BRIDGETON – A map of the nation created by “Together for Adoption” – a Christian conference for adoptive families – suggests that churches around the United States could take care of the nation’s orphan care problem if Christians fully engage in caring for the fatherless.
In Missouri, according to the map, there are only 2,067 orphans in Missouri, but there are 8,973 churches of various denominations within the state. So Missouri churches could erase the orphan problem in the state if only one family out of every four churches adopted.
But according to Russell Martin, president of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (MBCH), solving the orphan problem in the state is not as simple as it would appear to be – especially if the term “orphan” is expanded to include “children in state custody.”
“Last year alone, over 7,195 children entered foster care in the state of Missouri,” Martin said. “This number was an all-time high.”
Last year alone, over 7,195 children entered foster care in the state of Missouri. This number was an all-time high. – Russell Martin
Of these children in the foster care system, 42 percent were under the age of 4, 25 percent were between the ages of 5 to 9, 27 percent were ages 10 to 15, and 6 percent were 16 or older.
There are a total of more than 13,000 children in Missouri’s foster care system.
“It is important for the church to step up and respond to the needs of these children and their families,” Martin said. “Not only that, it is important for the church to fully engage itself to be proactive and minister to families in crises, with the hope and expectation that the family will not be disrupted or dysfunctional, but be the family God desires for His children.
“We need to be attentive to the needs of families not only in our congregations, but also in our communities—even those who may never darken the door of the church. As to those children in foster care, it is important for Christians to pray about how God would have them respond to provide hope and restoration to these young lives.”
Missouri Baptists can pray for foster children and those who are caring for them, Martin said. They can serve as a foster home or adopt. They can provide “resources for foster homes, such as babysitting, gift cards for meals out, recreation, school supplies” and other needs. Churches may decide to begin foster care ministries.
“MBCH stands ready,” Martin said, “to assist churches in responding to what God has called them to do.”