I’d like to take the opportunity to shine the spotlight on that type of orphan here: older kids in foster care.

In my previous two posts (part 1,part 2) on this topic we looked at the power of God’s adoption of us and the call to be lovers of the poor and needy. We have a God who set aside the glory of heaven to come down to earth, walk among us, and sacrifice his life for us so that we might be reunited with Him. This kind of love propels us into the lives of others and draws us into other people’s mess when it could just as easily be avoided.

This series is meant to get all of us thinking in preparation for Cornerstone’s Orphan Care Conference on Saturday, October 14th. At that conference we will have the opportunity to expand our understanding of the call to enter into the lives of the fatherless and motherless, and what it means to manifest Christ in our broken world. We will talk about a number of different ways that each of us can be involved through adoption, fostering, mentorship, or support of foster and adopting families.

But, as I mentioned in my last post, there is one type of orphan that we’re only going to touch on in a small way. I’d like to take the opportunity to shine the spotlight on that type of orphan here: older kids in foster care.

It’s been a number of years now that I’ve been thinking about the reality of older foster kids in our city. Of the 20,000 kids in foster care in LA County, 65% of them are older than six and 25% of them are older than sixteen. That is thousands and thousands of kids. My heart breaks for the pain they have experienced as well as the scars (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) they have as a result. A story in the LA Times last February brought this to a head for me. The author described a night in the life of a social worker tasked with staffing a “last stop” for foster kids (read the story here). It’s an intense and radical story. It doesn’t only demonstrate the difficulty of dealing with certain kids in certain situations, but also shows the end game for kids who never have someone step in when they’re younger.

The parable of the good Samaritan is famous enough that even those outside the church know the story. But we often forget that this well-known parable was delivered not as an example of the perfect Christian lifestyle but simply in answer to the question “who is my neighbor?” Here’s the lead-in to the parable:

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-29)

If we all know that God’s call on our life can be boiled down to 1: loving God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind and 2: loving your neighbor as yourself, then we are then left with the incredibly important question: “who is my neighbor?” Through the parable, Jesus essentially answers this question by saying: “your neighbor is the person in need who you come across and have the power to help.” There are, of course, countless applications of this point, but I simply want to draw our attention to one today.

I want to invite you to consider older foster kids. I’m not asking you to do anything specific, but I’d like you simply to begin by considering them. As I mentioned there are thousands of kids in our city in this situation. Hundreds of them (at the very least) awaiting adoption. They are complicated kids, many of who have been hurt in ways I, honestly, don’t want to think about. Engagement with them is stepping into an already overflowing can of worms. But this is the reality in our city.

So, I’d like you to consider them. Think about them. Pray for them. And pray about the possibility that God might (in some way) use you similarly to the way he used the good Samaritan. For, after all, these are our neighbors.

Register for this Saturday's Orphan Care Conference

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Mentorship opportunities continually exist through organizations like:
Imagine LA
Royal Family Kids

You can get questions about adoption answered through organizations like:
Koinonia Family Services
Child Share

Scott Mehl

Scott serves the church by overseeing leadership, development, global ministries, and counseling/discipleship.

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