Did you know that for a time during the Roman Empire, it was legal to leave an infant outside and abandon them if they were unwanted? The practice was called infant ‘exposure’. It was a way of dealing with costly, ‘defected’ or illegitimate children in the ancient world. Many children died this way, while some were taken by strangers and eventually raised as slaves.
The early Christian church however, moved by the gospel, decided to change this practice. Christians began to listen for the cries of these babies, find them on rubbish heaps, and bring them home. These children were rescued and raised—not as slaves, but as adopted children and heirs.
Did you know that in Australia right now, there are over forty-six thousand children who don’t live at home with their families?
Did you know that there are over 9,000 children in Queensland alone who live in out-of-home, kinship and foster care? All of these children are in need of loving, permanent homes.
That’s a big number! Overwhelming even, when you consider how many foster and kinship families are still needed right now to take care of them. But not so overwhelming when we remember that each of them has been uniquely made by our God, on purpose, for a beautiful purpose.
He knows each of their names and has plans for each one. Not one is forgotten by Him.
God’s plan for the church is to make known His greatness, and demonstrate His great love for the world. Our God is the ‘father to the fatherless’ and the ‘defender of orphans’. He gives ‘homes to the lonely’ and is ‘close to the broken hearted.’
So, we know our God is concerned for these children, and we know that it is our calling as the church to care for these vulnerable, hurting children in our nation.
So, as the family of God, the question is not if we can help these children – but how. Maybe we can’t all be adoptive families, but what can we do to help demonstrate God’s love to these children?
Well, everybody can do something.
We need mums whose hearts are moved by fiery compassion to fight for the hearts of these children. We need fathers who will stand to protect them from harm, provide for them and teach them of their Father in heaven. But we also need ‘grandparents’ to read them bedtime stories, and be at the sidelines of their sports matches, cheering them on louder than everybody else. We need ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’, and friends to encourage, to pray for, to babysit, to play with and to share their wisdom.
We need families. We need tribes. We need places for them to belong. We need the village.
Maybe we can’t all adopt these children, but we can fulfil our calling as the adopted children of God: to love as He has loved us.
In answer to this call, we’ve been working on a resource for your church family. To help you step in and help be the family of God on a mission together. It’s called You Parties. It’s a party-throwing kit that allows a team of a few to partner with a foster family, and help them celebrate their foster-child. Because every child is worth celebrating. And every child is created by God, in His image— and it is the church’s call to love and care for these children and extend the love of our God’s great big family.