Vertical Life Church: How a Family Fostering Siblings Lead to a Foster Care Ministry

Vertical Life Church in Dallas, Georgia, will be launching a partnership with FaithBridge and their church’s foster care ministry on Sunday, April 17, 2016.

The journey to start this ministry at this church started decades ago with two strangers who would eventually meet, discover they share a similar family history and decide to explore foster care themselves.

Andy and Misty Woodard had both been adopted as infants, so they were familiar with the idea of a non-biological family raising children as their own. So when they met and married, welcoming children who were not biologically their own into their home was exactly what they wanted to do.

Their journey eventually brought them to FaithBridge to become approved foster parents. And as they went through the process and started fostering sibling sets, it was not unnoticed by the others at their church.

Print“As that one family started, a lot of other families started asking questions about how they could get involved,” said Brad Parkhurst, lead pastor at Vertical Life Church. “It was a grassroots thing. There was enough interest that we could go ahead and tackle it as a church.”

The “it” that the church is tackling is the foster care problem in their area. There are over 100 children in foster care* and not enough foster families, yet there are about 50 churches with 20,000 people.

After learning the numbers and understanding the need for more families right in their own county, the church is excited to recruit more foster parents and have a ministry that supports them with respite care and volunteers.

“We will play our part,” Brad said. “We know we can’t solve [the problem] completely on our own, but we can play our part in it. That’s our hope. Our hope is that we can help make a dent in the problem and be a part of the solution in some way.”

At first, the Woodards weren’t charging the way with foster care and sibling sets. Their journey had its steps and detours to get to where they are today. They began by looking into adoption and that’s when they heard about FaithBridge and foster care. From there, they went from thinking that they’d foster a single child to being open to fostering up to three children at a time. Today, their home includes three biological children, including one adult biological daughter who volunteers as a part of their Community of Care®, and three foster children.

They’ve also experienced the heartache of loving and letting go when children they’ve fostered have returned to their biological family, encouraging them to lean into their faith.

“That was not easy, but the whole time, we kept saying that God has a plan,” Misty said. “I can’t imagine going through it without knowing that.”

The Woodards and Brad both see the launch of their FaithBridge foster care ministry as a response to the biblical call to care for orphans. The church is looking forward to inviting others into the journey of foster care and seeing God’s love and Kingdom grow through them.

If you live in the Dallas, Georgia, area and want to know more about foster care ministry, you’re invited to attend Encounter, FaithBridge’s information session, on Sunday, April 17, 2016, at Vertical Life Church. Click here for more information and to register!


* Averages calculated from September 2014-September 2015, as reported by on September 15, 2015.