Our vision at One More One Less Project is to Inform, Inspire and Intertwine the local church with foster care. But, what does that mean exactly?
As we continue doing this ministry we still get asked every now and then what we do exactly. I wanted to lay it out in written form for those who may not fully understand our vision and what God has laid on our hearts. We hope you find this helpful and desire that as you read, you would not only pray for us, as God directs us to accomplish this mission, but also that you would feel free to ask any questions you may have about our ministry.
First, we exist to "Inform the local church about foster care". We believe, at One More One Less Project, that the church has a big responsibility of caring for the orphans of the world. All followers of Jesus have this responsibility. James 1:27 is clear when it says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
Our team works to inform local churches about the "foster care" needs, not only in their county, but also the needs that are within their state. We gather "up to date" data and information and inform the local church of the facts, while we also inform them about the needs within the foster care system. Our hope is that the problem, of children not having homes to be placed in, can be solved. Currently there are around 11,000 children in foster care in NC and only around 6,000 foster parents. Informing people of the needs within their community and state is an extremely vital part of our ministry. We find too many people are simply not informed of the problem, therefore, they can't be a part of the solution.
Second, we exist to "Inspire the local church concerning foster care". "Foster care" and "Inspire" are not necessarily words that you would think go hand in hand. However, they definitely can and have in our own lives. We desire to not only inspire others by sharing what God has done in our lives, but also inspire by sharing other people's stories as well. These stories range from foster parents, to foster children, to birth parents, to people who are simply impacted by foster care in some way.
We don't share stories so others can make an emotional decision to get involved in foster care. But, we do believe God created emotions and can use our emotions to steer us in the direction He wants us to go. Our heart is to simply Inspire others by sharing stories of how God has grown us and "brought beauty" through this process. More than that, we desire for people to be as close to the Lord as possible. We believe, in our personal experience, we have never felt closer to the Lord than when we are walking in obedience to His Word (James 1:27).
Thirdly, we exist to "Intertwine the local church with foster care". Intertwine literally means to twine together, to interweave, to mesh or twist together. We desire for the local church to work together with foster parents, foster children, birth families, adoptive families, social workers, Guardian Ad Litem workers, attorneys and even other local churches. We want the local church to be so intertwined with foster care that when a need arises with a social worker, a foster child, or a foster parent, the church works together and meets that need immediately. We want the church to be so intertwined with foster care, that there isn't a second thought about involvement when they are informed a child is in need of a home. They work together to find a family for that child. Period. We want the church to be so intertwined with foster care that they know, even if they are not foster parent's themselves, how difficult fostering can be. How difficult it can be to have children come into their home who have dealt with trauma, or how difficult it can be to say goodbye to these same children when they are leaving their home. Through this we pray no foster families are left feeling "a lack of support" but rather knowing they are "fully supported" by the body of Christ. We feel that every single individual in the local church has a special part in this, whether 8 years old or 80 years old.
Our goal is to have two Champion Churches in each county in North Carolina. That is a big goal but we serve a BIG God who is the one who put this goal in our hearts!
How do we make this goal attainable?
First and foremost, through prayer. We believe prayer is one of the most important things we do in our ministry! Without God, nothing is possible but with God, ALL things are possible (Phil. 4:13).
Therefore, we strive to communicate with God as an organization at every single staff meeting. We also have a staff who not only loves the Lord but also finds value in prayer and we each work, as individuals, to have a strong personal prayer life. We also have a prayer director on staff who's job is to PRAY! She not only prays in her own time, but she also prays with a group of other people who love the Lord and want to lift up foster children in North Carolina. She works to train other prayer leaders, at various churches in North Carolina, how to start prayer ministries within their own churches. In saying all of that, prayer is definitely one of the ways we see our goal being successful! It says in 1 John 5:14, that "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."
Another way we work towards our goal is "word of mouth". We desire for people, like yourselves to simply share what we are doing! We desire for people to talk about our vision and share it with their church body and pastoral leadership! We have already seen the Lord work through word of mouth to get us in contact with many churches in North Carolina. We are so grateful for the way you guys help us in simply sharing our vision with others!
The One More One Less Project staff also travels and learns from other organizations in the United States that are currently doing good things in the foster care world. We desire to be learners and people who value wisdom and advice.
It is our hope that the vision God has given us will not only bring about amazing change to our state but also to the lives of individuals.
Once we have a church interested in our vision and mission, we encourage a meeting with the main leaders of the church! We usually recommend this meeting be with lead pastors/staff who are able to make decisions for the church body! We have seen that we need the lead pastors to be on board and all on the same page for us to move forward with the vision God has given us efficiently. Once everyone is on the same page, we encourage a Sunday morning presence from one of our One More One Less Staff Leaders so we can share our heart and vision with the church body! Don't check out! We know and understand the value in your Sunday mornings and respect that! In having this Sunday morning presence we have seen countless volunteers come forward and sign up for the 4 lead areas of ministry we have and can affectively plug them in and start training them in these roles as well as plug other volunteers into the ministry of their choice!
The 4 lead roles as a Champion Church would be:
1.One More One Less Project Leader
2.Foster Parent/Guardian Ad Litem Leader
4.Community Care Leader
These 4 leaders are basically 4 ministries within your church that are vital to creating a culture of foster care within your church body!
Our staff would then train those 4 leaders who would then take that training to the people, the volunteers that have signed up! "Training" is a scary word because it means "work", "time" and "effort"! But it takes work, time and effort to keep children out of foster care and to keep children from sleeping in DSS offices due to a lack of families to take them in. So, I encourage you to look at the bigger picture and understand that we "need" the church for this vision to be accomplished!
YOUR church is an important piece to this puzzle and we believe YOUR church can be part of a HUGE movement in North Carolina! We need churches who already have a heart for foster care and adoption just as much as we need churches who are not currently doing any work at all with foster care and adoption. We simply need willing churches who want to see change in their community and change in their state when it comes to children who simply don't have homes. We need churches who are willing to step outside of their comfort zone for these kids! We need people who are willing to take risks for these kids and show them they are NOT alone.
This doesn't mean that every person in your congregation will be foster parents! However, this does mean that if you have 5 foster parents this year, our hope is that next year you will have 10 or 20! And that is what we train your leaders to do! We also know that while everyone will not be able to foster, we know we are all called to do something! So, part of our training is helping people and informing people "what" they can be doing! If they can't foster, that is ok but there are a hundred other things they can do do to support this vision.
As you pray over this organization and ministry, also pray for churches, and children, and birth parents and social workers! Let's stop moving away from the hard and messy and move towards it! That is the only way we will see change in our communities! Move toward the mess with us?