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Ministry Moments Blog
Noemi, Mia's aunt:
On September 20, 2016, we received a call that my beautiful niece Mia Bella was born. She was a few weeks early and had some complications. Mia was born with methamphetamines in her system because my niece, her biological mother, is a serious drug user. So Mia had a rough start at the beginning of her life.
Unfortunately Mia was put in the foster system because there were no relatives to take her in Arizona. I live in California, so I was not able to just bring her home with me. I needed to go through a long interstate licensing process. I was already going through it with Mia’s older brother Aiden and had to take foster and adoption classes to adopt both Aiden and Mia.
When Mia was going to be released from the hospital we were told she would be going to a foster home. I got upset thinking she was going to a stranger’s house and not coming home with us. I was so angry at Mia’s biological mother for putting Mia through all of this and honestly had some resentment towards a foster family I didn’t even know. I didn’t know if they were going to love Mia the way that we already loved her! You hear lots of bad things that happen when children are in foster care and so little about the good things. We were fortunate to be able to meet Mia's foster family, the Portillos, at the hospital. They are a young couple with three children of their own and another foster child. The Portillos were very nice, kind and understanding, but I still had my guard up. My heart sank when they took Mia away, but the Portillo’s invited us to their home to visit with Mia before we headed back to California, which was very nice of them.
When we arrived at their home, they welcomed us with open arms. I felt a sense of love, and peace. We met their three lovely children and foster child. There were lots of emotions going on for us as well as the Portillo family. I was afraid to leave Mia behind but I had to leave it in God’s hands that he was going to make sure she would be safe. Mia's foster parents were very understanding of our feelings and wanted what was best for Mia. They said they would take care of her, and they have.
Mia has been with the Portillos for seven months now. I know, I feel it in my heart and soul, that they have loved her the way we love her, they have taken care of her the way we would have, they have loved her as if she was one of their own. For that I will forever be grateful! I feel that not only are the Portillos Mia’s foster parents, they are family. We have gained a new family in our lives, and I thank God for that! I believe everything happens for a reason, and I truly believe the Lord put the Portillo family in our path of life. The resentment I first felt has turned into love, and the worry has turned into trust!
I can honestly say that this experience has given me hope for other children in the foster system, especially when they have foster parents like Stephanie and Ricky Portillo! It has given me hope for foster children to be taken care of and loved the way Mia has been. I am grateful for this experience because I have gained a new family to love. We are truly blessed to have the Portillo family as a part of our own family.
Foster family: The Portillos
When my husband and I first starting thinking of fostering about two years ago we had so many mixed emotions about it. We were excited to care for these children by providing them a stable, loving home and giving our unconditional love, but at the same time we felt terrified of the fact that they would eventually leave and it would be completely out of our control. It took a couple months, but with constant prayer and seeing how much of a need there was for this ministry we knew without a doubt this was definitely a calling that we couldn’t ignore. We realized it wasn’t about us or the attachment we would develop while these children were in our care, but it was the love of Christ we would be able to display to them and their families. It has now been a year that we have been fostering and I can say we absolutely have no regrets.
Our very first placement came the same day we got licensed, two siblings under the age of three. They were with us for just over a month, but we were so grateful to show them the love of God in the short amount of time we got to spend with them. Our next placement came about two months later, an eleven-day-old precious baby girl, who is still with us today. About a month later we received another call. We were asked if we were willing to take in a four-day-old straight from the hospital. Without hesitation we said yes, but what we didn’t know was that we weren’t only gaining another baby girl, we were also gaining another family, her family.
The day we went to pick her up we were told her family wanted to meet us. Feeling nervous about the situation, we still said yes. We knew that their feelings for us were not going to be the greatest since we were taking their precious baby girl, but we were willing to take that chance. Upon meeting them, we found out that they were from California and that was the reason they couldn’t take her home. To know that this tiny helpless baby had a family that loved and cared for her but could not take her was so heartbreaking. I could tell how scared they were to have to leave her with complete strangers, so I asked them if they wanted to come over to our home to see her before they left. They were so grateful for the invite and we were excited to meet more of our family. It turned out to be a great time. My husband and I assured them that she was in great hands and we were here to love her as our own.
At the time we were not sure how long we would have her, but we assured them that they were always welcome to come visit whenever they wanted. They left with a heavy heart but at peace that this wouldn’t be the last time they got to see her. It has been eight months now, and our relationship with them has grown greatly. I would have never imagined that we would gain a whole new family through this. They constantly remind us that they will forever be thankful for what we are doing for Mia and that we will always be a part of her life. I can honestly say this is what is getting us through this transition. Knowing that it won’t be a good bye but see you soon is a great feeling. I know this won’t be the case with all our placements, but I know this will definitely be our prayer.
A devotion by Mona McDonald, Vice President of Pursue Life Adult Ministries
Core Value: Be a good steward with what we have been given.
Each of you should use whatever gift you received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. – 1 Peter 4:10
One of my friends is a gifted artist. She teaches others what she knows, sells and gives away much of her beautiful work and then creates more. As a Christ-follower, one of her other gifts is being a faithful encourager. Years ago, she sent a scripture passage tightly rolled and placed in a ceramic vase to a pastor serving on a faraway island. This gift was intended to encourage him to not give up in doing good and he placed the gift on his bookshelf as a reminder. God gives his children gifts to be used for the benefit of others. What gift(s) have you and I been given to manage and who is benefiting? You and me, or others? Stewardship is a significant responsibility. When we understand our responsibility to be good stewards, we feel the weight of it. It compels us to give our best to what we’ve been given*. My friend creates with the intentions of encouraging others and pointing them to God. The important principle about stewardship is that it’s not about the amount we’ve been given but about managing well what we have*. Imagine the surprise and the rare blessing that took place, while on a recent international trip with my artist friend, when this pastor met the artist who encouraged him so long ago. Let’s be faithful today with what we have and use it to serve one another.
*Taken from The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership by Jenni Catron
A devotion by Andrea Stuart, Vice President of Staff Services and Care
Core Value: Build relationships through trust and respect.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ - Luke 10:27
Being able to build relationships with others relies upon our relationship with God. We must love Him first and foremost and then out of that love comes the ability to love others. We find the ability to trust others and respect them well when our identity is secure in Christ. If we remember that we are wholly loved, we are able to show grace, trust Him with circumstances and have a heart for people that might appear difficult to love. It is in loving people in light of His love that provides an opportunity for our relationships to show His glory. We can be consistent in trust and respect with others because He consistently loves and is trustworthy. I forget sometimes that I can build relationships on such a solid foundation, that is all about Him and not about what I can do for Him. Let’s take the time to remember the importance of this core value and Christ’s foundational importance in it today.
A devotion by Michelle Clements, Vice President of Development & Communications
Core Value: Honor God in all we do.
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father - Colossians 3:17
This ABCS Core Value is easy enough to understand – it means that we should bring honor to God in every aspect of our work and daily living. But how easy is it to live like this? As Christians we represent Christ to an unbelieving world and to other believers in everything we say and do. Ask yourself, “What is my life saying about Christ? How am I representing Him when people see me or talk with me?” Eek. My guess is that most of us have a twinge of conviction following these questions, or in certain seasons a tidal wave of conviction. The passages proceeding Colossians 3:17 call on us to put our earthly nature to death and instead clothe ourselves with virtues such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. This is not possible independent of Christ as our righteousness is found in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21) As sinners we are going to fall short of honoring God in all we do, but we can repent and turn back to God, and rest in the assurance that “…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
A devotion by Chris Chan, Assistant Executive Director
ABCS Mission Statement: Providing hope and care to hurting children and families through Christ-centered ministries.
The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." - Matthew 25:40
In verses 35-36, Jesus says the righteous care for the physical needs of people by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, taking in the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting both the sick and the imprisoned. He then points out that the righteous care for the "least of these," the lowly in society which often included the sick, the poor, widows and orphans, and the neglected. Then comes the clincher: serving the lowly in this manner is our expression of serving the King Himself. Today, people struggle with the same physical needs listed in this passage. And we also have the "least of these" in our society: the poor, the hungry, the elderly, the orphans, the neglected and abused, the unborn, the imprisoned… My prayer is that we will be deemed righteous by the King for caring for the least of these as we fulfill the ABCS mission: Providing hope and care to hurting children and families through Christ-centered ministries.