Jason Paredes joined Herbie Newell for the October 2, 2019 episode of The Defender Podcast. Jason is the lead pastor at Fielder Church in Arlington, Texas. He and his wife, Virginia, have six children—five daughters and one son—both biological and adopted.
Jason explained that adoption has taught him more about the gospel than anything else. He was living a story of fierce pursuit and unconditional love in a way that tangibly portrayed the way God pursues His children and loves them. Furthermore, Jason admitted that the challenging and messy parts of adoption are means of teaching us the gospel in the midst of pain. After the Paredes’ second adoption, their daughter utterly rejected Jason and his love. The pain of the rejected pursuit and the rejection of his love was inexpressibly difficult for Jason. Although hurtful, this struggle showed a clear picture of God’s unconditional love for His people, even when they fail to embrace Him.
Because of the difficulties of adoption and fostering, Jason explained that families on these journeys must be able to speak with others who have been there or who are trained to understand:
- Our stories aren’t beautiful and perfect and lovely. They are scar-filled realities.
- We need people who have experienced or understand that type of challenges we face so that we can own our brokenness and let people address our sin and encourage us with truth and without judgment.
- We sometimes think we can’t talk about the hard or others won’t adopt, but they need to go in with eyes open that it will be difficult.
- When we share our pain and carry it with others, we are a picture of Christian community.
- Sometimes, families may have to seek out a community with which they can safely share. They are out there and are worth finding. Seek out an honest place to dialogue about hurts and pain or you won’t survive or will have a lot of scar tissue otherwise.
If you are searching for a family to connect with who has journeyed a similar path, please contact Lifeline, and we will assist you in finding a listening and understanding ear.
Jason’s personal experience with adoption was a catalyst to a deeper understanding of the gospel and also served to permanently open his eyes to the needs of vulnerable children. As Jason was wrestling with the decision to adopt his son, God revealed that He was calling the Paredes family to adoption so that their story could help lead the church to an intentional ministry to seek out the vulnerable and give families to children who needed them. Through the leading of the Holy Spirit in prayer, personal experiences, and the study of scripture, Fielder Church has stepped out in a big way
Fielder Church set a goal to have 1,000 children adopted or parented through foster care through their congregation over a 10-year time period. Since setting this goal, Jason has been floored by how the church body has jumped on board. They’ve seen growth not only in the number of children coming into families but also in ministries that are being formed around families who are on these journeys.
When asked why he was convicted that caring for the vulnerable is the duty of the local church, Jason discussed the following answers:
- The church is known of screaming about what the world is doing wrong. But we need to become part of the solution to minister to women and children.
- When the world sees that the church wants to love the vulnerable, it’s a powerful word to those who live around us.
- The church has the capacity to stand in the gap in large numbers, as no one else is. If the church is going to have community impact, we would leave an obvious hole if we didn’t engage in this arena.
- It will be messy and costly, but it will be worth it.
Fielder Church has an obvious heart for the vulnerable and are serious about God’s call to engage. Not all church leaders share this same vision. Herbie invited Jason to share what he would counsel someone who is desperate for their church to share the same vision for caring for the vulnerable. Jason outlined the following steps:
- Pray and fast repeatedly, with desperation, for God to move hearts.
- Get involved. You don’t need a foster care or adoption ministry in your church to adopt or foster. Partner with ministries or other churches but stay in your church to be an example.
- Live your story out loud. Don’t be hidden. Be vulnerable and share the story of adoption or fostering and get your church involved. For example, invite your staff to your home to see how precious your children are.
- Dig in to a local congregation. They need you to have a passion for this so that you can spread the message.
Listen to the full podcast with Jason to hear more about Jason’s adoption story, his spiritual background and his calling to Christ and ministry.