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Ministry Moments Blog
Devotion written by David Trenbeath, Director of Finance & Facilities, Central region
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. – 2 Timothy 2:1-2
I recently had the opportunity to observe a Parent Aide one-on-one session. It was my first time witnessing direct client interaction in our Parent Aide program, so I was really excited to see what it looked like. I was blown away. In the two-hour window, I observed counseling, teaching, moments of laughter and a full-blown gospel presentation. I know not all sessions are like that, the majority may not be like that, but my key take away was this: the gospel message that Christ is victorious over sin and death must always be what drives us if we are true followers of Christ, and then we are called to share that good news with others.
After the visit, I went back to the office and started thinking if that key point is what drives me every day. If somebody asked me, I would respond with a, "yes". The gospel impacts me every day because I accepted Christ into my heart at a young age. But in reality, there are many days where I act like the gospel has no power at all and I am overcome with the problems of the day. I so easily forget that Christ didn’t just die for the young me, but he also died for me today, tomorrow and for the rest of my life. As Paul talks to Timothy in the verses above, he explicitly tells him to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Our walk will not be easy as believers, so we daily need to find our strength in Christ and allow grace to win over our deficiencies. Once we allow ourselves to experience the gospel each day, we then need to respond by telling others. If you have direct interaction with non-believers, you tell them. If you work with believers, you need to remind them of the gospel and spur them on in their walk so they may tell others. We are called to disciple and sharpen one another as fellow believers, so don’t miss the opportunity to do so every day.
This story was written by foster dad Mark De Young in the summer of 2018.
“Imagine that someone blindfolded you, asked you to strap into an unfamiliar roller coaster and told you to enjoy the ride. Would you be screaming to get the safety harness loose and bolt out of the ride before the car started up the track, or would you be saying a quick prayer of 'HELP ME GOD!' as you tightly grasped onto the safety bar of the car as it clicked up the track? Welcome to the life of faith in God as a foster parent.
My wife Rachael and my first experience on the roller coaster of foster care started in 2016 as we anxiously anticipated the arrival of our first foster child. Even though we could not physically have children, we knew in our hearts that God gave us the occupations of being a social worker and a teacher in order to make a difference in the lives of children. The roller coaster crested to the top of the hill when our first foster son arrived on our doorstep and quickly plummeted straight down as he immediately went into his bedroom and began to damage walls by kicking and throwing objects. Amazingly, as I sat in tears of shock, God provided a prayer team to visit my house that very night to provide the assurance that I needed to continue on the ride. Throughout the year and a half of careening around blind corners of lying, stealing and running away from home to be returned by the police, God was working in our foster son. He was able to complete a full day of school without behavior issues, found a passion for science, greatly increased his reading skills and shared his intent to be baptized. My wife and I began to enjoy the ride and realized that transformation can occur with any child with faith in God and love. However, our foster ride quickly spiraled seemingly out of control in 2017 as our foster son battled depression. He ended up in the emergency room of the hospital for self-harm and threatening the life of my wife and me. Meanwhile, I ended up bawling to the hospital security guard out of pure panic, frustration and anger with God. Why did he put us on that ride only to go through the dips and flips and leave us without a child to adopt as our foster son moved to a facility to provide him the help that he needed?
It took a solid two months for my wife and me to process the wild ride that we endured with our first foster son. Conversations with our pastors and prayer from our friends helped to heal the wounds and quell the fear of distrust of the foster care system. Ultimately, God called us to get back in line for a second try at the fostering roller coaster.
I am blessed to say that experiencing the wildness of the first ride greatly prepared us for the second attempt with our foster daughter. Rachael and I knew to hang on tightly in prayer as the dips, flips and unexpected turns occurred and our fright turned into more of an excited anticipation. God took my tears of panic and frustration in the hospital waiting room and turned them into tears of pure joy in the courtroom when the judge finalized the adoption of our daughter in 2018.
Our ride is not over. My family is in a time of transition as we are working on strengthening each other as a family unit with faith in God. Honestly, we don’t know if we will ever get back in line to foster again. If God calls us to get back in line for another adventure, in faith, all three of us will strap in, hold on tight and say our prayers as that coaster car of foster care clicks up the track.”
This story was written by Jacob*, a foster father. “We were in our final interview of the foster care licensing process when our licensing worker asked if we would take on three little girls. When we thought of these three babies, (6 months, 18 months and almost 4 years old) in need of a home together, we knew we needed to seriously consider taking them. Of course at first, we were both a little worried. Three kids! We had zero children, having found out that biological children wouldn’t be possible for us. But we joyfully decided to follow our lifelong dreams of being foster and adoptive parents, exclusively. We prayed about these girls and right away felt like, hadn’t we said yes to them when we said yes to God about fostering in the first place? I just remember the thought that we had a place to house them, food to feed them and a place for them to sleep... so how could we just turn them away?
Not to say that going from zero to three kids was easy! It wasn’t! But during the time that we had them, (we called them “our three girlies”,) it really showed me what God can do. Here we were, newlyweds still and in over our heads with three children from hard places with big needs and big feelings. The three sisters definitely showed us the highs and lows of fostering. They forced us to grow quickly and we learned so much, the most important lesson being what God can do when you say yes.
There are many emotions that you will feel as a first-time foster parent: discouragements, fear of not being up to par, unrealistic expectations, guilt, stress and heartbreak. There is also the laughter, fun, joy of watching your children succeed and grow and the intense love! Being a parent is all that and much more mixed together. It’s definitely a learn-as-you-go thing. It is a beautiful tornado.
We grew to love these girls in such a short time. I remember how protective I felt of them the moment we met them in the shelter and how the love grew every day from then on. There is nothing that compares to the love and feeling we got from seeing each little child smile and progress every day. We co-parented well with biological family and worked together for the good of the girls.
On the day we had finally picked up our girls from the shelter, our licensing worker said to us, 'Foster care is having a really good day today.' Then, we told her the same thing on the day we drove them home to their biological family. The face our oldest daughter made on that drive, I’ll never forget. For her, it was extreme relief and joy of going home for good. We felt that too! It also broke our hearts a little. To be honest, in that moment I felt like I couldn’t face the heartache of going through the loss again.
We took a short break and weren’t even sure that we could handle another placement. Our marriage, nerves and hearts had been through the wringer. Don’t let anyone trick you into believing that fostering or parenting in general is easy, because it’s not. But we did one thing that I hope to pass on to others as advice... We prayed and confided in God. God opened up our hearts again and helped us to see the good that we did in those three sweet girls' lives.
Now we have our girl Penny* who we picked up from the placement center when she was two days old. She turned one year old in April. She is the most amazing little girl and we couldn’t be more in love. Through the roller coaster of her health concerns and a very tricky case, never once did I question if she is my family. I know in my heart that she is my daughter and she sees me as her father. She has blessed our lives immensely.
For me, fostering has brought me closer to God. There’s no way that my entire life I’ve been in the right place at the right time and had everything fall in line just by chance. It took God to align everything perfectly so that I could be the man I needed to be for my family. God worked everything for good in my life and in the lives of each of our four daughters.
God taught my wife and me how to be parents and how to face challenges as a couple and a team. There’s no way we could have been who we needed to be for these girls and for their birth families had we not had God there with us. God has moved some serious mountains in all of our lives. We have seen more miracles than we can count.
We don’t know exactly what the future will bring. But we are sure that eventually, it will include more children. We feel the calling toward older kiddos needing a safe home, and that is God talking to us directly. We are in tune to God now more than ever. We understand His love as a Father in a new way.
My heart went from being fearful and worried about how all this was going to work out to being strong in my faith and marriage. We have been so blessed with the sweet smiles and laughter of our precious kids. Fostering can sometimes be held as this thing that people do as a gift to children, but we see fostering as God’s gift to us. He’s taken imperfect people and used us to make a difference in the lives of children and families.”
*names changed for confidentiality
Devotion written by Raquel Williams, Statewide Director of New Life Pregnancy Center
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And the recognized that they had been with Jesus. - Acts 23:13
Read Acts 23
In Acts 23 we see how God is using Peter and John to teach and proclaim the name of Jesus all while facing persecution. As we read this passage, it comes to a point where the council calls them out and asks Peter and John “by what power or name do you do this?” It is then that Peter and John boldly respond without hesitation nor fear as to what further persecution they could face. With boldness, they proclaim the name of Jesus Christ and that salvation is found in him and no one else. At that moment the council recognized that these two ordinary men are true Jesus followers; they have clearly spent time with Jesus as they spoke in boldness the things that they had “seen and heard.”
As we go along our day, week, year, what are the things that we are seeing and hearing? What is our source? Peter and John spent time with Jesus; he was their source. They learned from him and it was clearly recognized that they spent time with Jesus as they spoke boldly when confronted. When people see and interact with me can they recognize that I have spent time with Jesus? Do my life, my words, and actions reflect Christ?
Let us learn from Peter and John’s example. Let us be people of a BOLD faith. Let us delve in God’s word and spend time with Jesus so that we may make him known.
“Almost five years ago, I was lost, confused, fearful and contemplating abortion. Pregnant with twins and with two preteens left me speechless. I was ashamed of myself. I did not know how I would raise four children alone. That all changed because of New Life Transitional Program. I was able to redefine my relationship with God in my life and I had a team of ladies to help me in some of the hardest years of my life.”
“After graduating from the program I had new goals, new strength and I found my voice again. I was proud of myself. God blessed me with a home, a new career and I was accepted into the ASU School of Social Work graduate program. Fast forward to now, I have two teens and two toddlers. I will be graduating from ASU with a Master’s Degree in Social Work this May with a 3.5 GPA. My twins will be promoted to kindergarten this August. My second oldest is beginning high school as a freshman and my oldest will be a sophomore. I am always asked, or the statement is made, ‘I don’t know how you do it?!’ I just simply smile and say if it were not for my support system, prayer and trusting that God will make a way, I’m not sure I could do it. My life has had many difficulties, but I am a survivor, I love my life and my healing. Without New Life Transitional Program, my story couldn’t be what it is.”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.“
The New Life Transitional Program has been a ministry of ABCS since 2012. Nearly 30 individuals have graduated since the ministry began. The program requires a one to two year commitment, as participants receive Christ-centered mentoring, counseling and life skills.