Courtesy of Daniel Bramlett
I grew up in a very stable, loving home. We weren’t perfect. In fact, my parents were divorced. But I was greatly loved. It had nothing to do with my lovability either! I have fantastic parents that walked by me for 18 years and walk by me still. Many of you reading this article come from a similar background. You cannot imagine a scenario growing up when your parents were just consistently absent; by choice they were not at most anything you did or were a part of. Unfortunately, that is a reality for many children in Hempstead County. And I am not talking about a small number of kids.
I don’t want to single kids out locally, so I will share some statewide numbers. Each year Arkansas cares for around 8200 children in foster care. That’s eight thousand two hundred kiddos removed from their homes, placed in a strange environment, around all new people…all because momma and daddy couldn’t keep it between the lines.
Fault has to lie somewhere. I do not want to demonize parents whose children are removed. I’ve had friends whose children were removed. But, mistakes bring consequences, especially when drugs are involved. That said, the purpose of this article is not to talk about parents. I want to paint a vivid picture of broken kids who need care.
Our first foster child came to us straight from court. She was 5 months old and precious! Her parents were very young and not able to make a consistent string of good decisions. After 6 months she was adopted. Our next child was 9 months old and did not know how to make eye contact. She had been neglected for so long she would dirty her diaper and go back to sleep without a whimper. Another child threw MASSIVE temper tantrums…and she was only one year old! That’s just part of the story, though. The rest of the story is after a few months these children were as ‘normal’ as any other child around. You would never know they had a dark past. A parent’s love changed everything about them.
8200 kids, 5900 Churches in Arkansas and only 1600 trained, available foster homes. Why? People offer all kinds of excuses. My favorite is “I would get too attached.” I’m sorry, but that’s the ONE THING these kids need. If we can change a child’s life by ‘attaching’ for a few months, is it worth it? I’ll let you answer that one. There are lots of other legitimate questions out there and fortunately there is an organization right here in Hempstead County that is ready to answer them! Enter The CALL.
The CALL is mobilizing the church in Arkansas to love foster children at all levels with the extravagant love of Christ. The vision of The CALL is simple: More than enough homes. This fantastic group works with our local DHS office to recruit and provide training for new foster parents. Just this last weekend they trained six new couples! That’s six new homes, saturated with the love of Christ and ready for broken, hurting kids to enter in. Six new places of refuge. Six new bedrooms with bedtime stories. Six new tables set with grace and plenty of food. Six new sets of arms to hug and mouths to speak truth and hope. Six new opportunities to impact eternity.
I am not asking if this hits a nerve. I am not asking you to cry or give or write a letter or feed a hungry child. No one in this scenario needs sympathy right now. Everyone needs compassion. Compassion is not a greeting card with a nice note. Compassion gets down and dirty with the hurting and broken hearted. I am asking you to enter in.
The next CALL info meeting is June 11. You can contact this number for more info—501.607.8035—, check this paper for announcements or check out their Facebook page: “The CALL in Hempstead County.” This is not a time to sign on the dotted line. These meetings are just for the curious asking “What would it look like for me to create a place to care for a broken hearted child?” The Holy Spirit can take it from there.
In the last two weeks children have been removed from homes right here around us. All of our foster homes were full and each of these children had to be placed outside of our county. This should not have to happen. Will you be a part of The CALL?