Posted 5/16/13 at 11:00 AM | Bill Blacquiere
Imagine yourself as a single mom with three young children. Your doctor discovers a health issue that requires surgery and a hospital stay. Your parents live in another state and both work. You have a few friends, but none close enough that you’d consider asking them to take care of your children while you’re in the hospital. As the date approaches for your surgery, you become desperate. Who’s going to watch your children?
That’s what Stephanie wondered, until she heard about Safe Families for ChildrenTM (SFFC). Through this national movement, Stephanie’s three children were taken in by a wonderful Christian couple in her city. A month after her surgery, Stephanie and her children were back together again.
“If it wasn’t for Safe Families [for Children], I don’t know what I would have done,” Stephanie told a local reporter. “I think the State would have taken my children.”
Safe Families for Children is a national movement of compassion that gives hope to families in crisis. Safe, loving homes are provided where parents seek to restore stability in their lives. Safe Families for Children has partnered with churches, local community agencies, and volunteer families, as well as government organizations in more than a dozen states. FULL POST
Posted 5/15/13 at 8:50 AM | Bill Blacquiere
While Bethany Christian Services finds families here in the United States for orphaned children from Africa, the organization’s primary focus has shifted over the past several years to supporting local governments in Africa by providing best practices and training to help develop in-country social services to protect families and children. Our efforts include working in Ethiopia and other African countries to introduce foster-to-adopt programs—uniting orphaned children with couples willing to open their homes to provide care for these vulnerable children. Our hope is that after caring for these children that the couple will decide to make them a permanent part of their family through adoption. Thus far, progress across the continent is better than we could have imagined.
As I’m sure you are aware, the number of orphans in Africa is only one of the continent’s many challenges. Poor sanitation coverage and access to safe drinking water are also serious issues impacting the lives of so many—specifically sub-Saharan Africa where 70% of people do not have access to proper sanitation coverage and 61% lack clean water. To make clean water more accessible, organizations such as Blood:Water Mission work diligently to provide people in remote regions with the tools necessary to create new water sources or improve existing sources. FULL POST
Posted 5/10/13 at 4:55 PM | Bill Blacquiere |
Economic realities of the last few years have had a significant effect on many parents. They struggle—from providing basic needs such as food and a place to live to securing adequate childcare as they work in full- or part-time jobs that do not earn enough for them to provide life-giving homes for their children. The United States Census Bureau reported that in 2011, there were 46.2 million people in poverty. Many others are fighting each day to stay above that poverty line.
Bethany sees people and families in these situations daily, and strives to provide assistance with various programs and by partnering with others to meet needs and keep families together. The following are a few of examples.
Life Impact Fund
Research has shown that over 70 percent of women have an abortion due to financial reasons. In the United States, only 1.3 percent of births to unmarried women result in adoption. Some of the birthparents coming to us indicate that they cannot afford to raise another child as they already have one or two children. These are single parents who are working and trying to support themselves and their children. Bethany's counselors work with these mothers in a variety of ways to help them parent their children—providing assistance with immediate and urgent financial needs through our Life Impact Fund. Through this fund, small amounts of aid are provided that can help a woman with rent or food for her family’s immediate need. It is our desire that if an expectant mother chooses to place her child for adoption, it is for reasons beyond financial need. FULL POST
Posted 5/7/13 at 4:32 PM | Bill Blacquiere |
As much as I support efforts by activists and politicians to try and change abortion laws, I’ve always felt that real, lasting change will take place when Christians “fight” abortion with the love and grace of Christ. That’s not always easy, and it doesn’t mean we abandon the political process, so I was encouraged when I read an article in Christianity Today titled “Hold Baby Showers, Not Political Debates.” The author of that article, Angie Weszely, believes that God is so much bigger than any political platform and that Christians need to represent God’s heart when it comes to both the woman with an unplanned pregnancy and the baby she is carrying.
After reading the article, I was eager to talk with Angie, who leads Caris, a faith-based pregnancy counseling agency. She echoes much of my own thinking about how we as Christians can influence women who think abortion is their only choice. As you will hear, Angie brings such a positive spirit and love for God into the pro-life arena. Her passion for the local church as the means to transform the abortion landscape is infectious—she really believes it can happen, and I do too! FULL POST
Posted 5/2/13 at 3:52 PM | Bill Blacquiere
Today is National Day of Prayer and it could not come at a more needy time as events remind us once again how vulnerable we are; how fragile life is. A little boy lies silent beside his ballet-dancer sister who has lost her legs in a heinous act of terror. Dozens of families in Texas instantly homeless as an inferno vaporizes a neighborhood. Our president and others in government targeted with a deadly poison. And still too fresh in our memories, iconic names such as Newtown and Aurora. It is a shame that it takes tragedies and threats such as these to drive us to our knees, but at the same time it is an incredible blessing that we know who to turn to when our hearts are so heavily burdened.
National Day of Prayer traces its origin all the way back to our first president, George Washington. It was formally designated by Congress in 1952 as a day for people across the nation “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.” This year, the theme chosen for this special day is “Pray for America,” highlighted by the verse, “In his name the nations will put their hope.” (Matthew 12:2 NIV)
From the very beginning, our nation was founded on biblical principles of justice, equality, and compassion and has been bathed in the prayers of righteous, godly people. When the first convention to craft our constitution stalled due to divisiveness among the delegates, Benjamin Franklin proposed “prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business." When the first Senate convened in 1789, one of its first acts was to appoint a chaplain. And I am convinced that our nation’s position of leadership and influence throughout the world is due, in part, to the millions of Christians who pray daily for their nation, their leaders, their military, and each other. FULL POST
Posted 5/1/13 at 2:16 PM | Bill Blacquiere
By Kimberly Offutt, Bethany Christian Services N.O.W. liaison and adoptive mother. The No One Without (N.O.W.) campaign is an effort to spread awareness about the needs of youth in foster care and move us to action on their behalf.
Children are waiting.
“I’ve been waiting for two years for a family.”
“I’ve been in foster care for five years.”
“We waited for a family to adopt us together for two years. I finally told my worker to split us up; my little brothers have a better chance at being adopted without me.”
Children are wondering.
“Will I ever find my forever family?”
“What’s wrong with me?”
“What’s going to happen to me when I turn 18?”
Children are losing hope.
“Time is running out for me.”
There are thousands of children across the nation like Carlos who are feeling the pressure of time. They are getting older. Experience has shown them that the older they get—their chances of being adopted decreases. For these kids, turning 18 is not a celebratory life event. For them, turning 18 means that they have “aged out” of foster care . . . without a family.
No child deserves to face the world alone. No child should be without the comfort and security of a family to call their own. These kids need families to move into action and take the next step to become adoptive parents. Honestly, they just don’t have time to wait for your biological kids to get a little older first. They need you now.
I am pleased to be a part of an organization like Bethany Christian Services that strives to “demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting and enhancing the lives of children and families through quality social services.” What better way to show Christ’s love than to care for the orphan?
“Religion that God accepts as pure and without fault is this: caring for orphans or widows who need help…” James 1:27 NCV
Bethany Christian Services’ No One Without (N.O.W.) campaign is a call to action on behalf of all of the youth across the nation that are lingering in foster care. These youth are featured on state adoption exchanges and often wait three years or more for an adoptive family. Bethany’s goal is to match waiting children with available families—across state lines.
I wish I could say a family stepped forward for Carlos.
Unfortunately, this precious boy aged out of foster care. Every year 26,000 children like Carlos are at risk of doing the same.
You can be the answer to a waiting child’s prayers.
If you’d like to know more about the N.O.W. campaign or would like to take the next step to become an adoptive family, please visit our website or contact us at 1.800.BETHANY.
Posted 4/29/13 at 3:59 PM | Bill Blacquiere
By Ted Kallman, cofounder of the Mayday Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting healing resources to hurting people and bringing visibility to the problem of human trafficking.
Like most kids in America, somewhere between fifth and sixth grade I learned how slavery used to be legal but thanks to the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution it was abolished. What they didn’t tell us is that slavery continues to ensnare individuals and ravage families around the world. Approximately 27 million people are trapped in modern-day slavery globally. Fifty percent of those slaves are children; seventy percent of the women who are slaves are trafficked into the commercial sex industry.
Last January in my quiet time before the Lord, I felt an increasing burden for not only these modern-day slaves, but for anyone who has been physically or sexually abused. As I sought God’s direction, the word “Mayday” came to mind. Mayday, as you may know, is the international cry for help. As I prayed, I saw millions of hurting souls crying, “Mayday! Mayday!” and in that moment the Holy Spirit spoke clearly to my heart. FULL POST
Posted 4/25/13 at 4:22 PM | Bill Blacquiere
Last fall, CTN’s Bridges invited me to an onset studio interview in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.
My interview with host Monica Schmelter was on the topic of child trafficking. Over 246 million children are exploited through child labor worldwide, many of them doing extremely dangerous jobs that can leave them with permanent physical damage or cost them their life. Often these kids leave their homes, hoping for a better life and good-paying job to help support their families. In Ghana, for example, many end up working in the fishing industry and other dangerous, hard labor jobs for long hours, with little food or sleep.
With child trafficking becoming today’s most prevalent issue in social justice, I invite you to watch my live interview with Monica.
Posted 4/23/13 at 5:43 PM | Bill Blacquiere
Our Bethany leadership is looking forward to attending the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit 9 next week. Summit inspires, equips, and connects churches and organizations for adoption, foster care, and global orphan ministry. In case you are unable to attend, take a minute to view the video we will be sharing at the event. Your prayers and encouragement are appreciated.
Posted 4/19/13 at 2:44 PM | Bill Blacquiere
If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know I do not typically use this forum as a soapbox. Instead, I use this blog as an opportunity to raise awareness to critical issues facing vulnerable children and families around the world. Today, however, I am driven to address a recent book that calls into question the commitment and practices of Bethany Christian Services and other reputable Christian organizations in protecting vulnerable children. Given the incorrect and very poorly utilized sources, wildly extrapolated viewpoints presented as broad brush fact, and misleading statements within the book, I am compelled to correct these false claims and accusations.
Since it was founded nearly 70 years ago, Bethany has been committed to helping vulnerable children and families: In 2012, the organization served more than 77,000 children across the globe. While Bethany is often identified as the largest adoption agency in the U.S., a great deal of the work we do worldwide is, in fact, to keep families together through family preservation services. In every country where Bethany works, we are strong advocates for keeping children with their biological families. We have committed significant resources to strengthen families through the delivery of social services in a variety of countries. Bethany believes in the importance of operating at the highest standard of integrity and best practice in every service area. This includes adoption. FULL POST