The Call to Foster Care

Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 in Orphan Care

Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (ESV) 

Jeremiah had an audible pronouncement of both his calling and his purpose. He was “consecrated,” or “set apart,” to be God’s prophet to the nations. But even though it couldn’t have been more clear, Jeremiah struggled with his call when he considered his youthfulness – his inexperience. He was uncertain, perhaps even afraid, because he had never done this before. It was new to him.

You might be in the same place today. You might be struggling, or uncertain, as to the call to foster and are still seeking certainty. You want what Jeremiah received, a God-sent confirmation of your call to orphan care – foster care in particular. How can you know if this is just a momentary emotion, a jump-on-the-latest-ministry bandwagon, or really what God wants you to pursue for His names sake.

There are four areas to consider in relation to your calling to foster care. Two relate to calling in general and are important in any decision concerning God’s will. The third is a bit more specific to a particular area of calling, and the last is specifically related to the call to foster care.

The first is what is referred to has the internal call. This is in reference to the work of the Spirit in calling, convicting and leading relative to the call to foster. Needless to say, if it is not of the Spirit, then go no further! If you are called to foster care, it is first and foremost a spiritual call – it is God’s call. Just like He called Jeremiah, It is not something to be pursued simply because everyone else is doing it. It is not something to engage in because your church or your pastor is pushing it (though I am thankful!). Foster care is not to be done out of guilt or manipulation. It is to pursued first because God has placed the longing, the passion, the desire in your heart for the orphaned.

But how can you know if that longing is of the Spirit or of the flesh? Your desire or His? Is your desire God’s will for you? Hence the importance of the second aspect of calling – the external call. Simply put, this is what others think about your decision to foster. Godly friends, family members, and the spiritual leadership of your church should be involved in such an important decision. [I recommend you work with a reputable agency as well] Have those you trust pray for you and with you and share how they see the Lord at work in it – or not. And understand that this aspect of calling is as important as the first. You could ask those you know would agree with you and avoid those that would disagree. That is not an honest pursuit. Again, ask those you trust will give you their thoughts – for your sake and more importantly for the sake of the children.

Then will come a third point of confirmation. You feel called of God. Others you trust have affirmed that call. Then if you are called – you will get a placement. My seminary professor put it this way – if God has called you to the ministry, and others affirm that calling, then God has a place for you to serve. Same principle – if you are called to foster care, then God has children for you. [This is where working with a reputable agency is invaluable. Check with your church or denominational office for recommendations]  Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a placement in the first weeks or even months. There are many factors to consider when making a placement. Be patient – and remember – when you receive a placement it is for the purpose of investing the gospel in the lives of children. You may be the only light of Christ they will ever see – and hopefully pass along to their family.

The fourth area is specific to foster care. It is what distinguishes foster care from all other orphan care. And it is also one that you cannot know until its over – until your placement is reunited with family – when the children leave your care. I write these words shortly after three boys we had for over a year went home. It was our second placement with them, the first being three months. When they left us the first time, it was gut-wrenching. I remember looking at my wife that first evening and saying, “If we are able to let them go, then we are probably called to foster care.” If your commitment is to see families reunited (and it is if you are called to foster) then while it will always be difficult, you will have a sense of peace and satisfaction when the children go home.

Friends, foster care is a noble calling, one not to be taken lightly. But if you are called, you will find you have to do it – and I pray you will – for the glory of Christ!

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