Have you ever considered how you can stand up for children in foster care? Each year, Stand Sunday is a reminder of the need for foster and adoptive families throughout the United States. It is also an opportunity for individuals and churches to learn how to make a difference for 400,000+ children in foster care. This year, will you stand?
The History of Stand Sunday
Bishop Aaron Blake is a pastor and a foster/adoptive father. Nearly 20 years ago, he stood up to preach to his congregation on a November morning. The sermon that emerged from his mouth was not one he had originally planned. Suddenly, Bishop Blake was speaking about the dire need for loving families for children in foster care. He looked at his congregation and asked a simple question: “Who will stand with me to defend, care, and support abused, abandoned, and neglected children in our community?”
Bishop Blake’s question was rhetorical. He did not expect a verbal response, but one came from the back of the church. A woman stood up with her hand raised and proclaimed, “Pastor, I will.” This created a ripple effect. One after another, people joined the woman in standing for vulnerable children. Each person that stood looked at Bishop Blake and said, “I will.”
The congregation of Greater Faith Community Church did more than stand and talk. They put action behind their words. Within three months, families within the church congregation had fostered 39 children.
But they did not stop there. Bishop Blake wondered what it would be like for there to be more foster families waiting for children than children waiting for foster families. So the church and surrounding community continued to advocate for children in foster care and raise awareness of the need for more foster families. In 2010, they reached their goal of having more licensed foster homes than children waiting for foster homes. To this day, they continue to meet the need.
How You Can Get Involved
Christians have a clear command to care for children, and there are many ways to get involved—praying, giving, mobilizing your church, fostering, or adopting. Stand Sunday is an opportunity to take this calling seriously. If God is calling you to foster or adopt, do not delay. Children are waiting for someone like you. Opening your heart and your home to these children can change the trajectory of their lives. If you do not feel called to foster or adopt, find ways to support foster and adoptive families.
Stand Sunday typically takes place on the first or second Sunday in November. This Stand Sunday, consider ways you can take a stand for children in foster care:
- Send an encouraging text to a foster parent. For example, “You’re doing a great job, foster mom/dad!”
- Download free Conversation Cards to prompt important dialogue about foster care, adoption, and support
- Donate to a local foster care ministry or organization, such as Focus on the Family’s Wait No More program.
- Drop off dinner at a foster family’s home. Call or text ahead and ask what day works best for them.
- Follow new accounts on social media that shine a light on foster care and adoption, such as Wait No More’s Instagram.
As a church body, Christians can leverage their efforts to support foster and adoptive families. Learn how to start a foster and adoptive family ministry at your church if there is not already one. Creating a community for foster and adoptive families can be an enormous blessing. And do not be afraid to ask the families what they need. If you are a pastor or church leader looking for ways to get involved, learn how to become a welcoming, foster- and adoptive-friendly church.
Finally, prayerfully consider where you fit into foster care and adoption. Everyone can make a difference, whether through fostering, adopting, or supporting foster/adoptive families. If you are not called to foster or adopt right now, you can support families and children in other ways, such as helping with laundry or becoming a court appointed special advocate (CASA).
Stand Sunday Began with a “Yes”
On the first Stand Sunday, Bishop Blake did not preach about foster care arbitrarily. Rather, he and his wife, Mary, had a personal connection to foster care. In fact, their foster journey began 18 months after becoming empty-nesters.
While working as a high school counselor in 2000, Bishop Blake met a student named Melvin. The boy had lost class credits multiple times throughout high school because he had moved between foster homes. Bishop Blake helped fix Melvin’s credits, and the two created a special bond. Not long after, when Melvin was about to move foster homes again, he asked Bishop Blake for help. Bishop Blake responded, “If I could, I would take you home with me.”
What Bishop Blake had said hypothetically, Melvin took at face value. Not long after, Bishop Blake received a call from Melvin’s social worker asking if he had really offered to be a foster family. After discussing with his wife, Bishop Blake told the social worker, “Yes.”
The Blakes welcomed Melvin into their home. A little while later, Melvin heard of a teammate who was in foster care and needed a new foster home. Melvin asked the Blakes if they would help the boy, and they said “yes.” Shortly after, another boy on the team needed a home. The Blakes said “yes” again. It was “yes” after “yes” until the once-empty-nesters suddenly had six teenage boys living in their home.
Bishop Blake often speaks about what it means to be “engrafted” into a family. He taught his sons that for the rest of their lives, they would be engrafted into the Blake family. Bishop Blake’s experience with foster care prompted him to get his church involved. And that message continues to impact people around the nation.
What is Your “Yes”?
This Stand Sunday, say “yes” to something. Maybe you need to say “yes” to just having a conversation about your fit in foster care. Or perhaps you need to step out in faith and say “yes” to a big calling God has placed on your life, whether fostering, adopting, or another role. If nothing else, say “yes” to praying for children in foster care.