In the book of Ephesians Paul writes, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children”. (Ephesians 5:1) We have witnessed this reflection of God’s love to vulnerable children and families change the communities we live in.
Our story began with the loss of our daughter Violet and then with two miscarriages that followed. Our late pastor gave my husband and I wise counsel. He said, “This experience will either tear your marriage apart or bring you to your knees together”. I remember finding comfort in his words, yet not understanding their full meaning. I felt a closeness with God through that season no words can describe. My husband would often say to me that God was preparing us for something, but through my grief I was not able to see it clearly.
As time went on we began to talk about this desire we had to adopt, and together we started the process to become licenced in our state. Soon after we were licenced, we took in our first placement and were immersed in the mess. God quickly opened our eyes to the brokenness in our state’s foster care system. I began to pray and ask God about “my assignment”. Asking why so many children were hidden away in our communities and what could be done? It was then that the sleepless nights began and my desire to learn more about children and families in our community grew. I spent every waking moment researching and discovering ways that the church could serve the foster care community. I talked to every person I found across the country who was involved in foster care ministry. I met with our church leadership and shared with them this vision God was revealing to me.
God then began to move, bringing people together from churches all over southern Maine. Our ministry team was formed and began doing a 6 week study of “All in Orphan Care”. We had deep discussions and prayer, building our ministry plan. Through my research I found The Forgotten Initiative and began to explore the role of an advocate right here in Southern Maine. That year I began the application process and became New England’s first TFI advocate.
The Forgotten Initiative (TFI) resources, supports and networks Advocates across the nation, helping them grow sustainable foster care ministries in their communities. Advocates mobilize local churches to serve the foster care community through service projects, mentoring and family support initiatives.
In our community in Southern Maine, there are not enough foster homes to care for children who are coming into care. Children are sleeping in hotel rooms, shelters, and crisis units. Foster parents and Adoptive Parents feel isolated and are burned out from the difficult work they are doing. There are hundreds of children awaiting adoption and too many children aging out of the foster care system without a family.
As we began to serve the foster care community, I saw a need to holistically serve families who were at-risk, as well as adopted children and their families. Our community began to experience the weight of the opioid crisis and God gave me new eyes to see. The vision before me was BeLoved. BeLoved is more than just an organization or a group of churches. It IS the church, God’s people, living out James 1:27, recklessly loving those in need. BeLoved became a movement, not just through prayer, but through action.
We are a people called to defend the fatherless…to care for the child that has no family…to visit orphans. The Bible is clear about our call to defend the fatherless.
Today, BeLoved is growing and has since become an affiliate ministry of Vision New England. We travel, speaking at churches and sharing our story. We gather and listen to the heart of the issue. Wherever God leads us, we go. Through our work with TFI and Beloved, we have seen families come to know Jesus, find hope, grow in service, and find deep, meaningful connections with each other.
We want to provide hope for the forgotten in our community. We want to be a voice for children. We want to provide support to foster and adoptive families through tangible ways the church can care for these families. We seek to advocate for change within the state system, and come alongside all those involved in OCFS to encourage them. We want to be the hands and feet of Jesus to families in our community through our work with BeLoved.
We have all been given unique gifts and talents by our father in heaven to carry out the work He has called us to. It is time for the church in New England to rise up and begin transforming communities with the gospel of Jesus Christ..
Jason Johnson said it well. He said, “The Church has both the duty and privilege to speak on behalf of and stand for the sake of those who cannot speak and stand for themselves, because that is exactly what God has done for us, through Jesus. That's the Gospel.” -Jason Johnson
It is so often more about our willingness to follow Jesus than our circumstance. We all can do something. It will require that we get a little uncomfortable, but God sent his only son to die a gruesome death for us. He loves us unconditionally, and because we were adopted into His family it changed the trajectory of our life. We have the power to do the same for vulnerable children in our own communities. They are NOT forgotten. The have the right to be safe, to be heard, and to be LOVED.
BeLoved exists to strengthen families through community partnerships, services, and programs.
To learn more visit www.belovedchildren.org
like us at https://www.facebook.com/belovedchildrenME/