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BLOG: A Letter to Christians in My Community

I've talked before about the great need for foster families, and tried to be polite. But I just can’t take it anymore. And that is why I have written this letter.

I’m mad. I’ve been stewing over something for the past week and I just have to say something about it. I suspect my comments will not be well received by many of you. I’m sorry about that, but this is something about which I can no longer stay silent.

I have written previously about the significant need for foster families. I have done it as delicately as possible. I haven’t tried to ruffle any feathers, but just wanted to state a need.

But I just can’t take it anymore. And that is why I have written this letter to my fellow Christians.

We have been welcoming displaced kids into our home for a little over four years. Whenever someone finds out we are foster parents, we typically hear the following responses: “You’re a better person than me.” “I could never do that.” “Wow. You’re amazing!” “The world needs more people like you.”

Let me address each of those in brutal honesty.

“You’re a better person than me.” We are not superheros. We are just as messed up as the next family. We make mistakes all the time. We say things we shouldn’t. We do things we wish we hadn’t. It doesn’t take superheros to care for other peoples’ kids. It just takes someone to say yes.

“I could never do that.” Yes, you could. You’re choosing not to, but you could if you wanted to. So let’s be truthful about what this statement really means: “I don’t want to do that. It makes me uncomfortable.” OK… but there’s very little about being a Christian that makes us comfortable, at least not on this earth. We are not called to live in comfortable houses with comfortable jobs and comfortable schedules. We’re called to love our neighbors and our community and especially the orphans around us. Loving someone typically isn’t super comfortable all of the time. In fact, it can get downright messy a lot of the time. But it is so worth it. You just need to say yes.

“Wow. You’re amazing!” No, we’re not! But we are Christians, and God commands us to care for the orphans of this world. It is *not* a choice. It is a command. You don’t need a big house or tons of money or even a spouse. You just need to say yes.

“The world needs more people like you.” Yes, it does. But usually when people say this to me, I politely bite my tongue. Today, I can’t.

A week ago, we got a call about a teenager who previously lived with us for several months. She went back home, but ultimately wasn’t able to receive the stability she needed to be successful. It is not her fault that she was homeless. It is not her fault that she can't live with either of her parents. It is not her fault she was born into a cycle of poverty and addiction.

And yet, she has to pay the price.

Because of the severe lack of foster homes in our county, this girl is destined to live out the rest of her childhood in a group home for girls. That is, unless someone steps up to be a long-term resource for her... to be her (foster) family.

It is killing me, because if we were staying here (and not going to Nicaragua) we would most certainly keep her. But instead, we have three weeks to find someone to love and care for her, and offer her the stability she needs to finish high school and break the cycle.

I cried to a friend that I have found myself wondering about the timing of her return to our home. Are we supposed to stay here and care for her? My dear friend responded, “You can’t do it all, Wendy.”

She’s right, and I know that. And that’s what makes me mad. You see, I shouldn’t have to feel like this. There are 87,000 families in our county, but only 87 actual foster families. How many of those 87,000 are Christians? God said His church is supposed to be the ones caring for our orphans.

So where is the church in Harford County?

I’m tired of hearing all the Christians fighting against gay marriage or a racy book or whatever else is today’s big deal. God hasn’t commanded us to wage political wars, but He has told us that true religion is caring for orphans and widows. (James 1:27) I mean, really, 35,000 kids die of starvation each day and we’re staging protests over whether a major broadcaster continues airing a TV show we find repulsive?

I guess it’s easier to rant about it on Facebook than it is to open our homes to other peoples’ kids.

I get it. No one ever said orphan/foster care is easy. It involves making room for someone else in your life. It means frequent trips to doctor’s offices, dentists, counselors, and so on. It often requires setting aside your own needs for those of someone else… someone who just might be the “least of these” Jesus spoke about. (Matthew 25: 39-46). It’s hard.

But it is so unbelievably worth it.

I do not regret any of the time spent caring for the 17 kids we’ve loved over the past four years. My only regret about foster care is that during that whole time we haven’t convinced any of our friends to join us in living our God’s plan for His church. When we started this adventure, there were over 100 foster families here, now there are just 87. (Some have moved out of state, others have adopted so many kids they can’t take in any more.) This breaks my heart. I cannot even truly express to you the grief I have over this situation.

And so this is why I write today. I am imploring you… if you call Jesus the Lord of your life… stop and pray about what you can do to impact change in our community. I want to hear less about the latest Christian book you’re reading, or all those Christian songs speaking to you, and more about the hungry you’re feeding, the sick you’re caring for, and the kids you’re loving… because that is what it means to be children of God.

It’s not too late to make a significant change in the future of our community. It can be done. One pastor in Georgia inspired enough Christian families to care for 160 kids in their community! They virtually wiped out the need for kids to be sent to group homes in other cities.

These kids don’t want to grow up in group homes. They want families. They want what every kid wants… what every kid needs… just to be loved.

P.S. As I said before, you don’t need a big house (just a bed!), or lots of money (you get a monthly stipend to cover food and clothing, for example, and health care is covered by the state), or even a spouse (anyone over age 18 with a stable home and income can be a foster parent). They are so desperate for good families, the state will do whatever it takes to work with you to make this happen. They just need you to say yes.

[For the record: I am a conservative Christian girl who may not support the activities or behaviors of those around me, but try to love 'em all, whether they are liberal, are gay, read certain books (or don't read at all!), hate chocolate (how could you!), gossip all the time, watch TV shows I hate, or just say stupid stuff. I mean, we all have our issues...]

This was originally posted at wendywillard.com on 5/31/12.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Chris Scotland June 02, 2012 at 10:14 PM
And you will be judged. Maybe Wendy will not be reading but I sure am right now and find you to be disgusting. It was written to people who believes as she does. Not claims Christianity and then doesn't do what the Bible commands. Or lives like Christ! You have no right!
Chris Scotland June 02, 2012 at 10:15 PM
As a Christian I didn't feel any stones thrown. Just someone speaking her mind. Perhaps you should make a difference in the community as well before you go mouthing off about someone you don't know. Funny how people talk trash when all they know is your name.
Chris Scotland June 02, 2012 at 10:16 PM
You are a Christian? It's so evident by your posts. Lovingly giving your concerns. Ha! You are as much a christian as I am a Car.
Jill Stankis June 02, 2012 at 11:34 PM
I only have one thing left to say to all of you - Get a life. I made the mistake of speaking my mind because I had an opinion as did the author but the judgemental tone and hatred is so prevalent in this community that I will now get back to "making a difference to those less fortunate as me" as I do every day of my life and you will never hear from me again. I have way more important things to do with my life. I am convinced that those who claim to be Christians need to really examine their motives for spewing hatred themselves as they respond to others. All I can say is get a life people. How pathetic.
Erinn June 02, 2012 at 11:48 PM
I have been thinking all day of how to respond to these comments. Now I don't have to because Chris said everything I am feeling. Thanks!!!
dug benks June 03, 2012 at 12:07 AM
weny muy wief n i r buzy tryin to putt 2gethr a buznes froem our hoem. if ur innerestid i ken help u owt. ide reely liek 2 bruing a kit innor hoem n teech hym all abot lief n help wit hoemwerk n teh kit ken help wit r buznes. theanks 4 teh poest
dug benks June 03, 2012 at 12:08 AM
dose any1 liev neer teh mcandalds inn frost hill?
Maggie June 03, 2012 at 01:13 AM
People, can we please be adults here? And might I suggest that if Wendy has offended you in some way, the Holy Spirit might be poking at your conscience just a little?
franking June 03, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Indeed, Maggie.
Sally Oxx June 03, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Thank you, Maggie. I've read everything on here and all I can say about some of the responses-- is ----How sad. What has happened to people?? I am 62 years old and am shocked at how people talk and treat others. Wendy's remarks were a wake-up call to let everyone know what is/is not happening in regards to displaced kids.
Pickles Baltimore June 03, 2012 at 09:24 PM
As someone who raised someone else's child---a child coming from a home of addiction and profound dysfunction---I understand how frustrating it is to know that there are so many potentially "lost" children who don't have safe harbor for their development. But, at least to my mind, a "call to action" in the form of shaming helps no one, particularly if it could elicit indignation (as evidenced by some of the posts). Zeroing in on shaming Christians puts one at risk for insulting people's personal relationship with their faith, also potentially a bad idea. Whether its "Christian" values or (from this atheist's standpoint) a desire to connect with humanity in a meaningful way, we must understand that we all reserve the right to explore for ourselves how we can make a difference. Offering your experience as a foster-parent without shaming could do more to advance your cause. If Sally Struthers conveyed a similar message for the Christian Children's Fund, I'm not sure CCF would've been able to pay the bill for their toll-free number. I don't say this jokingly. No matter how angry any of us may become about "social injustice," the most powerful messages often come from a place where we trust in others' intelligence and then take it from there.
Tom Brandis June 04, 2012 at 11:24 AM
"By the way, I was not coaxed into writing this response." No, really!?. I find that hard to believe since your comments here are the only ones you've posted on this website, ever. "And you will be judged" Wow, you must have some higher connection with Christ than I do to know that. "I'm speechless" Maybe you should be.
Bel Air Native June 04, 2012 at 12:07 PM
The Christian-bashing was the only good part of this blog.
Rebecca June 04, 2012 at 03:51 PM
I have tried to foster within my own Family and been turned away for something as stupid as I did not have a licensed child care provider already?? I did not have kids why would I have a child care provider? Now it becomes and issue because my Son's Father has struggled with mental illness, so I am what supposed to kick him out and raise my Son and the foster children alone. I appreciate your "call to arms" so to speak but your ideals are seriously dilutted, fostering is not something everyone in the world can do because of situations like Brown Eyes and Mine, but also because DSS is a bunch of hypocritical morons.
Rebecca June 04, 2012 at 03:54 PM
WOW!!
Jeff June 04, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Smh at most of these comments.
Kirsten Dize June 04, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Check out the followup post from Wendy here: http://patch.com/B-TRm
Tom Brandis June 05, 2012 at 11:33 AM
"Unfortunately, I was also blasted by a few people here. Such hateful responses indicate those readers weren't even part of the intended audience, and I'm sorry that type of negativity distracted from the key point." Everyone is the intended audience when you post on a public forum. "Seriously, my post was not intended to make anyone feel condemned" Really!? It sure didn't come off that way. I love that you give no oppertunity in your new post for people to respond, you narrow minded dimwit.
Karl Schuub June 05, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Christians donate more money, donate more time and care for their own communities in far greater numbers than any other demographic...why doesn't this lady blog a call to arms towards liberals...those squishy, pin headed, self-righteous finger pointers that demand justice and giving and are also far less likely to do squat for anyone else.
Siege June 05, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Why aren't we allowed to comment on your follow-up to this article?
dug benks June 05, 2012 at 12:38 PM
charmany chrissmass evrybody, caint we jus git all long?
Wings June 05, 2012 at 01:18 PM
I think to sum up most of the comments on here it would be as the old saying goes, you get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. And I think the second "follow up " blog was just a feeble attemt to turn her vinegar into honey. Leaving no way to respond it , well that really was no surprise. Let me end by saying that the last time I checked THIS was an open forum for everyone not just Christians. If you do not want the backlash then maybe save such postings for a Christian Only web site. Even at that i still think many would find the delivery a bitter pill to swallow.
Tom Brandis June 05, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Wings, I wish there was a "Like" button for your comment.
Kirsten Dize June 05, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Patch is not a place for name calling. We have a variety of bloggers from religious, to finance and real estate, to nature, to health. Patch is a platform for sharing with the community. Discussion and debate is great, but let's remember to keep it civil, folks. -KD
Carol June 05, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Thank You Kirsten, I can't believe some of the comments, just because we don't agree on something does not mean we need to stoop to name calling that's what kids do. This just might be an eye opener to someone that would like to have foster children, and that would be there choice. Not everyone is up to the challenge it takes lots of Love, Work and Care. We can all do something one way or another to help, it might be sitting for those that do foster care 24/7, we might make a meal, donate time there are loads of things we might do, but most important is Prayer. Pray for those families and the ones that have their children in foster care that they become a whole family again.
bs June 05, 2012 at 06:50 PM
I think you said it right, Kirsten, it is a platform for sharing with the community, not condemning them, and should be to the "community" in general, not just to a segment of the community. Would it be ok if I sent out a note the fellow black citizens of the community on this forum; I don't think so.
Leslie Schildgen June 05, 2012 at 07:02 PM
how much money do you get per month for each kid
Ahmad0001 December 18, 2012 at 06:06 AM
You cannot put foster kids in bunk beds, and they cannot share a *bed* with another child, but they can share a room. http://www.onlinedatastoragesite.com/softwares/use-free-online-storage-options-to-keep-your-data-safe.html
molly carrol January 25, 2013 at 08:58 AM
Hi Wendy, nice article indeed. Really like the monologue which describe the condition very well. <a href="http://www.clatterrings.net">wedding preparation</a>
Phillius Thomas August 07, 2013 at 05:56 PM
I am looking into different child placement agency's and I feel bad about all the kids who have to be there, but it is better than nothing.

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