in this cycle of hurt brought on by our fallen world.
We put away the pointing finger (Isaiah 58:9) and put on love. Love heals what is broken and restores God’s goodness in each life. We love because God first loved us. We serve a Savior who showed us compassion when we were lost and without hope. He did not save us from far away, but drew near and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14). Our love for birth families is rooted in the compassion that Christ showed us. Henri Nouwen reminded us that compassion means “to suffer with”: “Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears, to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”
We love the church. We are convinced that God longs to bring healing and restoration to families through the body of Christ. God designed children to grow up in healthy families, but when families are in crisis, God wants to heal them through the church. No other community on earth has the privilege and the power to stand between what is and what shall be in the world. The church is the sign pointing to new creation, the foretaste of what it will be like when all is restored and an instrument by which God restores goodness in the world right now. We work with God to love and to heal, and we rejoice with God when families are restored.
We see family as a haven and refuge not only from the world but also for the world. Family is not an impermeable sanctuary that one must be born into but, instead, is a hospitable people who share a readiness to welcome others home. Children who have been harmed in relationship will only find healing in relationship. Therefore, families are the primary way to bring healing to vulnerable children.
We believe that every Christian and every church can participate in caring for the vulnerable. James 1:27 says, “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.” While we are all called to care for the vulnerable, those callings will be different: some will foster, some will adopt, and–just as importantly–some will support. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul calls the church “the body of Christ” in order to make a comparison to a human body. Just as the parts of our bodies must work together, so all believers and all communities of believers must use their diverse, God-given gifts to minister to the vulnerable. Some are called to foster, some are called to adopt and some are called to support, but we are all called.
We are committed to pursuing God’s restoration in the lives of the children we serve. Trauma affects everyone in tremendous ways, and healing is not quick. We enter the journey with realistic expectations, which means we prepare ourselves for a difficult and uncertain journey for the sake of the child. We are committed to being learners for how to parent children from hard places, and we will ask for support and resources during times of crisis.
The Bible is the inspired and infallible instrument for God’s authority being exercised in the world. We submit ourselves to the Spirit’s voice addressing us through scripture to correct error, heal brokenness, reveal God’s plan for restoration and release us for service to the world.
Emmanuel Free Methodist Church
3993 Fosterburg Road
Alton, IL 62002
Eldred Baptist Church
233 Cedar St.,
Eldred, IL 62067
500 Cross Ave.
Jerseyville, IL 62052