Often times, when Christians talk about James 1:27, adoption and foster care are the primary means presented for living "true religion." But the scripture doesn't pinpoint these two options as superior - or the fulfillment of the law. James 1:27 states:
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
- James 1:27
Looking after orphans is not exclusively for those who can open their homes to children in need of families. Rather, it is an expression of the compassion and heart of the Father, demonstrated by believers. It is an opportunity for those bearing the name of Christ, to express the love with which we were adopted into the family of God.
"What else can I do?"
It's a common, and important, question. Not everyone can - or even should - open their home through foster care or adoption. But there are numerous ways to open your heart to them! Here are some ways you can intentionally engage in loving vulnerable children and youth:
Prayer is powerful and effective. Individual and corporate prayer for children in need of families; biological, foster, and adoptive families; children who have experienced grief, loss, and trauma; orphanage, social, agency, and case plan workers; and judges are critical!
2. Become a CASA
A CASA advocates for the best interest of a child in the foster care system. As a volunteer, they are unbiased to state or private agencies, and work with the child’s team to ensure their needs are being met. Becoming a CASA is a commitment of time, energy, and emotional strength. Regulations vary from state to state. If you would like more information on how to become a CASA, please visit the CASA for Children Organizations’ Website.
3. Assemble Foster Care Kits
Many times, children enter the foster care system with nothing but the clothes on their back. Even transitions between homes can be sudden, and leave a child without their possessions. In the moments these children are facing great loss and grief, they are also dealing with the shame of not having their own belongings – or carrying them in a trash bag. By providing a reusable bag, filled with items of personal care and comfort, you can meet both physical and emotional needs for children who are in care. Items can include things such as toothbrushes, hair care items (make sure these are ethnically diverse!), lotion, soap, journals or coloring books, and a blanket.
4. Advocate for Children in Need of Families
Organizations like Mid-Atlantic Orphan Care Coalition share the stories of children in need of families. You can help advocate for these children by sharing their stories, and helping others realize the severity of the orphan crisis!
5. Meet a Practical Need
Help provide practical items, or a meal, for families that have opened their home to children. This can be as fancy as throwing a shower, or as simple as ordering supplies to be delivered to their door! Clothes, furniture, safety gear, and diapers are some suggested items a family you know may need.
6. Become a Mentor
Open your heart by cultivating relationship through being present and trustworthy. In connection with the child's caregivers and/or parents, schedule routine times to connect, talk, and enjoy age-appropriate activities. Children from hard places need consistent, kind, and compassionate people to connect with. Often times, these mentor/mentoree relationships follow children in care, even as they transition to new homes or families, making them a necessary component to providing security for these vulnerable kids!
Want more information on how you can get involved? Visit our JOIN US page!
It is not only possible, but necessary, for people who are not opening their homes to open their hearts!