Last week I had lunch with a group of church leaders around Tulsa to talk about how the church can help take care of the orphans that find themselves in foster care. For years the church has allowed the state to take care of this responsibility. Yes, we have had our children’s home, but it just met the needs of those children who fall through the cracks of the state program. The most common response from Christians is to adopt children internationally and to send money to help orphans in poor countries of the world. Those are great things but why are we closing our eyes to the need in our own backyard?
Not only has the church failed to help the state, the state has failed to reach out to the church for support. The state has struggled for years to have enough foster homes. It has struggled to have enough employees. It has struggled to have volunteers in shelters. Because of these struggles the children who find themselves in foster care, seldom because of any fault of their own, are the ones who suffer. Last Wednesday night there were 58 children in the shelter in Tulsa because they did not have enough families to place them. Finally, the state is asking the church for help.
The State of Oklahoma is partnering with communities of faith through the 111 project (www.111project.org). The needs are endless. There is a need for foster families, respite care providers, volunteers to help with paperwork in the DHS office, and for those who can support those who commit to be foster families. I believe there is a place for all of us. Will you pray about how God can use you to help with this serious problem?
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)