What is God’s Heart for Family?
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)
Stephen has been struggling in school, he is often tired and many times tardy. He is made fun of for his hygiene and the fact that his clothes are not clean. At 14 years old, Stephen is expected to face some struggles as he navigates life; developing his identity and maturity. However, caring adults are now discovering the reason for Stephen’s struggles. He lives at home with his mom and four younger siblings. He doesn’t know who his dad is or where to find him and while his mom is in the home, she is rarely present. She struggles with mental health issues and recently substance abuse which causes her to isolate herself most of the time. She tries her best, but things have become worse – the house is littered with dirty laundry, spoiled food fills the sink and onto the counters. Stephen does what he can, especially for the youngest child, but it is proving to be too much and now he hears that the state may be moving him away if his mom cannot improve their home life.
This is a familiar story for many of the 9000 children currently involved in the foster care system. A family struggling for a variety of reasons is disrupted and shaken. These children go to foster homes where they process their trauma, and wait for some sort of resolution. Today there is a shortage of over 1500 foster homes, which often leads to children having multiple changes in foster homes or even staying in hotels with social workers.
Not all families get involved in the foster care system however; there are many who are struggling with issues that don’t rise to the level of needing state intervention, but need assistance, nonetheless. Families experiencing marital issues, divorce or navigating blended family relationships; financial issues; some parents having to work 2 or more jobs and not being available to their kids. Add single parent households to those dynamics and the stressors amplify.
The Church has a unique calling to love neighbors like Stephen and many others who struggle under the radar. The Church has the capacity to provide shelter, food, finances, counsel, mentorship and a myriad of other support possibilities. The question to consider is: What role do I play?
Join me in praying for families in need in our communities. Lord we pray for:
The foster care crisis in our state and nation. May the Church continue to rise up and help support and restore broken families
Strong parents. We pray for rest, strength, vision and unified hope between parents
Single parent families and displaced families.
-Anibal Ruiz, Olive Crest