A few months ago, our family was called into ministry. This ministry, called Safe Families
, is fairly new to the Twin Cities area and is an awesome opportunity for the body of Christ to be just that. What it works to do is to first get the word out - clinics, hospitals, shelters, counseling offices, etc. - to families (usually single moms) who have no built-in support system of their own and let them know that families are available if they need help with their children for awhile.
So the "safe family" becomes that support system, being there both for the kids and for the mom or the dad or whatever the case may be, as they work to get their lives together, just have a little breather, or even if they just need to go into the hospital for a day and have no one to watch their kids. There are homeless families, addiction issues, moms trying to get out of bad relationships, parents trying to find work or housing, the issues are as diverse as the children.
Sometimes the need is immediate. Sometimes it's short-term, sometimes longer (up to a year). The two opportunities we've had have both been just extended weekends.
First we took care of Jamari and Jeremy, aged 2 and 5. They fit in well with our boys and our walls are still vibrating from all that energy!
Then last weekend, we took care of Precious, who was indeed a precious little 10-month-old girl. The boys loved her!
See her piggies? I did that! Well, yes, it took Brian holding her still and several tries on my part to get the piggies straight in her hair, but I managed it!
There are many amazing things about this ministry.
First, we are not compensated in any way to care for these children, as we would if we were foster parents. In other words, the body of Christ is just expected to step up and do their part in a very hands-on way to "care for orphans and widows". Sometimes the kids come with very little clothes and such, so there is a bit of an expense.
Second, there is absolutely no government involvement! And it's saving the states it helps many millions of dollars because many of these children would end up in the foster care system if not for this ministry.
Third, we get the opportunity to minister to the whole family. Contact with the parent is encouraged if it is welcome, and with longer visits, the safe family really has an opportunity to make a lasting connection with the parent, becoming a much-needed mentor, and often just what that parent needs to be able to start setting goals or figure out what their next step toward stability needs to be.
Fourth, we get the opportunity to minister as a whole family. This I absolutely love! The boys, who have been hearing us talk about how wherever we go, whomever we run across, we need to show the love of Jesus, get the opportunity to do it in their very own home. And as they're discovering, there are the easy cases and the harder cases. But the most rewarding and blessing-filled are usually the hard ones.
We are planning on starting a special photo album of pictures and names of our safe families kids, so that we can pray for them and their families after they leave us. We never know if we'll see them again, but we've had the amazing blessing of being able to, in a small way, touch their lives with the love of Jesus. Then we trust that He is faithful.