Every Child

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Posted 12/19/14 at 5:41 PM | Bill Blacquiere

Look Beyond a Need . . . And Experience Giving

Today’s guest blog is contributed by Amylynn Warners, a Bethany staff member whose own personal story of crisis has given her a passion to share Bethany with others and a new perspective on giving. To hear Amylynn’s story, shared in her own voice, listen here.

It seems like eons ago­—and sometimes even like it was someone else’s experience—but it is mine and I cannot forget it. I learned so much from that time, especially about giving.

The timing for the “acts of God”—situations and circumstances I could not control—was perfectly queued. Everything seemed to happen at once. The snowball formed, and it traveled a longer path than I would know at the time. Along the way it also collected consequences from my own ignorance and immaturity. It became a seemingly unbearable burden on my sagging shoulders. FULL POST

Posted 12/18/14 at 9:00 PM | Bill Blacquiere

Progress and Perspective: Lessons from Africa

Last month I traveled once again to Africa, where I was privileged to not only see encouraging progress but also gain a fresh perspective.

When I visited South Africa last year, an official from the government accompanied me as we toured a neighborhood in one of the poorest townships there. The organization I lead, Bethany Christian Services, had begun efforts to rescue orphans and other children who were in abusive homes. Tears streamed down the official’s face as she listened to residents share horror stories of sexual and physical abuse of the children in their neighborhoods, begging us to do something about it.

On this trip I met with the same government official, and her tears turned to smiles. In fact, she was beaming. “When you were here last year, I didn’t know what could be done, but now I have hope.” FULL POST

Posted 12/16/14 at 7:18 PM | Bill Blacquiere

Doing What Jesus Wants—Before We Don’t [Ever] Do It . . .

Today’s guest post is contributed by Clare De Graaf, author of The 10-Second Rule. Clare enjoys engaging in coffee-shop conversations about how following Jesus works in real life. What he learns, he shares on his blog. He invites you to join the conversation here.

For the last dozen years as a Christian, I’ve tried to live by the 10-Second Rule. Here it is: “Just do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do.” (And do it quickly before you change your mind!)

“If you love me, you will obey me.” Jesus says this in John 14:15.

But here’s what often happens: We’re watching TV or a YouTube video, see a story about children in poverty, and are instantly moved to respond. However, as soon as that impression comes, right behind it we sense this other “voice”—the “voice of reason” telling us why we don’t really need to do anything but pray. Why does the other voice win so often?

It’s because we know that almost every obedient act is going to cost us something— time, money, inconvenience, embarrassment—something! On the other hand, by saying no to God, we can save ourselves all of that. And it’s human nature to choose the easiest way. FULL POST

Posted 12/15/14 at 1:22 PM | Bill Blacquiere

Religion and the Law: Protecting Our Faith and Convictions

Bethany global board member Troy Cumings and I recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with legislators and their aides to seek their support for the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014 (CWPIA). This bill, introduced by Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) and Representative Mike Kelly (R-Pennsylvania), was designed to protect faith-based organizations such as ours by ensuring that we can let our moral and religious convictions guide us. Who would have thought that we would need a new law to protect what our constitution guarantees?

Faith-based organizations—like the one I lead, Bethany Christian Services—are under fire to comply with policies that could cause us to compromise our beliefs. Some may even choose to close their doors rather than comply, as did most of the Catholic Charities’ affiliates in Illinois in 2011. A new state law had required them to accept same-sex couples as adoptive and foster parents, a policy that did not align with their convictions. FULL POST

Posted 12/9/14 at 2:15 PM | Bill Blacquiere

Your Home: The Safest Place for a Child

Could the church replace the foster care system? Historically, when children were abandoned or abused, it was the church that stepped in to care for them. In fact, what we now know as foster care began as an effort in the mid-nineteenth century to place 30,000 homeless children from New York City into Christian families. Eventually, oversight of foster care went to state governments, but the church still has a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate its love for hurting kids and their families.

Dr. Dave Anderson founded Safe Families for ChildrenTM, a ministry in which Christian families provide short-term care for children as an alternative to foster care. Currently, more than 11,000 families in 25 states have volunteered with the program. The organization I lead, Bethany Christian Services, began partnering with Safe Families in 2007, and the results have been staggering. For example, I met an “empty nester” couple in Pennsylvania who have taken in 15 children while other volunteers from their church worked with those troubled families. All but one child was reunited with their family after a relatively short period of time. FULL POST

Posted 12/3/14 at 9:06 PM | Bill Blacquiere

The Ties that Bind

Today's guest blog is contributed by Fred Patten, father of six children.

I heard an old hymn on the radio the other day— “Blest be the ties that bind our hearts in Christian love, the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.” We all know what that hymn is about, but I’ve been thinking about those words “the ties that bind” differently lately. I’ve been thinking about what binds a family’s hearts together. How do we accomplish this binding, this bonding?

I imagine something like emotional and spiritual threads binding our hearts together, looping around and around, each thread weak by itself. But when there are hundreds or thousands of them, the bond is unbreakable. We parents, and our children as well, can make choices that add another binding thread or cut those tender threads that have already been carefully wound around our hearts. FULL POST

Posted 11/25/14 at 6:18 PM | Bill Blacquiere

When Foster Care Fails a Child

Today’s guest blog is contributed by Kris Faasse, Senior Vice President of Clinical Services at Bethany and recent guest host of our Every Child podcast with Steve Pemberton.

With more than 400,000 children in the United States living in foster care and a national average of more than 23,000 youth aging out of the foster care system every year, the need for families for these kids and especially for teens is great. Our N.O.W. (No One Without) Initiative promotes foster care adoption to help ensure that no child goes without a loving family. But what happens when a child gets stuck in the system and has only a secret he cannot share?

At the age of 3, Steve was separated from his five siblings and their unstable, alcoholic mother. His first foster family literally left him out in the cold. His second, where he stayed for a decade, was worse. Subjected to extraordinary cruelty, Steve grew up without positive support, nurturing, or training for success. But what he did have—along with the comfort of books given to him by a benevolent neighbor and read to escape the harsh reality of his childhood—was a keen attention to sounds, faces, and words. FULL POST

Posted 11/20/14 at 11:28 AM | Bill Blacquiere

Posted 11/18/14 at 10:46 AM | Bill Blacquiere

How Poverty Disrupts Families

When a child is removed from a home because of neglect, you think “bad parent,” right? According to Darrell “DJ” Jordan, that’s not always the case. DJ, a senior congressional aide to U.S. Representative Sam Graves (R-Missouri), explains that neglect is seldom intentional, especially in the African American community.

According to DJ, poverty forces many parents to make choices that on the surface seem neglectful. A single mom buying shoes for her kids instead of paying the electric bill, for example. So when her power is shut off, local authorities remove the children and place them with a foster family. Bad parent?

“Wherever there is a higher concentration of poverty, you have a higher foster care population, and in the African American community, 1 in 4 live in poverty—nearly double the rest of the population. They love their children as much as anyone but don’t have the resources to adequately care for them.” FULL POST

Posted 11/13/14 at 9:25 PM | Bill Blacquiere

The Biology of Adoption—How Science Helps us Love

Today’s blog is contributed by Sarah McCarthy, film director of The Dark Matter of Love.

I didn’t know much about adoption before I started making my film, The Dark Matter of Love. It’s about three Russian children learning to love their adoptive American parents through a scientific intervention. I hadn’t really given adoption much thought, to be honest.

Over the course of making the film, I saw what an incredible difference the love of a family can make to children in a relatively short space of time, and I—for the first time—began to consider adoption as a way to build my own family. I’ve still got a few years before it’s time to start thinking about children, but if I had the chance to adopt a little girl as special as Masha (the main character in the film, with whom I fell completely in love), I’d jump at it. So I learned that adoption is extraordinary and that by adopting someone and loving them every day, you change their biology, making you biologically related even if your genetics are different. FULL POST

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