Our own adoption processes have brought us face to face with homelessness, mental health issues, single mothers/absent fathers, the brokenness of the foster care system, lack of clean water, human trafficking, poverty, lack of maternal health care and drug addiction.
Through it all, God has given us a fierce desire to step into this brokenness and be the hands and feet of Jesus to at-risk families and their children, creating a safe home life and keeping families together whenever possible.
verb (used with object), pre·served, pre·serv·ing.
As I mentioned yesterday, the mission of our West Grove Team is family preservation. To come alongside our neighbors as friends and support to keep the family unit together.
Our first year in Miami will focus on building relationships with our neighbors and adjusting to our new neighborhood and culture. We’ll eat together, play together, walk together, do life together.
We will become neighbors and friends and family. We will invite our neighbors into our life. We will model healthy family, biblical fatherhood/motherhood, and healthy parenting.
We will lean strong and steadfast into our belief that the Gospel can heal broken families. We will step out of our comfort zones and into the brokenness and oppression of poverty, be willing to share our own stories and the suffering we have endured, as a testimony to the healing work of Jesus.
I have to be honest, this is where I’ve been lied to. After our visit in March, I heard the same whispers Eve heard in the Garden.
Did God really say He could use you?
How will you model healthy family?
Didn’t you yell at your kids this morning?
Didn’t you get into an argument with your husband last night?
Isn’t your ministry here going to miss you?
The snake may be sly but he has only one act. His slimy, slithering, belly-on-the-ground words always sound the same, “Did God really say…?”
Lies. Devouring lies from the enemy of family.
Just as we know the Light that can permeate bright and sunny darkness, we know what Jesus said about us:
You are the salt of the earth.
Jesus didn’t say we should be salt, or we could be salt, or if we get it together and stop screwing up we would be salt. He said we are the salt. Already. He declared it.
In Hebrew culture salt was used for many things, including as a preserving agent. There were no deep freezes back then so meat was preserved with salt. Kept safe with salt. Kept healthy with salt.
And Jesus declared that of us to the world. If He believes it about us, I can believe it about us too.
During our second year in Miami we’ll discern the best way to move forward in preserving families. This could include implementing a Safe Families for Children program, and/or creating opportunities to engage youth and teens with the gospel through filmmaking workshops or a CrossFit -style fitness league.
You see, when God is writing your story, you don’t always get a preview copy. If God had let me proofread, a lot of things would have gone differently. I would have edited out the very things that have prepared us for this good work He arranged beforehand.
Research has shown that growing up in poverty effects a child’s brain much the same as trauma, abuse and neglect. So every. time. we had to take another training class because our home study expired, or because we became a Safe Family, or because the state wouldn’t accept the previous 100 hours of training we had (true story), I rolled my eyes and shook by fist.
But God just smiled. He knew we would need that training for a purpose greater than what I could see. He was writing further into the story than I had read.