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Fostering Hope for Children in Need

by | Tue, Sep 8 2020

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Foster family

When Mary Dickins and her husband started fostering, they were the only foster family in their Church. They wondered why it wasn’t a bigger part of the conversation in their community. After all, the Bible says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world”. James 1:27 (NKJV)

Bishop Aaron Blake had the same question in mind one Sunday morning, when he abandoned the sermon he’d prepared, and instead asked the congregation: “Who will stand with me to defend, care, and support abused, abandon, and neglected children in our community”? Fifteen years later, that province in Dallas, Texas has more foster carers than children.

Australia, like many parts of the world, has the opposite problem. This weekend, we’re celebrating Stand Sunday, encouraging Christians to consider whether God is calling them to foster care. And at the moment that call may be more important than ever.

Dickins said job loss and social isolation are increasing the pressure on already struggling families. “Unfortunately, a recent report that came out in Victoria described a pandemic of children who are going to need placements in out-of-home care,” she said.

Of course wherever possible, children are kept with their biological families. But that’s usually achieved through a combination of extra supports provided in the home, which at the moment is complex or impossible. “We still need those supports, but in this interim time, where children need to be removed for safety reasons, we do need a growth in the number of people who are going to put their hands up to be foster carers, or kinship carers.”

A kinship carer is someone who is already known to a child or family, who can help out when a family is going through hardship. “It might be a relative, but it might be a teacher, or a teacher’s aide, or a youth group leader, people who are willing to say I can step in and provide safety for that child at this time.”

“And hopefully that is for a short period of time, where that family just can re-establish and find some supports, as we emerge out of Coronavirus. But for some families, it may even be a permanent and a long-term `placement in care.”

Mary is coordinator of Fostering Hope, an organisation encouraging Christian parents to consider fostering. When we respond to the call to spread the good news, we often end up on the mission field in far-flung parts of the world. “There’s actually children and families right here in our neighbourhoods in Australia that need God’s love, and need our love as well.”

“And fostering’s a perfect way to be a local missionary in your local community. It’s doing all these things that you would do if you were overseas. It’s opening your home to the people around you. It’s opening your heart. It’s being hospitable, and it’s showing God’s love and kindness in the way you live out your life.”

In their conversation, Neil Johnson and Mary Dickins discussed the opportunities fostering can offer to talk about and model our Faith, and heard stories from listeners of people whose lives had been permanently changed for the better through the system. Listen to the podcast below for all that and more.

Tune into 20Twenty and join the conversation with Neil Johnson, weekdays on Vision Christian Radio. Click here for your local times.

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