Ministry wants every child to have a family

There are so many children benefiting from Bethany's work. (photo courtesy of Bethany Christian Services)

There are so many children benefiting from Bethany’s work. (Photo courtesy of Bethany Christian Services)

Int’l (MNN) — If you are not able to adopt a child, that doesn’t mean you can’t play an active role in adoption or foster care programs.

As they wrap up the year, Bethany Christian Services has a lot of encouraging memories to look back on. The progress that has been made for hurting families is felt around the world.

Bill Blacquiere of Bethany says, “What we’re really excited about is that more and more countries–and these are developing countries like in Africa and in Asia–are starting to offer foster care and foster to adoption, versus just letting children grow up in orphanages. And this is very exciting because Bethany has set our vision that every child should be part of a loving family.”

Some of the highlights of the year are focused around Africa. Blacquiere explains the exciting work in Ethiopia, one of the most active countries with foster care: “Bethany is very active with over 20 churches where we recruit foster families and foster-to-adopt families. Many of these families have now adopted children who were living in orphanages.”

Ghana and South Africa have been working on their own foster care programs as well. Uganda and Zambia are following quickly as they show interest in starting a foster care system.

As with any progress, Bethany’s work has been met with some struggle. “Some of the challenges are really convincing government and others that a child growing up in the family is the best place,” Blacquiere says.

On the flip side, there is an abundance of noble work being done to establish more orphanages all around the world. However,  Blacquiere explains that, though this is a good effort, something needs to be done to help the children long-term: “We believe from a Biblical principle, as well as research on how well children do, that it’s best for children to be brought up in families and not in institutions.”

Too many children remain institutionalized until they age out of the system, and they’ve had no training or support on how to enter society. In the United States alone, there are 115,000 children who are permanent wards of the state, waiting for the right family to come along and adopt them.

Some of the goals that Bethany has for the New Year are an effort to improve and progress foster care and to reduce the number of children who do not have a family.

There first campaign is called These 400. “These 400 are children from around the world who are waiting for a family. We have pictures, we have information, and we [really] want this campaign to be successful.” The goal is to get all of the children placed before 2015.

The other campaign is called NOW, meaning No One Without a family. This is to be focused on the Christian community in the United States. It is an effort to raise awareness of what children need to be adopted and get them connected. Also, Bethany hopes it will help reduce barriers of adoption.

One other interesting challenge Bethany has noticed is that many people have a negative look at Christians’ involvement in foster care and adoption. “During this past year, there has been criticism of the Christian community–and unfair criticism because people have said, ‘Well they’re only interested in taking in these children because they want to evangelize them.’ Obviously when a Christian family takes in a child, they’re going to take them to church, they’re going to teach them about the Bible. But the real motivation is to care for an orphan and to place them within a family.”

The Bible tells us that we need to care for the widow, the alien, and the orphan. If this is where you feel led to minister, Bethany is ready for your help.

Blacquiere encourages you to pray for their ministry. Specifically, prayer is needed for families for the children who are involved in their two campaigns. He also asks that you lift up the pregnancy counselors of Bethany as they work to fight abortion in unexpected pregnancies. Also, pray that the funds to continue the ministry would be provided. If you’d like to help out with that, click here. There are so many ways to partner with Bethany: click here to explore options.