While Care Communities most often provide a template for churches to surround and care for their members who have called to fostering and adoption, the love and support offered by a Care Community is also a beautiful testimony to those not connected to our churches.
Teila has discovered the power of this testimony. Teila and her family have fostered for many years now, and her church, Christian Fellowship Church, provided them with a Care Community to surround them. In a variety of conversations with Kristin, her foster care specialist at DCS, Teila shared the ways their Care Community has supported them, telling about the meals brought and the many prayers and extra help in times of particular need. She never realized how closely Kristin was listening until about two years ago when Kristin reached out to ask if Teila’s church would ever consider providing a Care Community to someone outside of their church.
The answer was yes.
Lisa Martin and her family had two adoptive children and had already been certified in the foster system in Florida. When they moved to Indiana, they heard of the huge need for foster families and pursued their certification here. Their first placement was an infant, and when their foster care specialist realized they didn’t have the supplies on hand for a new baby, she knew they would need more support than what their own families could provide.
As soon as Teila heard of the Martin family, she asked for a list of needs for the new placement and put out the call to her church. The next day, all the things on the list were dropped off on her porch. When she delivered the supplies, she talked with Lisa and got her permission to connect her with the Care Community coordinator at Christian Fellowship. Though the Martins knew no one at the church, they were offered a Care Community soon after, and many people volunteered to be a part of it.
“None of us knew each other,” says Bernita, the leader of the Martins’ Care Community. “We had a get-together to introduce ourselves, and then we all drove over to Lisa’s. None of us knew her, either.”
In spite of this, the new Care Community bonded quickly. Shortly after the initial gathering, one of the members hosted a bonfire where everyone could spend more time together. From there, they launched the meal train and weekly updates. Then, about two months after the Care Community started, the Martins decided to join Christian Fellowship Church. On their first Sunday, the Care Community met them outside the front doors, and they all walked in together and sat together during the service.
Bernita remembers how in the original training, they said being a Care Community leader would be an investment of approximately one hour a week. For her, this has been a relationship that has gone well beyond that. The time visiting and sending out weekly updates is only a part of it. “This is a relationship,” she says. “You invest your heart.”
Though they started as strangers, the Martins and their Care Community are now family friends. Lisa’s children know and love the other members. When people drop off meals, the youngest will often ask if they can stay and eat, and when the family had a recent hospital stay, the community contacted Lisa’s oldest daughter to arrange to increase the meals and provide backup help.
Since that first call with Teila about providing support for the Martins, DCS has reached out several more times asking if Christian Fellowship would come around new foster families that need extra help but are not a part of a church that offers Care Communities. Most recently she was asked what they could offer a family in which the older sibling is taking custody of the younger siblings “We want to say yes and partner with them,” Teila says.
Not only do Care Communities provide a specific supportive network around foster and adoptive families, they also serve to draw people into a wider community. As Bernita says, they become a heart connection. As the body of Christ commits to journey alongside families in need, it becomes a true image of the presence of God, a beautiful picture of his work on earth.
To learn more about launching Care Communities at your church, click here.