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By Kelley Mast

When my wife, Hannah, called me that evening as I was at my office working on a sermon, she had that sound in her voice – that sound that said, “I’ve tried everything I know to do. It’s time to call in reinforcements.”

We were providing emergency temporary foster care (often called respite care) for a twelve-year-old young lady who was clearly struggling in several areas of her life. We’ll call her Shawna. As is often the case in such short-term situations, we knew little of Shawna’s story, but the usual suspect chapters were clearly there: she had spent several years bouncing from home to home due to behaviors stemming from childhood abuse, rejection, and an imperfect system. She frequently ran away. She longed for love and genuine acceptance but scarcely knew how to accept these gifts when presented with them. The enemy had worked hard in this young lady’s life to steal her self-worth, kill her ability to receive love from others, and destroy her sense of belonging.

My wife was working to get our other children through the evening and ready for bed, and this temporary member of the Mast home was pulling out all of her tricks. When Hannah called, I believe this young lady was standing in her socks in the dark a block from our house, demanding that we call the police to come take her away. Later as I sat on the curb and talked with her, I was reminded of our call to minister the Father’s love and the message of the Gospel to children in our home whether they are here for a few days or for 18 years.

We in Western culture often have a closed definition of “family.” We have very closely defined borders around our homes. In the past six years of providing foster care and adoption, our family has learned to open the boundaries of our family and redefine whom we consider family.

When considering foster care and adoption, many people simply see the challenges. Consider also the possibilities – the opportunities to plant seeds of hope and love, to plant the Good News of Christ in the lives of children.

Caring for lost, orphaned, and hurting children has been in the DNA of the worldwide Church, the body of Christ, since its very inception. In Psalm 68 we hear the Father’s heart for these children:

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land (vs. 4-5).

The Apostle James called it “true religion” to care for the orphan and widow in their distress (1:27). Wherever the Gospel of Christ has spread, a heart for these hurting children has spread with it. Let us as the Church continue to be foremost in ministering to and helping to change the lives of hurting children in the backyards of our cities and across the globe.

After her short stay in our home, Shawna went to a treatment center for further help. When she was picked up by her caseworker, she left a letter for us thanking us for our care and said that she felt loved in our home. I may never know how she fares in the future. But I’m glad she spent a few days in the mission field inside the four walls of my home – challenges and all.

Mast-authorKelley Mast, his wife Hannah and their five children (along with the children they foster) live in Kearney, Nebraska. Kelley is the assistant pastor at Spirit of Life Open Bible Church and the Director of Family Services at Compass, a Christian foster care and family services agency. Hannah skillfully manages their foster care cases and a busy home.

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