This post will only be an introduction to Safe Families here in Merced County. Debbie Bier and I had a wonderful coffee time together yesterday at Starbucks and discussed hopes of seeing Safe Families – SEE LINK really spreading through the county as a ministry we all in some way are considering being a part of going forward. Debbie is the leader for Safe Families here in the county, and she is your point person for getting involved in Safe Families. This ministry is something anyone from any of the local churches here in the county can get involved in, something I think is important to point out. Safe Families for our county is “housed” at First Baptist Church of Merced, a thriving non-denominational church here in town. And, Debbie is the point person there. That said, she clearly articulated that any believer can work with her, no matter the church they are currently plugged into in the county.
Debbie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 209-756-3324.
Debbie’s passion for Safe Families is not just a passion for nice gesture toward children in crisis. It’s based in her passion for our Savior, for God and His love for us and anyone else who receives His grace. Showing this compassion to these children in crisis is a powerful way to show them the grace we have received in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s also a powerful way to show those around our county that the Redeemer actually redeems. He isn’t just a nice religious idea. He transforms lives to the point of our lives being genuinely bent to serving the weak and poor and lonely and hurting.
If we serve the wealthy and comfortable, and that’s all, we are definitely missing something huge from Jesus’ communications to us while with us in person. His actions spoke loudest above all the noise of society’s wants for entertainment and selfish gain. The action, above all, of Jesus’ death on the cross to take away the sin and its consequences for all who trust in Him… This wakes us up and reminds us to abandon comforts and wealth more often than when distracted with secondary matters. The Gospel of Jesus Christ changes everything, friends! Let’s ponder this great Gospel that has hit the ground in the Person of Jesus Christ, this Gospel of Jesus encountering us face-to-face as humanity and demonstrating divine love for a hurting and sinful group of people who have but to recognize this favor and turn to this eternal joy!
How then do we respond to this divine favor shown to us? One wonderful and consistent way is to show God’s favor to more people like us, people aware of their needs and sorrows and weakness enough to want redemption, at least redemption from trying circumstances. When we reach out and care for those in desperate places, we encounter those most often open to hearing the good news about Jesus. However, we have to hang in there long enough to genuinely show God’s favor. If all we do is weekend warrior good deeds to a different group or person every weekend we’re out “in service,” we’re likely to be observed as just looking for conversion marks on our belts. A little personal reflection before the LORD is a good idea if this is what is driving you to love on others.
To narrow in a little more on Safe Families as an opportunity for our community, let me unpack a vision or dream even. Imagine if the majority of our local churches had a point person or two working to develop a vision for Safe Families. Imagine if that point person was working with the singles and couples of the church to understand the crisis so many children in our county find themselves in week-in and week-out. There are over 700 children in our foster care system in Merced County. Did you know that? Guess what. There are just as many in some place of crisis. We know this just by hearing the arguments in the grocery store or as families are seeking to get around town and begin screaming amongst themselves. Domestic violence is a huge cause of children ending up in foster care. What if these families could reach out to the Christian community and get the help they so crave? This is how Safe Families works. A parent can reach out and ask for help through Safe Families before getting to the point where CPS/HSA needs to be called. What a wonderful vision, right? A believing family can show selfless love to a family nearing or trying to escape a domestic violence situation. Or, take the case of financial need or drug abuse or sexual abuse? These situations are where families that want to help can help in very key places and times.
The typical situation with Safe Families is that as a host family, you take in a child for a maximum of three months while the child’s parent(s) get back on their feet physically, emotionally, psychologically, financially. It’s not extremely cut and dry and no one story is identical to the next, but I’m simply seeking to get some of the conversation started here. I’m intentionally just getting some thoughts out on Safe Families for now. I’m just learning about it myself.
Please pray for those of your local church and most importantly for those in these places of crisis. Pray for your own heart and those in your family. My hope would be that Christian families in Merced and Tuolumne Counties take this opportunity to serve in very lasting ways to heart, praying for God’s heart of compassion, and listening for His lead.
I’ve also discussed CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). For my wife and I, we are seriously considering going this route for now when it comes to kids who are already in the foster care system. Safe Families has many different ways to get involved, but my hope is that as families get involved in lighter ways, such as helping with some babysitting or contributing items needed for these children, that more and more families will either become a part of CASA or Safe Families and lead others in their churches to do the same.
Enjoy your week, friends!