Yesterday I had the honor of traveling up to Citrus Heights, CA to listen to Jerry Johnson – SEE LINK – from Safe Families – SEE LINK – and Koinonia Family Services out of Modesto, CA. Jerry shared with a group of community developers from various ministries and points of contact in the Citrus Heights area. This group is organized by the city center and call themselves The Citrus Heights Collective. They focus on meeting the needs of various demographics who find themselves in a place of need, from the homeless to children in crisis, so Safe Families was a perfect ministry opportunity for them to learn more about, Jerry being the ideal presenter. My hope was to watch and learn from Jerry as he presented to this collective, observing how he explains this concept to various kinds of people from various approaches to meeting needs. It was inspiring and exciting to observe and then to meet Jerry afterward.
During my drive up to Sacramento and back, I prayed that God would open doors in my two counties of contact and provide key contacts in local churches around both counties who I could re-share this information with, inspiring action FOR KIDS IN CRISIS.
We have a huge opportunity, friends, to care for children who find themselves squeezed in their parents’ very difficult circumstances, whether circumstancial or due to their parents’ mistakes. Many of the children who are discovered through Safe Families have a parent or parents in need of time to get their feet under them. Allowing them to leave their children with a SAFE FAMILY and not need to lose custody of their child is a hugely valuable service we as believers can offer to families in crisis. Often, Jerry shared, the parent is needing help due to homelessness or drug/substance abuse. Jerry shared that this is not an easy ministry to be involved in, and yet it is extremely special and beautiful to see these children not become the casualties of their parents’ trying situations. It can often take the parent(s) a try or two at say a re-habilitation program before they are able to keep their child/children again, but you’ve done this child / these children a huge service to take care of them, as well as the parent/parents. The ultimate goal time and time again is establishing yet another safe family, right? We’re doing what Christ has given us the opportunity to do, to introduce His stability and trustworthiness into each other’s lives throughout our communities. This is one very special way to do this in very specific and felt ways.
What dawned on me more than getting families to raise their hands was the need for families to be stable and ready to care for children in crisis. I even did (and have been doing) some soul-searching in my own life around this. We have contact with some young people we could really be encouragements to, and we seek to be available to them and mentors for them. However, as we experience God’s favor on our lives as believers, we always have room for improvement, and this shouldn’t overwhelm us. It should remind us that we need the Savior still. We will always need Him and we are but His instruments for grace and change in one another’s lives as we encounter each other to the praise of the Great Redeemer Himself!
So, my prayer, as I seek to find point people for the cause of Safe Families being a viable part of at least three churches in each county… My prayer is simply this:
Father, remind us of our being works in progress. Help us to remember that we will never be ready to serve if we think we need to be all brushed up and air-brushed so-to-speak. Please remind us of Your sufficiency and how utterly desperate we are for the Redeemer. May our lives have margin for ministry more every year. May we follow our Redeemer and walk in loving relationship with Him via Your Spirit, Word, and children. May we increasingly enjoy Your loving attention to our lives that we might want to demonstrate this loving attention to the lives of those we encounter and seek out. Please teach us to seek out the hurting and dying and lonely and forlorn one person at a time. Help us to find deep delight in our times with people, amazed that we get to know YOU better as we show Your love to those we meet and seek out. In the wonderful presence of Jesus, we pray this. Amen.
Dear friends, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you believe you have a good contact for me to talk with about Safe Families. I’d simply like to be an initial encourager, and then I’ll likely put you/them in contact with Debbie Bier or Jerry Johnson in short order. I’m not seeking to be constantly involved in Safe Families. My primary ministry roles are through my business, this blog, and helping with kicking off a newer non-profit that I’ll write about down the road. That said, I believe for now that God has called me to follow a bit of a journalistic route to encouraging a thorough effort amongst the body of Christ to address the needs of children in crisis in Merced and Tuolumne Counties. Please pray for the right encounters for me, that I could steadily build the right relationships with the right people to promote this effort. May we see the existence of children in crisis decrease dramatically, LORD-willing, in the next year, two years, and three. If we are serious about this, it is very reachable in the near future, loved ones!
In His joy,