The Bible talks about rewarding us for the simple giving of a cup of cold water, isn’t that amazing.
Then, when we come to the New Testament, we find that the rewards and the commands are very definite things like looking after widows and orphans, visiting prisoners, and generally being there for those who have not received justice.
The scripture then (and I think so many Christians and church communities miss it) actually talks about the fact that if we really love Jesus that will be demonstrated in practical ways, such as keeping his commandments.
Many of us are selective in what bits of scripture we see as important and those things we would like to skip over. One person said there are some part of Scripture I don’t want to read, it make me fee too guilty, I wonder how selective our understanding of Scripture, Jesus the word, and what being a Christian , being part of the church community, really means?
Did you know that in the UK each year usually around 40,000 babies, toddlers and young teens end up in the care of Social Services?
These youngsters, usually through no fault of the own, end up without the normal parents who can nurture, care, love and take note of their welfare. The reasons they are in this position are multitude. ; In fact too many to mention in a short article like this – but to name a few: death of parents, debilitating sickness of a parent and wrong use of chemical substances, like alcohol. Some are in the care system for short periods; I have seen some come into the system because a parent is in hospital, the other parent is at work all day to pay the bills, and there is not close relative with whom the child could stay.
On top of the 40,000 plus that do come I to the system there are usually around another 40,000 on the ‘at risk register’; that is youngsters whom are at risk of abuse or neglect and may end up in the care system.
When I first become aware of the need of these children, and at the time also leading a church, I went along with my wife and learnt how to become a Foster Carer. At the time I had no intention of doing the job; I just wanted to understand it. To cut a long story short we ended up foster for the borough and have had many, many young people pass through our hands in the 15 year or so that we worked with them.
Many Social service departments are looking for Foster Carers and I believe that such an appeal is being made in various areas at present. For around ten of the years during which I was Fostering for the local Authority, I held the position of Charing the borough’s Foster Care Association, I was aware that as each year passed we were always short on the amount of Foster Cares we needed, Sometimes we needed about an extra 12 carers; sometimes as many as 40. The then meant that some children ended up in a fairly impersonal children’s home while overworked social workers tried to find a better placement for them.
In the midst of our own initial training programme I began to think of all the people in our church that had a spare room and who, if they understood the need, could and maybe would be excellent Foster Carers. Actually, over the year, many of them ended up doing just that but I also began to think about how many Christians there would be in the wider UK Church Communities. Well, our population in the UK is over 60 Million and if just 5% of those are Christians, and it’s probably a lot more, that means there is likely to be around 3 million Christians in the UK, subscribing to all those scriptural things that I mentioned at the start of this article; and there are 40,000 children in need, like orphans that we are supposed to care for. So it seemed to me that if we really thought about it, believed the scriptures and become a doer of the word and obedient to His commandments, surely there wouldn’t be any shortage of Foster Carers, would there?
In my area we also had a problem of “strangers” in the community (strangers being the Old Testament Bible Word); refugees might be your word, or asylum seekers. Again we decided that Christians should do something about it. When we began our research, we discovered that our local Muslim Community had opened some fourteen homes to help these people. I enquired if there where any Christian ones. No-one knew of any, so we started our own. The Muslim community where very helpful and advised us where to go for this and that and who to approach to get advice. Now we have some 14 homes operating in the area: looking after some 30+ young people, but I did wonder why the Christians hadn’t picked up on this obvious need.
So what to do? Really we as Christians, as a Church Community, could do something about fostering couldn’t we? We have people and the resources. Why don’t you and your Church Community contact your local Social Service Fostering Department and take it to the next step. Let’s be obedient, and if we are there surely wont be any shortage in t the UK for Foster Carers will there? Let’s help with those young people’s lives, let’s care!
Adrian Hawkes is married to Pauline and they have 10 grandchildren. He is still part of the Rainbow Church North London which he used to lead. Adrian helped to form Phoenix Community Care Ltd, which looks after some 30+ unaccompanied minors, and vulnerable adults in housing in North London, and, alongside his wife Pauline established PCC Foster Care agency. www.phoenixcommunity.org
First published in the Summer of 07 in Face to Faith Magazine a magazine for Poole Bournemouth and Christchurch UK