NASHVILLE (BP) – The task can seem daunting. Most estimates put the number of children and teens in foster care at 400,000 at any given time.
But Send Relief’s Family Advocacy Ministry (FAM) program is trying to tackle the problem one child – and one church – at a time. In fact FAM is hosting a webinar Nov. 15 for those who want to learn more about how their church can help. (Register here.)
Josh Benton, vice president of North American ministry for Send Relief, explained FAM is a “step-by-step ministry strategy that helps churches serve and advocate for vulnerable children and families.”
Meeting the great need should be a priority for all local churches, Benton said.
“No matter what community, city, or state you are in, vulnerable families are present,” he told Baptist Press.
“This isn’t a ministry opportunity that is somewhere else; it’s everywhere. Churches have an important role of recognizing the need that exists, articulating the biblical call to meet the need, and blessing those in their congregation who are led to pursue the ministry opportunity.”
Benton made it clear that the ultimate goal of FAM ministry is fulfilling the Great Commission.
“At the center of every FAM is the Gospel,” Benton said. “Because FAMs are church based, each FAM is designed to care for the physical and emotional needs of families and children but also point to our ultimate need, salvation in Christ.
“When a church goes on mission, it is obediently following the call of the Great Commission. In serving others we all can meet the needs of people around us, but we also have the opportunity to share the Gospel. When we do this, many will come to know Christ and followers of Christ will grow in their faith. This ultimately gives glory to God by proclaiming His name and strengthening the local church.”
One recent challenge for FAM and the foster care system as a whole has been the difficulties brought on by the pandemic.
Benton said although exact statistics related to foster care are sometimes hard to discern, the pandemic had negative effects on vulnerable children.
“When you factor the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, foster children faced a disrupted support system that they would typically receive in an educational environment,” he said.