Foster care is a complex and often heartbreaking system that aims to provide temporary homes for children whose families are unable to care for them. As Christians, how should we understand and respond to issues surrounding foster care? What does the Bible say that can guide our thoughts, prayers, and actions related to this important ministry? In this post, we will explore key biblical themes and passages that pertain to caring for vulnerable children and outline practical ways believers can make a difference.
The need for foster care arises when children are abused, abandoned, or otherwise unsafe in their home environments. Parental rights may be terminated if serious neglect or harm is evident over an extended time. While family reunification is usually the goal, sometimes that is not possible due to the severity of the home situation. When this happens, children enter the foster system while permanent placement options are explored.
Foster care is intended to be temporary, but children often end up staying in the system for years due to backlogs in the courts, a lack of viable adoption candidates, and other complicating factors. During this uncertain season, they are faced with separation from family members, friends, and familiar surroundings. It is a profoundly disruptive and traumatic experience for any child.
As Christians, we are called to care for the most vulnerable among us. Throughout Scripture, God demonstrates His heart for children in need:
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:17)
“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.” (James 1:27)
God instructs His people to actively defend and provide for children without parental care. As we seek to live out our faith in a broken world, we must look out for those impacted by the foster system. We are tasked with speaking up for their needs, supporting caring solutions, and stepping in to help where we can.
In this post, let’s explore key principles found in Scripture related to foster care. We will also identify practical ways Christians can make a difference, both on a societal level and within their local communities. Read on to grow in understanding God’s perspective on this important issue.
Key Biblical Principles About Foster Care
Several themes emerge in Scripture that provide insight for how Christians can respond with wisdom and compassion when it comes to foster care. Here are some of the most relevant biblical principles to keep in mind:
1. Everyone is made in God’s image and has inherent dignity.
Every human life has value and is worthy of care because we all bear God’s image (Genesis 1:27). This applies equally to birth parents struggling with difficult circumstances and children in need of safe homes. We must avoid thinking in terms of “us versus them” and instead see everyone involved in the foster system as precious people created by God.
2. God designed the family as the primary place of nurture, protection, and identity.
Throughout Scripture, God establishes the family unit as central for raising children (Psalm 127:3-5, Ephesians 6:1-4). He offers clear instructions to parents about providing loving discipline and spiritual training. When families experience crisis, it causes deep wounds in the lives of children. Christians should promote reconciliation or reformation of families whenever possible.
3. The Church is called to care for the vulnerable.
In both Old and New Testaments, God instructs His people to defend and provide for the fatherless, the orphan, and the widow (Psalm 82:3-4, James 1:27, Isaiah 1:17). The Bible warns strongly against those who neglect or exploit children and other vulnerable people. Caring for those impacted by the foster system is a vital way the Church can live out this biblical mandate today.
4. Followers of Christ must speak and act on behalf of the vulnerable.
God calls His people to “loose the bonds of injustice” and “let the oppressed go free” (Isaiah 58:6). Christians are instructed to give voice to those who cannot speak for themselves, including children navigating the foster system (Proverbs 31:8-9). Advocating for their needs and rights aligns with God’s heart for justice.
5. Believers should play a role in the lives of fatherless children.
The Bible encourages individual Christians to be involved directly in the lives of children in need. For example, Job took in orphans and became “a father to the needy” (Job 29:12). Esther’s cousin Mordecai raised her as his own daughter after she was orphaned (Esther 2:7). James 1:27 states that pure religion includes visiting orphans in their affliction. When appropriate, Christians should explore foster care or adoption.
6. The Church is called to sacrificial love.
Jesus set the example of radical, sacrificial love by laying down His life to save humanity while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). As His followers, we are also called to love, serve, give, and sacrifice in ways that honor Him. Foster care provides opportunities for the Church to live out Christlike love in practical ways.
Now that we have explored some key biblical themes related to foster care, we will identify specific ways Christians can make a difference in this area. With compassion, wisdom, and practical help, believers can have a real impact on children, families, and systems in need of redemption.
10 Ways Christians Can Make a Difference for Foster Care
If you feel moved to respond after reading these biblical principles, here are some practical suggestions for getting involved:
1. Pray for children, biological parents, and foster families.
Bring names and situations before God’s throne of grace consistently. Pray for healing, stability, wise decisions, and the presence of Christ to be made known in tangible ways. Organize prayer groups focused specifically on foster care needs in your church or community.
2. Provide respite care.
Give foster parents a temporary break by having children come to your home for agreed upon blocks of time. Build meaningful relationships with youth in the system through this stable support.
3. Mentor foster youth.
Many teens in foster care need a consistent, caring adult in their life. Set up regular times to listen to and encourage youth, helping them build life skills and confidence.
4. Organize foster care drives.
Collect needed items like clothing, toiletries, blankets, and toys to donate to foster families or group homes. Help ease the financial burden of taking in children by providing duffle bags filled with essentials.
5. Fundraise or make financial donations.
Give toward foster care charities, group homes, foster family support services, higher education scholarships for foster youth, etc. Programs rely on donations to meet pressing needs. Finances also impact policy, so advocate for funding of solutions that align with biblical principles.
6. Volunteer with foster care organizations.
Find opportunities to support agencies and ministries serving foster families and children. Possible roles include childcare, office work, event assistance, driving kids to appointments, providing meals, helping with maintenance projects, and more.
7. Open your home as a foster or adoptive parent.
If God is calling your family to this ministry, take steps to become licensed as a foster home. Participate in training, home inspections, background checks, and meetings to be approved to take placements. Let your life speak of Christ’s redeeming love.
8. Educate your church.
Help fellow believers understand the foster care system and how they can respond. Share stories, statistics, ways to pray, and action steps. Lead by example in caring for the fatherless in practical ways.
9. Support foster or adoptive families within your church.
Come alongside fellow Christians who are fostering or adopting. Provide meals, respite care, help around the house, childcare, and emotional/spiritual encouragement. Avoid simply telling them “let me know how I can help” – instead, be proactive and specific in your offers of support. Give grace as they navigate challenging dynamics.
10. Advocate for vulnerable children.
Use your voice to promote policies and practices that align with biblical values, the best interest of the child, and family preservation/reunification efforts when possible. Write letters or call government officials to share concerns. Volunteer with organizations engaging in advocacy. Vote with foster care issues in mind.
In closing, Scripture shines light on how God wants His people to understand and engage with issues related to foster care. As Christians, we are called to walk in humility, compassion, and wisdom as we seek to care for His beloved children who find themselves in difficult circumstances. Whether through prayer, practical support, or hands-on involvement, may we rise to the task Jesus sets before us – honoring Him by serving “the least of these” with sacrificial love. This is part of what it means to live out the Gospel and the kind of “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless” (James 1:27). May we be found faithful and obedient to this calling.
- God cares deeply for children in need and calls His people to defend and provide for the vulnerable.
- Christians must avoid “us vs them” mentalities and see all people as made in God’s image with inherent worth.
- When possible, strengthening and preserving families aligns with Scripture’s redemptive themes.
- There are many practical ways believers can support kids, families, and systems impacted by foster care.
- The Church is called to rise up and care for orphaned and fatherless children. This honors God.