caring for carers
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ
There's that saying that goes, "those who can't, teach." Well, today I want to change it and say that , "Those who can't, support". That's the Christian way. Paul advocated for this when talking to the early church. He suggested that those who were unable to go for missions could still participate in the work of Christ by supporting missionaries. There is something glorious that happens when the church wraps around people who are actively participating in ministry. It's one of the ways that we show the church our true colors. Jesus himself told us that our love for one another would show the world that we are His disciples. As a recipient of the wonderful love of a community of Christ, I can attest to this.
I remember feeling especially vulnerable and overwhelmed 9 months ago when we brought home our newborn son after 5 days of labour (that's a story for another day). There we were, in a flat in london, feeling isolated from our family in Kenya, when we got a text. It was a friend from church saying they were popping by to drop us a ready cooked meal. Over the next few weeks, different people from church dropped off home-cooked meals, giving us just the break and sustenance we needed during that crucial time of caring for a newborn. At the time we needed it the most, our church family had wrapped around us like real family and cared for us. How beautiful it is to experience God's love through his chosen people.
Things like this have become part of church tradition. We, as a body of Christ seem to have learned how to care for newborn parents in this beautiful way. This makes me wonder if we can find another thoughtful and caring way to care for fostering and adoptive parents among us. How can we be there for these parents who have answered the call of God to open up the boundaries of their families to love children who have had difficult pasts? Research has shown that having a strong social support system is an essential factor for successful fostering.
I'll say what you're probably thinking. Where would we even start? Do you have any ideas, Dorothy? Well, I dont' have any ideas but if there is a parent of a care-experienced child in your congregation, I'm sure they would be able to give you an answer if you asked. My hope and prayer is that we can be the strong and supportive community they need. That we can help our children be warm, welcoming and compassionate to the care-experienced children who join our communities through these families. How much more richer would the ministry of these families be if we (you and I) took steps to support and care for them? This month, as part of foster care fortnight, we will be focusing on a 'fostering community'. We will hear from carers and their families on the different ways we can be part of their fostering community. I invite you to come on this journey with us as we explore how we can wrap around foster carers and support them. Let us say to our carers, "Let us walk with you as you walk with them."
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