When Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) expanded its Family Foster Care program to come alongside churches interested in beginning their own foster care ministries, Salem Baptist Church in Dobson was one of the first onboard.
Reverend David Powell, the church’s Senior Pastor, has seen Salem’s foster care and adoption ministry meet the needs of numerous children in the custody of their county’s department of social services. It is an endeavor that is also deeply personal to him and his spouse, Lindsey.
“My wife and I were compelled to pursue foster-to-adopt in our lives personally,” Powell divulges. “One of the things we discovered very early in our marriage, and this was something that God impressed upon our hearts, is that foster care and adoption is something we are supposed to be about as Christians.”
The couple has one biological son, seven-year-old Noah. They have fostered several children and have adopted two of them––seven-year-old Laylin and five-year-old Ally who are siblings. What started with the Powell family has blossomed into something even greater.
“Along the way, we realized this was not only something God was calling us to do as a family, but something that He was calling us to do as a church family,” Powell shares.
North Carolina has approximately 16,000 children in its foster care system––boys and girls removed from their families largely due to abuse and neglect. Powell discovered that just in Surry County, his church’s home county, there were not enough foster homes to care for children in their local system.
“As a congregation, we began to have conversations about what can we do within our county to make a difference,” Powell recalls. “Knowing how to begin, that’s one of the things we struggle with as Christians. We see the need but the need seems so large we don’t know how to tackle it.”
Reaching out to BCH made perfect sense to Powell whose connection goes beyond his one as a pastor––his father, 83-year-old Harrison Powell, lived as a boy at BCH’s Mills Home in Thomasville for seven years. Powell called Keith Henry, BCH’s Chief Operating Officer, to ask for guidance to help the church establish its own foster and adoption ministry. Working towards this goal began when BCH staff members shared during a Salem Baptist Church service.
“As pastors, we must be aware there are people in our pews that God is already calling to this ministry. Some aren’t even aware of what God is putting in place until that opportunity is put in front of them,” Powell says. “We should never assume that this might not be something for our church because there is a way to be involved.”
In the weeks that followed, BCH foster care staff traveled to the church to conduct training sessions for several couples interested in becoming foster parents. As a part of the church’s overall ministry, other members supported the couples and their foster/adoptive children by providing respite, clothing, school supplies, and meeting other essential needs. Most of all, the church is able to show God’s love to the children, many who are hearing the Gospel for the first time.
Soon after the couples were licensed, the department of social services called with six siblings needing placement. Three church families were able to take two children each making it possible for the siblings to see each other regularly and attend church together. In Powell’s eyes, this is an example of how more can be accomplished when the church comes together no matter the size of the need.
“It’s okay if churches and families within a church feel a little nervous or apprehensive when they first hear about the need and how great it may seem,” Powell said. “That’s alright because it’s not bigger than God.”
He encourages other pastors and church leaders to pray about partnering with BCH to begin foster and adoption ministries in their churches.
“I believe what Baptist Children’s Homes is doing is helping us as churches do what we are already called to do––do even what I believe churches want to do––but helping us get there.”
Watch Salem Baptist Church's short video below to see how God is working through the church's foster/adopt partnership with Baptist Children's Homes. For more information for churches and couples, visit www.bchfosteradopt.org
Article written by Blake Ragsdale, BCH Director of Communications