I watched & read the stories of India of the Compassion Bloggers my heart broke over stories of babies left alone, children begging on the streets, and young girls selling their bodies. My broken heart soared when I saw the beaming faces of the compassion children. I jumped over the Compassion and sponsored two children — little girls. But I wanted to do more, so much more. I wanted ….. I didn't know what I want to do, I just know I want to do something.
I asked God for direction and how to focus this desire. I want to head off on the next Compassion trip. I want to go on the next blogger trip. But I wanted to do more. I asked God to give me direction. He reminded me of a blog post I wrote almost a year ago. It's about the children of America, but children across this world need us. And for a mere $32 a month Compassion is reaching these children .
But what about the children here in America? And that's this post is about. The 500,000 children in foster care. And the numbers are increasing. This week, alone, over 4,000 children will enter the foster care system. Mind boggling, isn't it? Heartbreaking? It should be. Life changing? It is for this child.
For months there’s been a question swirling around in my brain — Where's the Church?
I’m not talking about location, I’m talking about people – and I’m talking about me. I’m so blessed to live a double life – before you start thinking anything odd, let me explain my double life. By God’s grace I sold a book about Christian friendships to Thomas Nelson, but since I used every dime of the advance to pay for our daughter’s wedding (well, I did get a cute outfit) I have to keep my day job – director of the CASA program, where we work with abused and neglected children. So, that’s the double life – writer of fun Christian book and director of a program that works with some horrific cases of child abuse. It’s two very opposite ends of life – one happy and fun and the other filled with sorrow, sadness, and horror.
This double life has led me to ask this question – where’s the church? Over 500,000 children are in foster care — where's the church? Over 3000 children died in the United States last year at the hands of the people who are supposed to love and protect them – where’s the church? Over 1 million children in America are homeless — where's the church?
Every year 25,000 to 30,000 children get too old for foster care and they are turned out on their own. These are the children who grew up in the system. These are the young people whose parents never could get it together enough to get them back home. These are the children who weren’t adopted. Once out and living on their own, over half of these children will end up homeless. Many will end up in jail, become unwed mothers, go on welfare, become addicts, or abuse their own children and again I ask the same question —
Where's the church?
These children have no family and where's their church family? Who helps them get a job, an education, a place to live? Sure, they have social workers to help them transition, but don’t these kids deserve something more? Who hugs them when things go bad? Who talks with them about the little things in life – and the big things? Who prays for them?
I’m Southern Baptist and we have more than 16 million members in over 42,000 churches across the country. The Southern Baptist Convention sponsors about 5000 missionaries serving in the United States and another 5000 missionaries who serve in foreign countries. And that’s just the Southern Baptist.
The Church consists of much more than just Southern Baptist. There’s Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, Assemblies of God, and so many, many more. If each Southern Baptist Church would adopt just one of these grown up foster children – just one – that child would have a chance.
If each church would just say – “let’s reach outside these walls and love a child who has no one.” If the each church would commit to sponsor just one former foster child. Just think about that impact. If every church would support just a handful of foster children — think of the impact.
In this nation of great riches and wealth, we find so much sadness. We are the wealthiest nation, yet so many of our children are at risk of abuse and neglect. We are the wealthiest nation, yet over one million of our children are homeless and many more are living in poverty. Where’s the church? We have more “stuff” then any other people in the world and still children grow up in foster care. Where’s the church?
When I think of this I think about the song by Audio Adrenaline — I want to be your hands, I want to be your feet, I'll go where you send me, go where you send me and I try to touch the world like you touched my life.
I know it took God placing me in a job that worked with the abused and neglected to realize what is happening to our children — and it's happening right in your neighborhood, just like it happens in my quiet, rural Southern county. I know child abuse isn't something we like to think about, talk about, or hear about (and it's not something we want to hear preached about), but it's real and it's happening to our children.
Why should even one child go hungry, homeless or hurting when we, the church, are here? Or are we?
Just happened onto your blog from Anne Jackson’s. Wonderful question. I don’t have the general answer, but I can give you a small one.
Our church in Townsend, Church of the Cove, sent seven guys to Haiti early this year because we felt that God was leading us into a work there. My husband was one of those seven.
What they found was an old disco “building” — actually an open-sided metal-roofed building with no heat, no air-conditioning, no running water and putrid outhouses. Oh, did I mention this was home to about 25 orphans, aged 3 months to 16 or 17 years?
Our men wept to see children dividing a raisin – ONE – between six of them so everyone would get some. These children were eating a meal about 25 out of 30 days each month. Now, because of our folks and a local gentleman, the children are eating every single day. Our folks keep their change at the end of the day, putting it into a jar or bag and on the last Sunday of the month, we collect it to send it to Haiti.
I tell you this not to brag on COTC, though I’m excited about all God is doing here. I tell you so that you can get a glimpse that the church is out there. My husband and I have considered sponsoring a Compassion child — and we may yet. For now, our hearts are in Haiti with some kids that clung to him. (Pictures here: http://www.fayebryant.com/photos/haiti/index.html) (Story here: http://www.fayebryant.com/living_real/2009/03/a-new-husband.html)
I love hearing your story! We all need to be the hands & feet of Jesus. And your church is doing just that! \
What a beautiful picture of how we can all make a difference!
Off to read your story and look at your pictures!