International (MNN) — In a world where a new definition of family is heavily celebrated, most people agree with–and statistics support–the claim that a loving family is the best place for a child to grow up.
Bethany Christian Services seeks to provide loving, Christian family homes for foster kids and adopted children.
Brian DeVos, Vice President of Child and Family Services with Bethany Christian Services, shares some of the trends of the past year and what next year looks like for the organization.
Trends of 2014
DeVos says, “One trend is that we work really closely with the church to help us recruit families needed for those kids, and that’s been a real success.”
He explains that there is a similar trend in countries overseas. “We’re working with the faith communities in other countries like Ghana, South Africa, Ethiopia, and China to kind of develop systems of care for kids so they can be in a loving family.” Children thrive in loving families, he says.
Both locally and across the world, Bethany seeks to educate congregations about the needs of orphaned or vulnerable children and how the churches can respond in their own community.
“Families that are in faith communities, or Christian families: we know that children who grow up in families that are Christian will obviously be exposed to the love and compassion of Jesus, and that’s a great place for them to learn about our Heavenly Father that loves and cares for them,” DeVos says.
Things look pretty grim if good homes cannot be found.
“If we don’t reach these kids who are without a loving family,” DeVos says, “we have some statistics that talk about the odds that are against them, and they run into many, many challenges. So in the U.S, there are about 20,000 kids that age out of foster care that don’t have a loving family.”
What do these statistics suggest? DeVos says it’s an uphill battle: “When they don’t have those families, they are at a greater challenge. It doesn’t mean they can’t make it, [but] but it’s very difficult without that base. And you’ve got the same thing overseas when you see some of the stats of many kids that age out of orphanages. The odds are against them, when it comes to child trafficking and getting involved in illegal activities.”
DeVos says that family is natural protection designed by God. A family can guide children, keep them safe, help them grow up to be independent, and use their God-given gifts to the best of their ability.
Fostering isn’t for everyone
Foster care adoption isn’t the only way for the Christian community to help. Bethany recognizes that it is a special calling for families who can foster a child.
Some very practical ways you can be involved is to become a mentor and role model for kids who are aging out of the adoption and foster care systems. You can also volunteer at a school to tutor these children. As a church, you can do simple things like organize gifts or prayer sessions. It’s up to your imagination as to how your church can be involved in orphan ministry.
Bethany estimates that next year they’ll need about 600 families in the United States to become foster families. They are also looking for families overseas.
To get connected with Bethany and participate in any of the ways mentioned above, you can call them at (800) 238-4269, or visit their Web site. Click here.