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Ministry Moments Blog
My first thought when I wake up is that I hope the car makes it where I need to be because I don’t have the money to fix it. Actually, that thought keeps me up at night. I can’t sleep when the bills aren’t paid. I have two children in school and one who I pay to send to daycare when I am at work or in class. The state can help with childcare costs, but it’s hard to qualify for it when work is infrequent.
I work for a healthcare agency that does not provide enough to maintain my monthly expenses. I am looking for other job opportunities, but I have been turned down many times because I have a criminal background from years ago. Most healthcare agencies won’t give me a chance, and every time I get turned down I feel like I am trapped by my past mistakes.
I live in a constant state of anxiety because there are many factors that can go wrong in my day. Will I have enough money for gas? Will I be able to pay for my cell phone bill? If I don’t have a phone my employer can’t call me. Are my kids doing okay? Am I going to get back to them in time? Should I choose to pay for gas or electric this month? Who will help if someone in my family gets hurt or sick? Who will care for my family if I get hurt or sick? I have recently have had an issue with my foot that has caused a lot of pain when I work. My only choice is to push through it and hope it doesn’t get worse.
I think about going back to college and about my children’s future and if they will struggle through life as I am. My hope for the future is to be given an opportunity to overcome, to move on from my past and to provide a better life for myself and my children.
Many moms experience financial stress like Pam*. A key theme and focus of the New Life Transitional Program is to help clients see a better hope for tomorrow. Each week they work with mentors to set goals and problem solve when a new crisis arises. Financial hardship can seem hard to escape, but God continually offers hope. Pray for moms like Pam to have the resources they need to support their families. *name changed
We’ve continued to ask different people to tell us about their “why” in their ministry area. Meet Stephanie Rasmussen, one of our Arms of Love licensing specialists. Stephanie has served at ABCS Arms of Love Foster Care for 1.5 years and has had experiences that span from childhood to adulthood have shaped her and shown her that God has prepared her to serve in this ministry. One such experience was meeting a student of hers who was struggling in the DCS system. This specific experience made her want to care for and help other children in similar situations. The biggest reward and the “why” for Stephanie is watching foster families work with biological families and seeing them develop an understanding and empathy for those families and their circumstances. She gets to see her foster parents put themselves in the shoes of the bio parents and extend them grace. Steph’s favorite verse is Ephesians 2:10, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. This verse shows God has a specific plan and goal for her life. She has seen there is a specific place and area that God has called her to in life and she is the only one that can fulfill that plan and role. At ABCs God has given her a specific role and area to minister and care for families and children in foster care.
We’ve continued to ask different people to tell us about their “why” in their ministry area. Meet Lauren Belcher, one of our Arms of Love licensing specialists. Lauren has served with Arms of Love Foster Care, a ministry of Arizona Baptist Children's Services & Family Ministries for 2.5 years and has been a foster parent for 6 years. She has always felt an overwhelming desire to show Christ’s love through meeting needs and ensuring the oppressed and needy are cared for. Working with Arms of Love Foster Care allows Lauren the chance to work with broken families and see God redeem their lives. The most amazing thing Lauren has seen in foster care is how Arms of Love foster families show Christ’s love to foster children and their bio families, as well as seeing the impact of that love in the life of both families. She has seen foster parents take bio families under their wing because that is what God has told them to do. Lauren’s favorite verse is John 16:33, I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. This verse gives hope that the things that we go through in this life are things that God has already overcome and that this world is not our home.
A devotion by Chris Steigerwalt, IT Specialist
We’ve continued to ask different people to tell us about their “why” in their ministry area, today we hear about IT from Chris Steigerwalt.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. - Ephesians 4:11-13
Over the past decade, I’ve been privileged to live out this passage by helping equip the body of Christ vocationally through my role as a shepherd/pastor. But this past year, God has really been challenging me to move outside the cultural box I’ve grown up in and reconsider what it really looks like to equip others. This journey has led me to step into the unknown and plant a church focused on this concept of equipping and making disciples.
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that God opened doors for me to serve in IT here at ABCS. My role as an equipper has been redefined to include the practical. By serving in IT, I am afforded the opportunity to literally give the tools and assistance needed for the body of Christ here at ABCS to accomplish ministry. I take joy in being a part of something bigger than myself.
For all of us, this is what we’re called to as Christ’s hands and feet. Whether we find ourselves as equippers or doers, let us not forget that we are given only one life with which to impact all of eternity. There is no small role within God’s kingdom and I pray that you will see your job as an opportunity to invest deeply in this kingdom. While we may encounter imperfect situations, people, and ongoing challenges as we seek to minister to the needs of our community, we can hold tight to the promise that there is coming a day when we will all stand united together as family because of Christ. How exciting it will be on that day to look around us and see the faces of clients whose lives, faith, and eternity were impacted in some small way by our work!
Recently an Arms of Love Foster Care leader reconnected with a family who fostered, adopted and closed their license through our agency. They had the privilege of adopting an adorable five-year-old boy and six-year-old girl. The children had few known issues and the family was ecstatic. Life seemed like it would move forward smoothly.
At the event where the family reconnected with our team, the ministry leader saw these sweet and beautiful children smiling and playing like the other children. However, the mother began to share how hard it had been parenting these children, and the many challenges that have affected their family and marriage. The angelic-looking little boy has temper tantrums, rages and is in trouble at school most of the time. Their little princess is doing better, but has some major heart issues. They would all benefit from family counseling. She further explained that she has reached out to the children’s therapist, subsidy worker and school counselor and they have offered little to no hope or help for their children. Her last question was, “Do you have any advice?”
Fortunately, this is a strong family who loves each other deeply and will not give up on their marriage or their children. This does not change the reality that they have some really hard and unexpected things to deal with, and feel very much alone. Sadly, this type of story occurs all too often for families who adopt children in the state’s care. They continue to see the effects of their children’s trauma. A sense of loneliness and helplessness can sometimes lead to dissolution of the adoption, resulting in the child re-entering state care. The cycle of trauma then continues.
This family would have benefited from a variety of continued services such as an assigned licensing specialist contacting them and advocating for services regularly, family counseling and possibly respite care. Unfortunately, there is no state funding for services benefiting adoptive parents. Many are left feeling alone to navigate the murky waters of life after adoption.
Arms of Love Foster Care launched an endowment campaign in March 2018 to ensure ministry will continue for years to come. We are praying that 100 donors will give $1,000 in March. We praise God that $27,000 has already been raised. Contributions to the endowment fund will enable staff to continue to offer support to families who adopt, helping them to feel encouraged and know they are not alone. This will ensure positive permanency in the life of a child. Please visit abcsfostercare.com/endowment to learn more.