They saw a need, a Biblical mandate, and seized the opportunity. For Tri-Cities Church in East Point, starting a foster care ministry was just a natural outcome of their obedience to God’s calling.
“Although there are many ways to care for children, I believe God specifically gave me a burden for foster care as a ministry for my family and as a ministry for our church,” said Wesley Bolden, Tri-Cities’ pastor. “Several other families in our church were interested in foster care, which also confirmed our decision to begin a ministry.
“We also knew there was another need – a need for Christ-centered foster care training on the southside of Atlanta, more FaithBridge partners.”
And so Tri-Cities stepped out in faith and started their foster care ministry in 2016. A year later, they have three licensed foster families and ten volunteers. Wesley and his family are one of those foster families.
“When my wife and I were in the process of becoming foster parents, we openly shared our story and invited the church into our experience,” he said. “That helped us engage the church in our calling. I have also preached sermon series emphasizing the biblical mandate to care for children and often share [foster care] stats with friends and colleagues.”
Tri-Cities also offers training and encourages people to learn more and consider whether God is calling them to be a foster family.
“Our church has developed a greater sense of awareness, and they have a better understanding now of the nature of foster care ministry,” Wesley said. “However, we have many people willing to volunteer and help foster families but not many willing to take the leap to become foster families. People seem to be reluctant to make themselves emotionally vulnerable.
“To that I say – don’t use [the emotional pain of children leaving] as an excuse but challenge yourselves to do this, because in our pain, and even through our pain, there’s a child whose life is totally transformed.”
For other churches thinking about starting a foster care ministry or in the process of starting, Wesley said communication is key.
“You cannot over communicate the Biblical mandate to care for children. Your congregation needs to know that this is not only a good thing, it is a Godly thing,” he said.
“Initially, we struggled to develop our team, but FaithBridge’s Chuck Campbell was very helpful in walking with us and helping us organize and train our team. I would encourage church leaders to identify key leaders early in the process.
“Now we see how our church has done, and is currently doing, a good job of encouraging and supporting foster families. They have legitimized fostering as a form of parenting and have offered the same support they would offer a new parent.”
FaithBridge has walked with Wesley and his church throughout the process – providing support and help as needed.
“Faithbridge has helped us develop and mobilize the Community of Care model at our church and helped communicate the need for Godly communities who intentionally care for children. Also, Faithbridge has provided training and coaching for our ministry team,” Wesley said
“God’s heart is for the least of these and those who are often without an advocate. Foster care creates an opportunity for us to tangibly be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who are often forgotten.”