Nine years ago, three Kansas City area churches partnered together to make a positive difference in the community: Westside Family Church and Cedar Ridge Christian Church in Lenexa, Kansas and Heartland Community Church in Olathe, Kansas.
These churches have worked with nonprofit KVC Kansas for many years now to care for children and families involved in the child welfare system. In this article from earlier this year, we described how Westside Family Church has hosted foster/adoptive parent training classes, organized suitcase drives, donated gifts for children and youth during the holidays and even thanked our social workers for the work they do.
Their incredible commitment to caring for vulnerable families is continuing with a joint effort called “What If the Church?” The churches are asking themselves and others: what if the Church invested in, walked with and became family for children in Kansas foster care?
This past Sunday, Russel Rader of Cedar Ridge Christian Church delivered a moving message to the people of Westside Family Church. His message provided some education on the foster care system and encouraged congregants to get involved in caring for children.
Watch the full message here:
Rader highlighted the Bible verse James 1:27 which says, “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.” His sermon was organized into three ways that the Church can invest in children in the foster care system.
Understand the Plight of the “Orphan”
- Foster care is like a waiting room. During foster care, a child is cared for by temporary guardians while the biological parents boost skills or solve challenges so they can parent again. Learn more about foster care.
- There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S. There are over 6,000 Kansas children in foster care.
- The primary reasons a child enters foster care are abuse, neglect and other family challenges. Sadly though, when one child advocate surveyed 100 children asking them why they thought they were in foster care, 90% said it was because of something they did. This tendency to place blame on themselves underscores the need for caring adults to get involved.
- In the Bible, Jesus showed that children should be both seen and heard.
- While the foster care system is complex and the needs seem overwhelming, everyone can do something to help.
Take Care of the Overlooked “Widow”
- Rader shared the Biblical story of Jesus encountering a Samaritan woman at a well, showing that Jesus didn’t have a judgmental attitude toward people on the fringe of society.
- Rader also shared a personal story about his sister’s mental health challenges and her difficult decision to allow her child to be adopted.
- He concluded that it’s important to view parents involved in the child welfare system as equals, rather than looking down on them. The relationship between a foster parent and a biological parent, for example, must be a partnership between two equals rather than someone looking down on the less fortunate. (Learn more about parents involved in the child welfare system.)
Mirror the Ever-Present Father
- There is an epidemic of fatherlessness in the U.S. One out of three children (over 24 million) live without a biological father in the home.
- The average amount of time a father spends talking with his children is just 7 minutes a day.
- Children need fathers to be present with them. If there is a lack of loving parents to answer children’s questions as they grow up, they will turn to other sources.
In conclusion, Rader mentioned several ways to get involved including “What if the Church?” Serve Day on June 11. It will include a prayer breakfast, sorting donations and building a playground. He also described the CarePortal, an initiative of the Global Orphan Project, which connects the needs of vulnerable families as observed by child welfare workers with churches.
His challenge is that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Commit to doing something.
KVC Kansas would like to thank the amazing people of these three churches that have given sacrificially of their time, talents and treasures to help vulnerable children and families in our communities. Thank you for advocating for the people we serve and setting such a compelling example for others. You inspire and encourage our staff and we simply couldn’t do this work without you!
If you’d like to help children in need and would like more information, our free download “11 Incredible Stories of Real Foster Parents” gives valuable insight into what it’s like as a foster parent. Click below to get it now!