A few months ago, Bethesda’s board clarified our vision statement, stating that our vision is:
to mobilize churches and individuals to meet the needs of orphans so that they might become disciples of Christ.
As I reflect on the previous year, it is easy to count many churches that are intentionally caring for orphan and vulnerable children in their church, community, or at Bethesda. Looking ahead to the coming year, I am asking God to use Bethesda in greater ways to accomplish this vision.
This kind of collaborative care is not a one-time event, but often involves many smaller steps over time, that slowly produces changed lives. I want to share a quick story of how one church has decided to use their space, time, and abilities to care for abandoned babies. For years, Bethany Baptist Church in Pretoria, has had a counseling ministry to ladies considering abortion. This church actively opens God’s Word and shares truth for many hours each year and we praise God that the lives of many unborn children have been saved because of it.
Early in 2019, the church began dreaming about expanding their counseling ministry to also include providing a temporary safe home for abandoned babies until a long-term family could bring that child into their home. According to a news outlet in South Africa, over 10,000 babies are abandoned each year with 2/3rds of them dying before anyone discovers they have been abandoned.
This church wanted to do more to meet the needs of orphaned and abandoned children, but needed some help to continue. Their desire was in line with God the Father’s character, as well as the vision and mission of Bethesda Outreach. You may recall that we raised money to help start a Temporary Safe Care Ministry for our 2018 Christmas Project. When we heard about the church’s desire, we began looking for ways to help and part of that assistance was getting more people involved. Bethesda began actively recruiting a group of skilled laborers to help renovate a home they had available as there was a lot of work to be done. In September, two electricians, a plumber, and a tiler, along with a handful of general laborers from both the USA and SA came to help. In total, this group represented seven different churches and spent 642 hours over nine days to restore this house. They all applied their unique skills, time, and talent to accomplish more together than any one individual or one church could do on their own. It amazes me the work that was done to completely renovate this home to be ready to care for babies in need of family. What a beautiful picture of the body of Christ working together!
Please be in prayer for Bethany Baptist Church as they seek out church members to live in and be the primary care givers for the children who will be temporarily placed in their care. Praise God for the, as yet, unborn children that will hear of His mighty work on their behalf, so that they might come to know Him as their Heavenly Father.
In 2020, you or your local church may not be ready to take a giant leap like this one in caring for orphan and vulnerable children, but that is okay! Not every church will care for foster children in the same way as God has gifted each person and local church differently. At the beginning of this new year, look for ways you can intentionally take the next step of obedience in caring for the fatherless.
If you need some ideas or ways to begin here is a short list of ideas:
1) Bring a team to serve at Bethesda and see first-hand how we and others help.
2) Begin praying specifically for children in the foster care system or for families at Bethesda
3) Give to Bethesda’s General Fund to help support strong families
4) Volunteer regularly
5) Read a book about foster care
6) Speak with a social worker to see how you could meet needs in your community