Doing Real Justice in Foster Care: Gospel Implications

As Christians, we have to do foster care differently. That is not because of the “system.” It is because of theology.

One of the central themes we are called to in the gospel is the ministry of reconciliation. In the gospel, God has given us the message that everything that is necessary to be done has been done in Christ to heal the rift between God and people. As part of our role as ambassadors in that ministry (2 Cor 5:20-21), we have the opportunity to show evidences of that reconciliation to the world and point to Christ and his gospel as their ultimate hope.

The foster care system in America is slanted toward reconciliation. Parents are given every chance to work out their issues and to get their children back and parent their children. Often, we react against the brokenness of the system. Parents are given chance after chance, and they never succeed. The children are bounced in and out of custody and from placement to placement, and they suffer horribly. 

Is the system the real problem?

It would seem that the end that the foster care system is aiming toward “reconciliation” is consistent with the gospel, but it does not work because it attempts to achieve it without the gospel. Counseling, job training, parenting classes, financial seminars, and drug and alcohol rehab do not address the root issue in most cases. Most often, the root issue is a heart issue, and unless the gospel comes to bear in the family, there is no real, enduring hope. 

Then, is the real problem with the church?

That is a provocative statement, but please don’t be inflamed. Be inspired. Be engaged. What would happen if the church really engaged foster care differently? If in addition to recruiting foster families to care for children, your church enlisted teams of people to support those families with prayer, meals, transportation, respite care, and other support. What if your church took on ministering on the other side of the foster care equation by mentoring the child’s family of origin? As you come alongside with support, you also bring the gospel in word and deed.

What if it doesn’t work? We tried and children have been loved and discipled in loving Christian homes. What if it does work? Families are put back together and a powerful object lesson for the healing power of the gospel is put on display.

At Lifeline Children’s Services, we are committed to this model of foster care. If you would like to learn more or if you would like to learn how Lifeline could help your church begin this redemptive model of foster care, please click here

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Rick Morton

Father to three transnationally adopted children, Rick Morton’s dedication to orphans extends beyond his family. Coauthor of Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care, Rick and his wife are cofounders of international orphan-hosting ministry Promise 139, based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. An inspiring speaker, Rick shares God’s heart for the fatherless at many conferences for pastors as well as orphan-care conferences. He and his family live in the Greater Memphis area.