A year ago, the world came to a standstill. What stopped for you? Although universally impacted, the actual effects of the Covid 19 shutdown varied wildly from loss of life to loss of toilet paper. For many, the most challenging issue was isolation from friends and family. We either longed for those sweet reunions, or we got creative to make them happen. Even in this trial, there is much we can learn. As we begin to see an end to the COVID season, the church has an exciting opportunity! Let’s strategically think through how we can love our neighbor in this God-given season. Maybe this is a good time to consider getting involved with Safe Families for Children.
My study in Philippians took a detour this week into Deuteronomy to examine the inner spiritual workings intended in circumcision.
“Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear.” (Deut. 10:16-20)
This year saw a cutting away of many stubborn things, and, by God’s grace, we can look to him as the one who is never changing, whose love never stops. These verses bring into clear focus who He is, what He is doing, and what He has called us to do. Stop. Reread them. Consider what he has stripped away this year so that you may serve him and hold fast to him. What does loving the sojourner look like? It looks like radical hospitality. It looks like a love that never stops.
Participating in Safe Families for Children gives ample opportunity to express and work out these truths. I will admit, it may be disruptive; it isn’t always pretty or convenient. But, when we hold fast to him, we can be the vessel of love to someone isolated and without a network of support, someone in crisis, longing for a safe place for their children. They are the sojourners we once were and whom we are called to love.
Serving in Safe Families For Children not only provides the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ, but also the whole body of Christ; for, it is in all people using their giftings that we come alongside one another AND alongside the families we serve. Although Safe Families has been around nationally for over 15 years, we are still growing locally and within our church.
There are two avenues of growth we need to move in simultaneously. Look and see which one you lean into. The first is to grow our “Circles of Support.” These are the active roles that come alongside the family in crisis and include a host family, family coach, family friends, and resource friends. Two key roles that are desperately needed are hosts and coaches:
Hosts & Coaches, Community Engagement
If you are looking for a gratifying and challenging experience, consider becoming a Safe Families Host Family and Respite Host Family. You will make a lasting impression on a child in need and possibly change a family’s trajectory in crisis. Host Families serve as the backbone of the Safe Families movement. Without families opening their homes and opening their hearts, we could not care for vulnerable children in our communities. Host Families are screened and approved by SFFC to host children for short periods of time (average length is six weeks but ranges from 2 days to 6 months), and respite hosts usually host children for a night or a weekend to give a host family a break or rest for a placing parent. More info here.
Help Families Thrive! You can play a vital role in Safe Families for Children by volunteering as a Family Coach to help parents in crisis meet their goals and get back on their feet by providing referrals, problem-solving, and extending hope and grace. Family Coaches also offer support to the host family and family friends by offering resources, tangible support, and monitoring safety and expectations. More info here.
The second avenue is to grow our “Circles of Engagement.” Engagement in our church and community is ongoing, either when not serving on an active Circle of Support or as a primary means of volunteering. Church Engagement starts with practicing the one-anothers of scripture - including reaching beyond one's natural connections to those with ongoing needs within our church. It includes using gifting and skills in graphic design and communication to keep the church and team up-to-date on needs, prayers, praises, and events in Safe Families or by helping plan and organize for Safe Families @ CFC meetings and events.
Community Engagement involves engaging our community agencies, ministries, first responders, and schools to bring awareness of who Safe Families is and how we serve the community with them. We will do this by first mapping out our local community; then, providing informational materials to them; and finally, maintaining a channel for ongoing communication. We will add this information to the broader Raleigh SFFC chapter’s efforts as other churches seek to make community connections in their regions also. This avenue utilizes different giftings and interests such as IT, collaborating with a team to dig deep to understand the community’s needs, research, and one-on-one engagement with agency or community leaders. Why are we doing this? The goal for community engagement is to bring those connections of need closer to home, where a more natural network and connection to our church can happen.
We are looking to grow leaders and participants to accomplish this mission. The need is great; as COVID restrictions are eased and aid and assistance come to an end, local agencies anticipate increased needs as families on the margins face new crises, including evictions and homelessness. Now is the time to step forward and be ready.
Imagine with me a community that knows Safe Families is here; envision built up circles of support ready to extend care and relationship; then picture us as a church fulfilling Our Vision, poised to embrace more opportunities to spread the love of God and draw the isolated in our community into fellowship. Join us in showing the community and those in a crisis that Love Never Stops!
- April 25th National Safe Families For Children Sunday
- May 22nd Two-Track Training
- Be Ready: Live Core Training (New Recruits)
- While You Wait: Innovative Team Workshop on Community Engagement (for Current Team members)
For more information on how to join the Safe Families team contact Joy Sasser: [email protected]