A Dallas-area megachurch recently hosted a conference with the goal of enabling Christians and their congregations to help address the foster care crisis in the US. The “Chosen” conference, held at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, aimed to “empower, engage, and equip” attendees to establish foster care ministries at their churches and to serve as foster parents effectively. The conference welcomed about 2,000 attendees, including several hundred who streamed online.

Rev. Jeremiah Johnston, pastor of apologetics at Prestonwood Baptist Church and founder of the Christian Thinkers Society, said, “We feel that we need to marshal as many resources as humanly possible to bring awareness to foster care. The biggest and most important of those things is to raise awareness that the most unreached people group in the world right now are children, and specifically what society calls unwanted children.” Johnston, however, rejects that way of thinking.

He said, “We believe that every child is indeed a ‘wanted child.’” “Chosen,” whose name was inspired by Deuteronomy 7:6 — “The Lord has chosen you out of all the people on the face of the earth to be his treasured possession” — is also the name of Prestonwood Baptist’s foster care and adoption ministry. “It can be heart-wrenching. The rug can be pulled out from under you,” he said. Foster parents, he said, “need to be encouraged. They need to be resourced. They need to be celebrated.” If churches in the United States were able to mobilize on this topic effectively, Johnston said he believes they could solve the foster care crisis in the United States.

He said, “There are 400,000 children right now in foster care in the United States.” Of those, “100,000 of those right now are available for adoption and just need a family. [Some] 20,000 age out annually.” “This is a stark problem, especially one that is so easily addressed,” he said, noting there are more than 350,000 religious congregations in the United States. At Chosen, Johnston said many of the hurdles associated with establishing an adoption or foster care ministry were taken care of. Pastors who attended the Chosen conference “essentially leave with a ‘ministry in a box,’ as it were,” he said.

They have “all the tools they need to go home and start an adoption/foster care ministry outreach through their local church.” Johnston said he believes that right now, there is “simply a lack of awareness” about fostering and adoption in many church communities rather than ambivalence or indifference. “I think that so many pastors are just doing their own thing,” he said. “And so we want to help build awareness.”

He continued, “No one church has to feel like they have to do everything. But every church can do something.” He also said that talking about the problem is less effective than “focusing on solutions.” Additionally, Johnston is hoping to “push back on this narrative” that Christians only care about babies until they are born. “That is simply false,” he said. “We want to lead the way and be a pacesetter.” He said he hopes “for a vanguard of a new movement in the church through the rest of this.” The church, he said, referring to Christianity in general, is “the greatest force for good on planet Earth.”

He added, “We believe the church should be the solution no matter what. And we’re willing to stand on that, and come what may, we’re going to take care of children and not apologize about it.”

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad