Blog  /  Parenting  /  Orphan Sunday : Why I am a Foster Dad (Part I)

Sunday November 7th is Orphan Sunday.  A day set aside to remember God’s express command to care for the needs of orphans.  Here is the story of our dear friends and partners in ministry, the Bartolini’s, who see this commandment as a call to real action, not just awareness and pity.

Why I am a Foster Dad | Part I

James 1:27 tells us that “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction….”  It really is that simple.   In the context of James’ letter, he was encouraging those who follow Jesus to be followers of action, Jesus’ actions: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (verses 22-25).  So I had to ask myself, what does it mean for me to “visit the orphan in their affliction.”  To obey this, not everyone is supposed to become a foster parent, but everyone is supposed to have a part to play in taking care of our community’s orphans.  For my wife and me, we already had the tools, we saw the need, and we already weren’t sleeping through the night, so it has been an easy transition to bring these special kids into our home, our family, and our hearts.

Moreover, when I read Matthew 25, and Jesus explains what the final judgment will be like, he summarizes our earthly actions by saying that what we did to “the least of these” – those we saw in need – we did to Him.  I have to ask myself who, in my life, was the least of these.  The answer was the 10,000 children in Arizona who are abused, abandoned, and neglected.

There are a lot of responses and excuses people tell me about why they can’t be a foster parent.  The number one excuse I hear is that it will be too painful to let them go.  I understand that.  It’s true.  But if you run that through the filter of Jesus’ Gospel, run that excuse parallel to Jesus’ own words: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24).  Jesus picked up His cross for us, he bore the pain of death and the punishment caused by our sins.  Can I bear the pain of falling in love with a child and letting him or her go?  One thing I glean from the gospels is that Jesus didn’t live a life for Himself – it wasn’t about Him.  In the same way, we aren’t bringing these kids into our home for us, we do it for them.  Simply put, it isn’t about you or the pain you will feel, it’s about these kids.

The reality is that someone needs to become a mom and dad to our community’s orphans.  I wonder why there aren’t more Christ followers operating within the foster care system.  Why not us?  Why not you?  There is pain, it’s trying at times, but there are many blessings that we receive.  We have been fostering kids for the past 6 years and have had 19 kids in our homes.  Some of them stay a few days, some a few months, and one of them has become a permanent part of our family.  There are more great times than there are tough times, although the tough times have been hard.  Those are the times when you really have to dig deep and see the face of Jesus in these kids, seeing that you are doing this unto Him and not the crying, screaming child that is carrying around more pain than a child should carry.  Following Christ isn’t easy, but He’s good.  God smiles on me at the right moments.

For more information on Orphan Sunday click HERE.

Peter Bartolini

Peter Bartolini is a member of Family Matters\’ board of directors and is part of our Speaker Team. He and his wife Julie have been foster parents since 2004. They have 3 children, Natalie- age 9, Morgan- age 8 and Sammy- age 6. They currently have the blessing of an 11 month old foster care placement living in their home and bringing them joy daily. Since they became foster parents, they have had 19 foster kids in their home and look forward to many more! Peter blogs at http://peterbarto.wordpress.com/

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