'One Less Orphan': Church acts on biblical command
ARNOLD, Mo. (BP) -- Adopting and fostering children is a journey. First Baptist Church in Arnold, Mo., has a ministry, "One Less Orphan," to make that journey easier by providing support for parents and children.
Some of the reactions to their adoption surprised the couple.
"A few people didn't seem to understand the 'why' of our decision," Lisa said, noting, "We feel called to adoption," with Tim periodically teaching an "orphanology" class on what the Bible teaches about caring for orphans.
"Adoption is a wonderful mirror of what Christ did for us. Some are called to be missionaries or to teach but we are called to this ministry," Lisa said.
Mark Stockton, First Baptist's pastor of married adults, discipleship and counseling, agreed that understanding the biblical background is important.
"The class really helps the congregation understand why it is important to support this ministry. God gives us the biblical mandate in James 1:27 to support and care for the widow and the orphans," Stockton noted.
The first step of support in One Less Orphan is to get a prayer partner for an adopting couple. "We want to walk alongside them on this journey," Lisa said. "We want to text and email support them too. We also have monthly meetings for those going through the fostering and adoption process.
"The process is difficult, and it is one of the toughest things I've been through," she said. "That's why we started the ministry. It is a difficult path because of the paperwork, the waiting and all of the ups and downs."
Though it began with an emphasis on adoption, daunting local statistics prompted One Less Orphan to extend its ministry to foster care.
"We discovered that more than 350 children needed foster care in the Jefferson County area, but at the time there was only about 60 foster families," Lisa said. "Many of the children had to go to other areas. So, we partnered with Missouri Baptist Children's Home to come to the church to teach classes to our people with a goal of increasing the number of licensed foster families." The church recently held the second series of classes.
One Less Orphan also sponsors a Foster Closet. "The church has caught fire in supporting this ministry," Stockton said. "Many of the folks who are not able to adopt or foster still want to help. They have donated many of the new or gently used items to support those who are fostering children."
Stockton said the main goal of One Less Orphan is to share the love of Jesus. "We want to do everything in an excellent way because this is what we give to Christ," he said. In a desire for people to come to know the Lord, One Less Orphan "gives us the opportunity to invite them to church or to share in homes."
Love is being expressed to the children and those caring for them in additional ways, such as gift cards and meals for the families.
Stockton underscored the spiritual growth for First Baptist in understanding God's direction through One Less Orphan. "The Lord is moving in this ministry," he said. "All we need to do is hold on with our fingertips and follow Him in obedience."