One of the transformational works that Living Word Church, Lansing, IL has been involved with has been fostering children. Most have brought the love of Jesus to families through fostering children through Safe Homes For Children.
When crisis strikes, many of us rely on relatives and our church family for support. But for some parents, there isn’t a safety net. Often problems such as drug addiction, domestic abuse, incarceration, or illness can be debilitating, making it impossible for parents to care for their children. With the changing economy many more families are experiencing financial crisis, unemployment, and homelessness. During such crisis, children are especially at-risk for neglect or abuse as their parents struggle to cope with crushing circumstances and emotions.
Safe Families for Children has offered sanctuary to thousands of children, minimizing the risk for abuse or neglect and giving parents the time and tools they need to help their families thrive. The ultimate goal is to strengthen and support parents so they can become Safe Families for their own children.
Each family below has a uniquely different story to tell. Each one is worth watching.
The first family we will hear from are Larry and Ellen Barker.
Above Video: Larry and Ellen Share Their Story
The Barker’s first foster child was a 3 day old baby whose mom was in Prison. Because of the care given to the baby, the visits to the Prison where Ellen brought the baby to see her mom, and sharing Jesus, the mom came into relationship with Jesus committing her life to the Lord.
They have also taken in a special needs child who had a stroke. When the baby arrived, he couldn’t sit up nor do much of anything. Both Larry and Ellen learned what they needed to know to help the child from many people and when the child went back to his family 9 months later, he could sit up and feed himself.
You could say that fostering and adoption is a transformational theme of how the churches in the Chicago region have been moved to bring the life of Jesus and His Kingdom to their world. Listen to their story as they share how this has transformed them as well as to the families they have been ministering.
Larry and Ellen have 9 children of their own and everyone pitches in to bring life to these precious foster children. They all have learned what it means to deny themselves for the needs of another.
The next family is Neil and Lori O’Dea.
Listen to each family member as they share that although there are difficulties and inconveniences in fostering, they each have been transformed by the servanthood God has involved them in. They say the blessings are worth everything!
Above Video: Neil and Lori O’Dea And Family Share Their Story
Bob and Brittany Jansma have chosen to “foster to adopt” through the Indiana child welfare. Bob and Brittany have adopted one son and continually foster other children. They both see this as a call of God on their lives. Listen as they share how although they had to struggle through a lot of red tape, God has helped them realize their hope and dreams.
Above Video: Bob and Brittany Share Their Story
Andy & Michelle Smith
Andy & Michelle have always felt they would have a family in addition to children born to them.
Andy had mentored Illya for several years and when Illya’s mom needed some help, Andy and Michelle brought Illya into their family as a spiritual son.
Andy and Michelle have a 3 year old daughter, Autumn and are expecting another child.
Andy is the Youth Pastor at Living Word Church where the family actively participates.
Above Video: Andy, Michelle & Illya Share Their Story