James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” One of the most fundamental ways we are charged to show the love of Christ in this world is by being those that care about the “least of these” in our communities. Children displaced from their homes due to circumstances out of their control are among those closest to God’s heart. He calls us all to love those that have suffered trauma and unimaginable loss.
To sum it up, everyone who follows Jesus is called in some way to foster care and/or adoption.
This is not to say that we all are equipped and ready to open our home to children in need of a home, but it does mean that everyone can do something to show love to the orphans of our world.
We Can All Do Something
Imagine with me, a world where every Christ-follower did their part to show love to this population. What if we went out of our way to care for social workers, birth moms, biological families, foster parents, children in foster care, and children in need of a forever family!
There would be no more infamous “trash bags” for these kids to tote their small stash of goods into. There would be no more teenagers aging out of the foster care system with no one to help them. Foster parents would feel supported, rather than burnt out and alone. Social workers would feel so valued, rather than overworked and underpaid. Birth moms and families would have the help they need to parent even through their brokenness. There would be an abundance of safe, loving homes for birth moms to confidently place their children in if they are not able to raise them on their own.
There is so much we can do as Christians to step up and redefine what it means to be an orphan in this world.
Here are a few ideas of how you can step into this world and start loving these kids in your community.
4 Ways to Get Involved
1. Attend a Foster or Adoptive Parent Information Meeting
Every journey starts with taking that first step! The first step to becoming a foster or adoptive parent is getting information.
We became Foster Parents because we decide to attend a Foster-to-Adopt information meeting at our local DSS. We had it in our minds that we would step into this world when our biological kids were older but wanted to feel out what the process looks like so we could better pray over if this was something our family should “one day” do.
We left that meeting knowing God had called us to step out in faith and become foster parents right then! Without taking that first step we would have never had the courage to take the second step and beyond. The crazy thing is that I even brought in my mind a huge concern to the Lord; we didn’t have space in our home for more kids. God in his amazing way miraculously led me that same night to find the house that is now ours and has all the space we needed.
I share this because if God is calling you to take this specific step of faith, he is also capable of providing what you need. He loves the sweet babies that have been a part of our family enough to provide for them a house that is roomy and comfortable. While God may call you out of your comfort zone, he will not lead you to a place without giving you the tools you need to accomplish his tasks.
2. Get Involved with Local Nonprofits or Your Local Church
If you are not in a place in your life that you can open your home, that is entirely okay! Not everyone is called to step out in that specific way, but you can still show love to the orphans of your community. Seek out to discover what local nonprofits exist that support the Foster Care System and get involved.
If your local church has programs that support this community, jump in and see how you can help!
3. Pray for This Population
These families, kids, and the system need your prayers! There is such brokenness that causes family trees to be split apart and as Christ-followers we need to be praying for this part of our community. Prayer makes a way when there seems to be no way forward.
4. Show Love Through Gifts and Service
Show love by generously giving to those who are making this their life’s work and find ways to serve them. Foster care and adoption are filled with beauty and brokenness. While there is joy in loving these kids, it can be lonely, exhausting, and thankless work!
Bring meals, offer gift cards, donate hand-me-downs, write a note of encouragement, be willing to babysit, celebrate milestones, mentor, and whatever else God lays on your heart are all beautiful ways to love those in the trenches of caring for kids in foster care.
God Gives Us the Strength We Need to Do Uncomfortable Things
When we begin to practice pure religion, the Holy Spirit stirs us to do things that feel uncomfortable! We are prompted to consider our time, energy, money priorities, and capacity through a new lens.
Pure religion pushes people to live lives that feel bigger than us; because when we live by God’s rules and not by what feels reasonable, our capacity grows.
I 100% know this to be true because there is absolutely no way I could live my life without the power of the Holy Spirit. This fact is terrifying but is a clue that I am living the kind of life the Bible calls me to.
I am a woman who, when I lived by my own strength, lost my temper, nearly divorced my husband, was ravaged by anxiety and depression, and ultimately had no ability to live my own life well.
Yet, somehow by God’s amazing grace, here I am still married, homeschooling, raising children, and opening our home as foster parents.
I am in awe of the fact that God is able to use me, a woman marked by brokenness and sin, to love on kids that require more of me than what may feel reasonable to the logic that rules our world.
All of this to say: God uses imperfect people to show his perfect love to this world. Whatever it is that God has laid on your heart, it is easy to mentally disqualify yourself because of your failures. But the best news is that if you are living a Spirit-led life, nothing God calls you to is done by your own strength.
I am able to get “too-attached,” to trust God that my biological children will be okay even if they experience heartbreak at the hands of the “system,” endure sleepless nights for the sake of a baby born by another mother, and so many other hard things… not because I am especially gifted, but because I have chosen to be obedient to God’s call for my life!
He has given me the strength I need to endure the challenges this road brings, and my life is so much richer, fuller, and joy-filled in this tough place than I could have ever imagined.
This is the backward logic of the Kingdom of God – when things look like they are too much because they require “sacrifices” on our part, they often turn out to be the path to discovering God’s joy in a new amazing way.
Here is my encouragement to you: whatever it is God is calling you to; don’t let fear stop you from obedience. Proverbs 31:25 says, “Strength and honor are her clothing; she is confident about the future.” We can be sure that God will strengthen us with all we need for the future he has planned for us, so we can step forward with confidence.
Let’s take the Bible seriously and practice the pure religion that shows unreasonable love to the orphans, marginalized, lonely, broken, and least of these of our world.
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Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.