foster care, orphancare, Orphanprevention, Respite care

Safe Haven

“It is important to realize that we care for orphans NOT because we are rescuers but because we are the rescued.” -David Platt

There is nothing within our sinfully depraved, selfish hearts that would cause us to care for others (especially others who have suffered traumatic loss through very unique and challenging circumstances.) All is grace. Grace to love and grace to sacrifice. Without the grace of God in our hearts we would not be doing what we are doing today.

I pray that knowing this truth is comforting and encouraging to you! We are not special. We are not more qualified. We are not more spiritual. We are just like you. We work jobs, we love serving our church, we love traveling, and we love spending quality time with our friends and family. I pray if God is prompting your heart to pursue orphan prevention through foster care that you would have the grace and confidence to step out in faith knowing that your Father will be with you every step of the way.

I understand that everyone’s calling to orphan care will look very differently. That is the beauty of the Gospel. We are all unified by our love for Christ and his creation; yet, our obedience to this love has many diverse avenues within the Church. Encouraging, advocating, and providing meals and resources for adoptive/fostering families are all beautiful avenues of this ministry. Just last night, I needed two pencils so that our current foster children could finish their homework. My next door neighbor not only provided the two pencils but also brought over homemade chocolate chip cookies. However insignificant this may seem, it was huge act of love for the two young girls who were removed from their home earlier that day.

In this blog, I do want to highlight one specific avenue of orphan care/prevention: respite care.
We have been able to host two respite care placements in the past two months. Both of our experiences have been wonderful!! In respite care, the certified parents are called and asked (you do have the ability to decline if the requested placement does not fit with your current schedule) if they would be willing and able to receive a placement for a night or a couple of nights until a more permanent placement can be made. To my knowledge, many calls are made in urgency of needing to remove the children as quickly as possible for their safety. If the parents choose to accept this short-term placement, the social worker explains the details and coordinates their arrival later that day. The duration of the stay is very brief, but we have learned that it can be the most wonderful time to intentionally love these children.

Last night we received two of the sweetest girls (7 years old and 9 years old). I have to be honest, I have been amazed with all our foster children’s politeness and genuinely kind attitudes. (I know that this is not always the case and that is okay too). But, I want to debunk the myth that all foster care children are emotionally unstable and have pretentious behaviors. I love doing respite care. Because the time of their stay is so brief, it causes us to be very intentional with our attention and affection towards the children. We enjoy the opportunity of providing a safe haven, a warm meal, a clean bed, and childhood fun (movies, wii, reading books, etc.) to children who have recently suffered traumatic loss that is in no way a result of their own fault.

Just like any other calling in our lives, respite care does not require perfection or a completely clean house. Respite care just requires a willingness to care. If only you knew how often I would say “Hospitality just isn’t my gift. I can’t cook. I hate cleaning. Our house is our haven from work and ministry. I just don’t think I could ever let someone come live with us.” Yep, 100% verbatim what I have said in the past. Like I stated earlier, “all is grace”. God’s grace in my heart allowed me to see past my “self” and learn how to host little children in my “haven” despite my imperfections. I pray that God continues to allow us to offer our “haven” as a safe haven for children in need.

If you ever have any questions about any of the ministry opportunities concerning mentoring, respite care, foster care, adoption, etc., please contact me via email calliegbailie@gmail.com. I may not know that answer, but I would love to learn with you! We want to be available as a resource for all families.

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foster care, Orphanprevention, parenting resources

Bittersweet Goodbyes

“Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

Foster care, adoption, biological parenting are very different, yet very much the same. Any and every form of parenting is hard work. Parenting is sacrificial. Parenting is temporary. Period.

I have previously mentioned the “shock” of parenthood we felt the first couple of days with our foster children. I have many friends with new born babies and teenagers who experience the very same “shock” in almost every new season of life. Every season of life has difficulties and joys whether it is a season of childhood, singleness, career, marriage, parenthood, etc.

In the blink of an eye, seasons come and seasons go [time tends to speed up the older you become, or so it seems]. Some seasons of life appear all too short, while other seasons feel as though to last f-o-r-e-v-e-r. In reality, regardless of the number of days allotted to a specific season of life, all seasons are just that: seasons. Every season has a beginning and an ending accompanied by a beautiful and/or challenging in between period. In light of our unfathomable eternity, seasons come and go before we even understand all that was lost or gained in that given time.

The beautiful bitter sweetness of seasons is that these periods of time are ever-changing. Understanding this truth makes living in the current season that much sweeter, as well as, making the exiting of the season sometimes quite painful. As we grow and change in this brief lifetime, seasons will come and go along with the people and experiences of each moment. Although a season will not last forever, the experiences and transformations to which a season impacted our lives will resonant throughout eternity.

Foster care is a more “evident” temporary lifestyle, because the goal of foster care is the reunification of the family unit. Restoration is truly our hearts’ desire. This does not mean that the ending of a season with our foster children is painless. There is grief that comes when parting with a child you have grown to love and cherish as your own. I do not want to belittle this “bittersweet pain” in any way. Jesus is with us at this very moment. We choose joy because we are not “losing” these children. We choose to view reunification as a means of celebration. God is in the business of restoration and we want to help others pursue this in any way possible. Not every situation will be joyful. There are definitely situations of reunification that foster parents must cling to the power of God’s sovereign goodness even in the bleakest of situations. Every reunification situation will be unique.

In our current situation, our foster children are being reunited with wonderful family members who we pray will continue to care and love them as we have. We are celebrating that the Lord has allowed us the opportunity to “stand in the gap” for these precious children. We are celebrating all that He has accomplished in our hearts during our time together as a family. We are celebrating that although we may no longer hold these sweet kids in our care, we now have the ability to become nurturing influencers in another child’s life. We are celebrating that our current foster children have gained a safe environment with loving family members. As we process this change in season, we are reminded of the reality that there are so many children in need of Gospel-love. We want to open our arms even wider to receive whomever the Lord intends to give us on this journey.

However, I do want to say to our friends and family please understand that comments such as “well, this is good practice for your own kids one day,” or “I could never do that because I would be too attached to the children,” do not ease our pain in any way. Firstly, these were our children. We are real parents, just like you! We feel all of the same joys and struggles that you feel as a parent. This is not a trial run. This is the real deal just in a very brief season of life. Secondly, I want to encourage you to never limit God’s plans for your life with walls of fear, safety, and comfort. We are attached. Yes, it’s very painful to part with these children we love dearly. I understand that not everyone is called to become foster parents, but to our friends and family, I can testify to you that there is nothing special about us that makes us able to handle this pain more easily than anyone else. God’s grace is sufficient for all. In every circumstance, we can trust that He will provide the grace needed to endure and even embrace His will for our lives.

In this moment of pain and joy, I am clinging to the verse, “Jesus came not to be served but to serve.” We want to exhibit this characteristic of Jesus’s humility as much as possible in this circumstance. Like all parents, we were given an opportunity to selflessly love and nurture two sweet little babies in a traumatic time of need. Just like all parents, we were not guaranteed a certain number of days with our children. The Lord gave us time as a gift to steward with the help of His Spirit in our lives. Just like all parents, we loved sacrificially with little to no thankful understanding from our children. Just like all parents, there were challenges and joys. Just like all parents, our time of parenting was temporary.

With the reality of this truth, I ask myself and I would ask you the same questions, “How are we investing the time we have been given with our children (spouse, co-workers, friends, and neighbors)?” “If we made a pie chart of our time, what would fill up the most space? Business and activities, social media and ESPN, or family devotionals?” “How much of our time is spent for the Gospel pointing others to Jesus and making disciples?” Through our experience with this sudden change in season, I want to gently but boldly encourage you to invest your time wisely.

“Time is precious. We are fragile. Life is short. Eternity is long. Every minute counts. Oh, to be a faithful steward of the breath God has given me.” – John Piper, Life as a Vapor

“Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreath; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Everyone is but a breath even those who seem secure.” Psalm 39:4-5

“What is your life? You are a midst that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesian 5:15

“Conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; knowing that you were not redeemed [or ransomed] with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood, as a Lamb
unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:17-19

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One Night of Childhood

She will always have a special place in our hearts. “B” (11 year old girl) was our very first foster care placement. We had received a call around 3:00pm about a child who needed a temporary home to care for her until her more permanent home was ready to receive her. This type of foster care placement is called respite care. Respite care is a very temporary stay (just a few of days). This a great way to care for children in need of a home if a longer “commitment” of time is a hindrance to you. IMPACT training classes are required to be certified for respite care, but it is totally worth the effort!

We were told she had been in and out of the foster care system at least 3 times. Because of this constant transition, she had previously exhibited behaviors that were challenging. Empathy is the key here. To be taken from your mother who is loved dearly three different times and placed in three different homes each time is not a normal childhood by any means. I cannot imagine the pain of loss this child has experienced in such a short amount of time.

As the car pulled into the driveway, Gabe and I said a prayer together blessing our home and our time with her. We opened the door to see a young girl carrying one bag of clothes and a bookbag. We awkwardly hugged and introduced ourselves. As we went inside, she immediately picked out “her” room. She then commented on our Christmas tree saying, “I love Christmas. I like this tree. My mother could not afford a tree this year.” We sat down on the couch with caseworker as she explained B’s story a little more. We talked about medicine, school routines, and food allergies. I will admit it was a lot to take in and I was getting overwhelmed thinking about the responsibility of caring for this child. Just as my eyes began to glaze over and I was beginning to become flustered, the verse “My grace is sufficient for you” washed over my mind. Praise God that my capability comes from the promise of His grace in my life.

Once the social worker left, B opened up and began chatting with us about everything under the sun. She was not shy and we were slightly surprised to see how well-behaved and polite she was acting. We went out to eat pizza, watched “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs II,” and drank hot chocolate. It was such a fun night together!

We were under the impression that she would be with us for at least a week. However, late that night we received a call that she would be leaving at 7:00am the very next morning for her new permanent home. We chose not to tell her until we woke her up the next morning. We wanted the one night we had with her to be very special for her. We wanted to pour our love out for her and give her a night of normal childhood!

This may seem romanticized; it truly was a great night. Having the opportunity to give a child something every child deserves: love is very fulfilling. But, I must be honest about something that is not a romantically portrayed image of foster care. The sinful nature, that is, my pride. As we were eating dinner I realized an emotion in my heart that I am ashamed to admit. I felt a certain insecurity; I felt pride. As we sat with a child who was obviously much older than our marriage I thought to myself, “What are people thinking about us right now? Are they judging this situation? Do they think that because of her appearance and behaviors that we have failed to care for this child?” This placement was not the cookie cutter family portrait. This was not a cute little baby. B was a young girl with poor hygiene and special needs who was in desperate need of love and care. These terribly honest thoughts were a revelation of sin in my heart that the Lord needed to chip away and He did later that night.

As we were driving home from eating pizza, B began to make up a song and sing it quietly in the back seat. These were the exact words that she sang to herself just loud enough for us to hear, “Jesus loves all of the children. Jesus loves every boy and girl. He cares about every child. Jesus loves me. He died on the cross for my sins. We believe in Him. We are His princesses and His princes. Jesus loves every child.” Tears streaming down my face, I humbly thanked the Lord for this beautiful reminder given through this beautiful soul. We rejoiced when hearing of B’s childlike faith.

I share this with you because I think there is a tendency to think that we are “saviors” because we have chosen to care for orphaned children and children in need of a temporary home. This could not be further from the truth; we are frail, imperfect human beings who are striving to serve the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. Without the grace and mercy of God, we would not choose to love selflessly. By nature, we are all self-centered, egocentric humans who love ourselves more than anyone else. The beauty of the Gospel is that because God chose to love us in our self-centered depravity, we can now choose to love others with a selfless love. In a moment of ugly weakness, Jesus shattered my pride into a million pieces. Through the sweet, sincere song of a child He brought those pieces back together to form in my heart a compassion that only He could create.

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Battlefield

Marriage & Parenting

I have said it before and I will say it again; marriage is sanctifying, as is parenthood. Now combine marriage and parenthood, which makes for an extremely poignant tool of sanctification. Gabe and I have been married since July 2010. We have walked through many seasons of life together and Lord willingly we will journey through many more. Marriage in ministry could be a blog post in and of itself. But, for now I want to speak specifically about marriage and parenting.

I know that many of you could express the pains and joys of marriage and parenting more eloquently than myself. After all, even though we are no longer considered “newlyweds,” I think it’s safe to label ourselves as “parental newbies.” I am speaking from spending about three weeks on the battlefield; so, please forgive me if my perspective is not yet complete. Despite the freshness of our parenting roles, we have both learned so much about the way we interact simultaneously as spouses and parents.

The biggest lesson we have learned is that we must be on the same team. As parents, we all know how selfless and sacrificially we love our kids (often without even a nod of acknowledgement.) I believe with all the demands of parenting there are two perspectives we can choose to view our responsibility: a blessing or oppression. Of course, the former is the design that the Lord intended. In marriage, there is so much give and take. Parenting amplifies this “neediness” ten fold. If we are not on the same team, then who will be? If I am not actively encouraging my husband and affirming his gifts as a parent/spouse, then who else will do this? I learned very quickly that we must be 100% for and not against each other, because sometimes, due to adolescent ignorance, our children will not be for us (especially when we deny their earnest, heartfelt plea to watch “Frozen” for the fourteenth night in a row- true story).

It has also become apparent to me how much the comparison game can destroy a team. There is a temptation to compare my percentage of effort with his and vice versa. Arguments can begin to center around whose turn it is to change the dirty diaper or who gets to rock the crying baby at 3:30am based on who did more or less that day. I must admit that the Lord has blessed me enormously with a husband who possesses such a servant’s heart. If you know Gabe, then you know how much he pours himself into ministry, marriage, and parenting. I cannot praise him enough for striving to give 100% effort towards caring for us as a family. But, we are far from perfect. There are times when we allow our selfishness to win out. I am learning that if we both settle by giving only 50% and seek to hold a measuring stick to our spouse’s efforts frustrations will occur. We are most effective and joyful when we are both fully devoted to our calling as parents. When we invest 100% of our spiritual gifts into our family, our day flows much more smoothly. It requires much patience, trial and error, and devotion but I would not want to be on anyone else’s team. Encouragement and affirmation immensely impact our ability to work together as a unified force for the Gospel.

Parenting is a battle for the soul of your child. We pray we will steward well this beautiful blessing God has given us. If we are constantly fighting each other, we will lose influence in our children’s’ hearts. What better way to overcome marital arguments than by fighting for and with our spouse? Unified we embrace the battlefield each day, arm in arm, side by side, focused on the same mission and purpose: making much of Jesus in our lives. Jesus becomes our measuring stick and together we become a team that He will use to our fullest potential. Yes, marriage and parenting are sanctifying, but if the battle scars make us look more like our cross-scarred Savior, together we will boldly embrace the fight.

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Small Victories

If I could describe this week in one word it would be: small victories. Okay, that’s actually two words. Thursday was officially one week since the day we took two little ones into our care. Because of confidentiality, I will call our kids K (3 year old girl) and B (11 month old boy). K and B were brought into our home by the DEFACS social worker. In the foster care process, most of the time you receive a call about a situation, agree or decline to care for the children, and the child(ren) are brought to your home that day. Yes, that day!! Two hours after we received the call to be exact. We were nervous, excited, and overwhelmed by the thought of entering parenthood. I will never forget the memory of throwing baby items into our buggy one hour prior to their arrival without any clue of how our world would be rocked.

Gabe is a natural dad (I can’t brag on this man enough!!)  B immediately reached for Gabe at our first meeting. K was much more hesitant, which is understandable considering she is older and more aware of what was happening. We listened to their story, showed them to “their” rooms, and played with the one toy we had managed to purchase at the store. K warmed up within about 30 minutes. The first night was one of exhaustion (for all of us). Actually, let me rephrase this; the first week was one of exhaustion. We kept asking each other, “Will we ever sleep again?” (Of course the answer is yes, but this was a serious question at the time.)

One night, I remember leaving K’s room as Gabe was leaving B’s room. Somehow, by God’s grace, we had managed to put them both to sleep at the same time. As we walked out into the hallway, we did a little victory dance. That is the moment the words “small victories” popped into my mind. “Can we do this?” “Will this ever be normal?” “Are we capable of being loving and equipped parents to these sweet little strangers?” Honestly, there were moments I would have answered no. Now, I can confidently answer yes; but, I realize we will not become equipped and acquainted all in one night. It will not even seem manageable and normal to us within one week. It will be a process of becoming a family. It will be one small victory after another.

As I write this blog a week later, I can tell you that by God’s grace and the unbelievable blessings of our family and friends, we are in a much better condition than the “shock” we experienced the first couple of days. So, today we celebrate! We celebrate the opportunity we have been given to minister to these sweet children and their family. We also celebrate the Gospel and how darkness will be restored to light. We choose to celebrate the moments of pain, exhaustion, and insecurity, because we know that as we lay those moments of weakness before the Lord, He will be faithful. He will be our strength. He will be our wisdom. As we take one step of obedience at a time, He provides the grace we need for that moment alone. We continue step after step. Then one day, we look back at the road we have traveled and see the journey was one of pain and beauty. Through the moments of weakness, we are molded and shaped into the image of His perfect Son, Jesus. The fight is hard, but as we endure, small victories become our song of celebration.


Here are a few of the small victories we are celebrating today. (Please mentally picture Gabe and I doing the most silly, awkward celebration dance. It will make for a better read!)

-I was called Effie, Jessie, Chelsea, and Calvin; now, I am referred to as “Mrs. Callie.”

–The 11:00p.m. bedtime has now become 8:30p.m.

— K went from sleeping with all the lights on to now using only a night-light.

— B has shown much more personality and vocalizations.

— We went from a 45 minute “getting dressed” frenzy down to 20 minutes (still a frenzy).

— K and B are developing a taste for fruits and veggies.

— I can now change a diaper in 2 minutes instead of 8 minutes.

— K went from pull-ups to potty training.

— K and B enjoy daycare/nursery with minimal tears.

— Our house is now baby proofed with plenty of toys.

–Tantrums have decreased drastically as laughs have filled our home.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s their story?

Unfortunately, we are not allowed to say what happened in their past that resulted in them being brought into our care. We can tell you that whenever a child is brought into the foster care system their situation has become a very tough and unhealthy circumstance. Their background information is confidential, as well as, their names and faces on media outlets. If you take a picture with any of our children or know their names, we ask that you please do not post it to social media. This is ultimately for their safety.

Are you adopting?

The answer to this question is unknown. Every placement is different. Depending on the court’s order, in some circumstances the birth parent(s) are allowed visitation rights. These rights are set by the judge (1x a week, phone call, mail, or no rights). If a situation arises when the birth parents rights are “terminated” the child(ren) will be up for adoption. The court system will do everything possible to keep the children with their birth parents or family members. Birth parents are required to complete certain “steps” (classes, screenings, etc.) to be able to receive custody again. We are truly content with whatever the Lord has planned. We know adoption is something we want to pursue, but right now we feel that we have been called to “stand in the gap” through the temporariness of foster care.

Are you going to be brokenhearted if/when they leave?

It will be bittersweet I’m sure. The love that we have for these children is a sacrificial love that is only found in Jesus. I will be honest, the first couple of days were tough because we were all strangers. The more we get acquainted with each other the more our love grows. We are constantly reminded that our role is most likely a temporary one; there is still a part of our hearts that we are guarding. What has surprised me the most about the reality of parting with the children one day is that the temporariness actually fuels me. It is not very different than caring for a biological child. Life is short and its timeframe is unknown for all of us. The “temporary mindset” helps me stay focused and intentional with pouring my love into their lives. Every day could be our last. With this mindset, when times are super challenging, I cling to the reality that this is only a season. In this season, I want to invest everything I have. Ultimately, the pain that we may endure from parting with the children in the future will not be comparable to the pain of their current situation: being torn from everything they love – everything they are accustomed to and being left alone to fend for themselves. When I start to worry about my future pain, I think of their current pain and the healing that Jesus can bring to the children through my willingness to suffer in the future.

Was foster care Plan-B?

We want to make it clear that we have chosen foster care because we felt called by the Lord to pursue it. This was not a secondary option to pregnancy. We believed that whatever the Lord wanted to take place (pregnancy, adoption, foster care) would be in His perfect timing. I feel as though foster care can sometimes have a negative connotation in today’s culture. It is not everyone’s calling, but for those who God is preparing for foster care or adoption, please know that it is truly a beautiful portrait of God’s love for His children. We want to encourage families of all colors, sizes, and backgrounds to display the Gospel own your unique way!

How’s parenthood?

SACRIFICAL. Wow, I have a new appreciation for my mom and dad! Most of you know the feeling of pain-staking love… death to self. I thought marriage was sanctifying, but parenthood reveals my selfishness in a whole new light. The biggest shock of the first couple of days as new parents (of two children!!) was the exhaustion. At the end of the day, as I laid in bed I thought, “I am just too tired to think about myself right now.” It was a tough start! However, I already see the endless joys that result from loving your children sacrificially even if they do not understand it now.

How can we help?

We are overwhelmed with gratitude by all of the love, encouragement, and support that we have received over the past few days. I don’t know how we could have made it without everyone surrounding us. We understand that while everyone is not called foster children in their home, as believers, we are all called to orphancare. Your participation in this journey, whether through a hug, a meal, or a bag of clothes/toys, has been an answer to this calling. We are so thankful for friends and family who care about the broken families in this world and fight with us to restore hope.

One of the biggest ways that you can minister to families of adoptive/foster parents is through encouraging messages of understanding concerning the difficulty of this adjustment. Also, the meal train has been a huge blessing, as we have been very focused on getting adjusted to a totally new nightly routine and learning how to expand our meal plans. Gift cards are a great way to provide a variety of resources for foster families. Offering to become a “certified” babysitter is a helpful ministry to the foster parents. All couples love a date night every now and then!  Showers are fun to host for adoptive/foster mothers! However, if the placement has already been made, the children can sometimes be overwhelmed and even scared of people constantly entering the house (never knowing if he/she will be taken away again). One of my sweet friends offered to throw me a “mail-in” shower. This was such a thoughtful and wonderful idea! Since this has been such a busy time for everyone, we have been receiving shower gifts in the mail. I could not have asked for a more warm welcome into parenthood than we have received by our family, friends, and neighbors!! Our lives have been deeply impacted by your generosity.

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foster care

WHY Foster Care?

I am writing the answer to this question to share our hearts with you, but more importantly to serve as a reminder to myself on days that seem very bleak and challenging. So here it goes:

1. The GOSPEL of Jesus Christ.
You and I were orphaned. We were lost. We were separated from our loving Father.
We were without hope. BUT GOD, being rich in mercy, sent His Son Jesus Christ to take our place in death – defeating death for us.
(Romans 5:8,Eph. 1:4-14,Gal. 4:6-7)

NOW, we are His chosen, precious, and holy children. Set apart for His work.
The theology of our adoption into the family of God overwhelms us AND compels us to action.

2. The restoration of HOPE.
One of the biggest motives behind foster care, specifically, is to see the love and grace of Jesus restore not only hopeless children, but an entire family unit. We have been asked many times, “Will you adopt?” Our heart is truly content with whatever the Lord allows to happen. We would love to adopt but in foster care our primary goal is to see an entire family unit restored to the design that God intended when He created us. We look forward to ministering to the children in addition to being a model and resource for the birth parent(s). We believe no matter how dark the circumstance may seem, Jesus is the light of HOPE.

3. The benefit of our COMMUNITY.
There is a “national foster care crisis.” There are many statistics that show that
>40-50% of children in foster care will never complete high school
>66% of them will be homeless, go to jail, or die within one year of leaving the system
>80% of the prison population once was in foster care
>girls in foster care are 600% more likely to become pregnant before the age of 21

Who better to change these statistics than the ones who are empowered with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?! Jesus is the change. Through His church, the future of our community can look much different than the dismal predictions of these statistics. “It is about creating an entire culture within the local church, a culture that sees adoption and foster care as part of the Great Commission mandate.” This is our desire. We want to be willing and obedient vessels for God to do immeasurably more than we could ask or think. He sees. He knows. He cares. We want to follow His lead.

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