Foster care can be a scary idea for people and families who are considering becoming foster parents. But it’s even scarier for the kids who make up the foster care system. 450,000+ kids (Over 4200 in South Carolina) that have been abused, neglected, experienced the death of a parent, or something equally horrible. Kids in foster care live every day with uncertainty and fear about their future. They struggle with daily disappointments, like parents not showing up for a visit or being away from their family for a holiday. They are often distrustful and angry at the system that is supposed to be helping them.
So, what can foster parents do? The answer is equally simple and challenging: Love others like Jesus loves them. 1 John 4 is my favorite passage on love. Verse 11 says Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. Verse 18 says There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Kids often live in fear prior to entering foster care. Being taken from their families is a terrifying experience. They’re scared of the uncertainty of where they’re going to live or if they will ever see their families again. Every step of the foster care journey is frightening. They need to be loved like Jesus loves them. Kids in foster care are fearful. We need to respond with love. We know that perfect love drives out fear.
1 Corinthians 13 says If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. (v 1-3, NLT)
I don’t know how to prevent fear in people, but I know how to love people. I know how to be patient and kind. I try not to envy or boast. I don’t think I’m self-seeking. I try (unsuccessfully at times) to not be easily angered. I (usually) don’t keep a record of wrongs. I don’t delight in evil but I do delight in truth. I do my best to always protect, trust, hope, and persevere. Just because I know all of this doesn’t mean I do all of these all the time. I’m pretty far from perfect, but I know that love never fails. Love wins.
If you’re anything like me, imperfect but trying their best to love, you should consider foster care. Check out Thornwell’s website or Facebook page for more information, or you can email me directly at Jonathon.Sampson@thornwell.org.