BY AMY BROOKS
Foster care is a complex ministry. We entered this new season with the intention to keep children safe. We now realize Jesus had an even broader brushstroke in mind. Certainly, our primary responsibility is to open our lives to a child from traumatic experiences. But we never considered the abundance of new people our lives would intersect—therapists, case managers, attorneys, CASA volunteers, WIC office employees, biological family members. At every turn there seems to be someone in need of the hope of Jesus. These new rhythms in our lives have jolted us out of our comfort and into a reality that our culture is far more broken than we ever imagined. Yet it’s given us a chance to share about Jesus more boldly than before this journey began. In the first five minutes of receiving our first placement, we were undone as we were told the child’s circumstances. I literally put my hand up and said, “I can’t hear more.” But I HAVE heard much more—and I am at a point where it no longer concerns me whether I look foolish in sharing about the grace of Jesus—I am convinced now more than ever that He is “able to do far more abundantly, beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20 NASB1) and so I am asking Him for big things. And I will say it is satisfying to my soul to have a front row seat to all that God is orchestrating on behalf of our foster children. He is more powerful to me than ever.
Recently through the Unself sermon series, we see Jesus tell the grumbling Pharisees, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31 NASB 1) He is reminding our family that the gospel is indeed for all people. In fact, it is so overwhelmingly obvious that in the traumatic circumstances of foster care, Jesus is THE only answer to the brokenness. To enter the ministry of foster care is to merely be a willing vessel. The Brooks family has not rescued anyone—that is reserved SOLELY for the work of Jesus Christ and His glory. It serves our family well to be reminded that before we answered the call of Christ on our lives, we too were enemies of God. Who are we to decide who Christ will call? Jesus reminds me He came for the addicted biological parent who can’t get clean by simply pulling himself or herself together. Culture assigns value to some and not to others. However, Jesus assigns value to us all. Praise God for His grace!
TO ENTER THE MINISTRY OF FOSTER CARE IS TO MERELY BE A WILLING VESSEL.
For almost six months our foster babies have been a part of our family. It is a privilege to love them and care for their needs. We have a choice in how we view their family of origin—do we choose what culture says and judge the value of the life of their mother? Or do we choose the way of Jesus and get to know her as he got to know Levi and his friends in Luke 5? God has moved us to choose the latter. Each week their mother and I meet at the CPS office so that she can see her children for one hour. The drive is thirty minutes one way. Some days she cancels when I am almost to the office. At one visit, I am certain she was under the influence of drugs. It would be easy to assign her a label, and elevate myself and the care our family gives to her children. In fact, it might feel good to count myself as a better mother than her. But then doesn’t that put me in the Pharisee camp? I am called to choose another perspective. A simple one. I have gotten to know her. Most weeks we both arrive early and have some time to talk about the week. We hug and sometimes pray. Mom to mom. She has shared how she would like her life to be—goals and dreams that she would like to see come to life. How she hates what drugs have done to her life—and how she hates that she cannot quit. In her sober state, I find her to be no different than most moms I know. It is a reminder to me of the grace I have received from Jesus, and that I desperately want her to follow Him, too.
WE WERE ALONE FOR A FEW MINUTES MORE AND SHE SAID, “I KNOW YOU LOVE JESUS. I LOVE HIM, TOO, BUT I HAVE SOME ISSUES.”
This past week she shared with me that she hasn’t been going to church anymore—that answering probing questions about the children are just too hard for her. She is embarrassed. I shared with her some thoughts from the sermon I had just listened to about our Death to Self-Righteousness, explaining that sadly those who are judging her must not know they are sick too and in need of Jesus. That, if anything, the church is a hospital for us all. We were alone for a few minutes more and she said, “I know you love Jesus. I love Him, too, but I have some issues.” My response? “Yes, I am aware. But remember I have issues, too. Mine just aren’t illegal.” And isn’t that true of most of us? We DO have issues just like the sinners at Levi’s party where Jesus attended. Yet Jesus came to the party anyway. He came because of his deep love for their souls. When I have moments where I am quick to judge the reasoning behind a person’s issues, Jesus reminds me the gospel is for all people. And that Jesus is Lord over ALL things. I can ask Him for victory in this mom’s life and in my own. As we continue through this Unself sermon series, I look forward to God becoming even bigger in my eyes, and that my need for Him will be constantly before me as our family moves toward loving through foster care as Jesus does.
1Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.