Change Who Waits

By Brian Mavis, President, America’s Kids Belong

When I was working at LifeBridge Christian Church, and I got a phone call from a recruiter in child welfare who said, “I’d like to meet with you about child welfare in Boulder County.  Can we meet?”

I said sure, and a few days later Cindy met me at the church. The first thing she said to me was, “Thank you for meeting with me.  I’ve been trying, off and on, to meet with a church for three years, and you’re the first church to say yes.”

I apologized for her experience with the church so far, but I understood most pastors would have thought, “What does the church have to do with foster care?”  (Fortunately, I was working for a church that focused on being the best church for the community and never once asked, “how does this help us?”)

Cindy shared she had been a nun for 20 years, then she met a priest, and they became Episcopalian and got married. I thought, “I like this feisty nun!” She went on to explain that in the 26-year history of child welfare in our county, there had never been a day where kids weren’t waiting for grownups to take care of them – where kids were not waiting to be placed into a safe family. Then Cindy said, “I have a challenge for you and your church. I want your church to help me change who waits. I want there to be so many grownups who care about these kids, that it’s the grownups who are on the waiting list, not the kids. Will you help me change who waits?”

So, I had a nun asking me to help orphans. I knew if I said no, I was going to hell – or at least purgatory, and talk about waiting. ;-] Actually, I sensed it was really a challenge from God. I said, “Yes, we will accept your challenge.”

A year later, we got a letter from our county thanking us for our recruitment efforts, and it said that for the first time they had more families than kids. Our church and other churches stepped up in big ways and changed who waits.