It was Labor Day weekend 2009. My wife and I had gone to The Church at Brook Hills to attend with our oldest two sons. David Platt preached that evening from James 1 about the responsibility of the Church to care for orphans.
We ended up at an information meeting attended by hundreds of people about how to become a foster parent. Early the next year, we attended the 10-week GPS Foster Parent Training Classes taught by Traci Newell, a social worker from Lifeline Children’s Services.
Throughout the sessions, my wife and I had doubts about why we were there. We knew that the training we were receiving was important, but weren't quite sure God wanted us to be foster parents. It wasn't until the social worker visited our home that it became clearer to me. As the social worker was telling us our home was not currently suited to care for foster kids, the Lord spoke to me about His desire to see more churches involved in caring for children in crisis through the foster system.
A phone call to Herbie Newell, Executive Director of Lifeline Children’s Services, led to a meeting with Pastor Platt. During the meeting we sensed God’s direction to invite other pastors into the vision of caring for children in crisis in the foster care system.
In December 2010, the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes hosted a meeting that was attended by several key pastors and the leadership of Lifeline and ABCH. A vision emerged to create a unified, Christ-centered initiative to care for children in crisis in the foster system throughout the entire state of Alabama.
A strategy team was formed to bring specific information about the scope and resources needed for an initiative of this magnitude. I was privileged to lead that strategic planning team. We met several times in early 2011 until the April 27 tornadoes diverted our attention to their more pressing needs.
Another larger gathering of pastors was convened in December 2011 where the findings of the initial strategy team were presented and a renewed mandate to move forward was given. The strategy team was recommissioned and the name "Alabama Churches Together for Foster Care" was created to describe the vision.
Several months later, a website (www.ACTforFosterCare.com) has been created to give vital information for joining in on the Biblical mandate for caring for "orphans" in our community. The process of involving Christians in foster care throughout our community is continuing.
I am grateful the Church in our city is uniting around the things that are on God’s heart. I am also grateful Mission Birmingham is right in the middle of seeing God work in powerful ways in our community!