How the Church can Care for Vulnerable Children & Families

On the August 21st edition of The Defender Podcast, Krista Stotler joined Herbie Newell to share how her church has cultivated a heart to care for vulnerable children through adoption and foster care.

Krista is the Director of Foster Care and Adoption at Fielder Church in Arlington, Texas. Along with her husband of 24 years, Krista is the parent of seven children, 2 biological and 5 adopted from foster care. Krista and her husband first became involved in foster care by doing respite care, which generally occurs when a trained foster family provides temporary care for another foster family’s child(ren) in care. Her family’s heart for adoption and foster care extended into the church family.

In 2016, Fielder Church set a goal of reaching 1000 children through foster care and adoption by 2026. The church body began to put practices into place and to be intentional to follow the command of James 1:27 to care for widows and orphans. Herbie invited Krista to answer some questions about this ministry:

What are some examples of how Fielder Church provides practical ways for members to get involved?

  • Organize a weekly support group for adoptive and foster parents. By meeting often and regularly, when families are in crisis, they don’t have to wait weeks to receive support.
  • Their Seniors class puts together first-night bags for children in care to receive when they are taken to a new foster home.
  • Members take meals to families.
  • The church has set up a scholarship fund for adopting families.
  • We work with Child Protective Services to minister to biological families.
  • It’s all about serving and being willing to serve whenever an opportunity arises.

How does the faith family and staff at Fielder support adoptive and foster families through their ministries?

  • Support begins at the top, with pastors and staff, who support each other without judgment. They will stop in the middle of a meeting or hallway to pray with each other.
  • We train age-group ministry leaders on how to address children from trauma backgrounds in their group. We teach them about what trauma can look like and how it can manifest in behavior and situations.
  • Fielder staff also trains volunteers with the same information so that everyone is of the same understanding for how to minister to our children and families.
  • We discuss how we can include children with needs stemming from trauma in camps and mission trip. Sometimes we include a trained Crisis Intervention person and a nurse.
  • Every ministry from preschool to facilities wants to know how they can best serve families.

How can a wife who feels called to adoption or foster care engage her husband, who may be opposed to it?

  • Invite your husband to pray about what you have felt on your heart.
  • Pray for him and you, that the Holy Spirit will work in both of you to reveal God’s will.
  • Focus on building and strengthening your marriage so that it is stable.
  • Agree that there cannot be a “no” from either one of you. Both spouses need to be on the same page with a “yes,” to move forward.
  • Encourage your husband to talk with other adoptive dads about how this step will affect your family, what details they need to know, and what it looks like in real life.

The common theme running through Krista’s interview was one of a willingness to serve. God’s mandate in Scripture to care for orphans indicates that believers should ask if God is leading them to adoption or foster care. If He is not, they can then ask how they can help in the ministry of foster care and adoption in other ways. Not everyone will be called to bring a child into his/her home, but everyone can get involved in some way. How can you get involved?

You can find resources such as Equipped to Love and Fostering Hope for your church on Lifeline’s website.