When the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade and sent abortion oversight back to the states, Baptist ministry leaders began carefully considering some questions many were asking: What would the ruling mean to families and children? How would the decision affect the foster care system?
Among those asking these questions was Rod Marshall, Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries president and CEO.
“I have served here for nearly 28 years,” Marshall said. “I get to see changed lives every day through the incredible faithfulness and hard work of our social workers, counselors, foster parents, ministry partners, prayer warriors and financial supporters.”
Marshall said no one yet knows the full implications of the Supreme Court ruling, but he knows there are many children who need families and lives continue to be changed by ministries like ABCH.
“There are currently 6,000 children in Alabama’s foster care system and only 2,500 licensed foster homes,” Marshall noted. “Before Roe v. Wade was ever reconsidered, we already had a foster care crisis.
“Interestingly, there are a little more than 3,000 Alabama Baptist churches. If all these churches come together collectively to advocate for these hurting children, we believe we could solve the foster care crisis in our state.”
Marshall noted an increase in individuals and families showing interest in becoming foster parents, as well as churches asking how they can help with the possible increase of children in foster care.
“Our ministry adopted an aggressive strategic plan in November 2021 to nearly double the number of children we serve by 2031, our 140th anniversary,” Marshall said. “We are calling this plan ‘Vision 140.’
“We pray that other Christian ministries might also seek to increase their presence in the state’s foster care system so that we can ensure that every child in foster care gets the highest quality care possible and the opportunity to hear the gospel.”
As the state’s largest faith-based provider of foster care services, ABCH sees on a daily basis more and more children entering the foster care system in need of loving and safe homes.
“Sadly, many days we decline more referrals than we are able to accept because we do not have enough foster homes,” Marshall lamented. “There is also a greater need for families that can care for school-aged children, teenagers or sibling groups. Though not everyone is called to be a foster parent, all followers of Christ are called to respond to the plight of a child in need.”
Helping foster families
Marshall noted that if someone is not called to foster, they can support a family that is fostering by providing meals, helping with laundry or yard work, or getting trained to babysit foster kids.
“These three wanted to provide love offerings to either our ministry, or several ministries that care for hurting children, due to the potential of more children entering foster care and the current overwhelming demand for foster families,” Marshall said.
FBC Athens originally set an offering goal of $3,000. When members exceeded that, they raised it to $5,000 and ended up raising $31,381, Marshall reported.
Church leaders at Malvern Baptist had been praying for Roe v. Wade to be overturned and when the Lord answered their prayers they decided to give back since they had been blessed financially. They gave $10,000 to each of the four organizations that work to serve needy children, including ABCH.
“First Baptist Church Decatur [also] is a very involved and passionate partner to our ministry,” Marshall noted. “They provided a $10,000 offering in response to Roe v. Wade, but this is only one of many things they are doing to create awareness to help children in foster care within their church family.”
Each Wednesday throughout November, the church will highlight a ministry that serves children in need, including ABCH. In January, they plan to heavily promote ways members can take the next step by serving, sponsoring, giving or opening their homes as foster parents.
Caring for lives
Marshall suggested three ways people can become involved: “We know that not everyone is called to foster, but everyone can do something,” he asserted. “For individuals and churches, there are three ways we share that they can help children in foster care — pray, serve and/or give.”
Prayer is essential for foster children to experience healing from abuse, neglect and trauma many have experienced, Marshall said.
Volunteering also is vital, including giving time, talent and “treasure.”
For more information about this issue in your state, check with your state Baptist children’s home, church, association or state Baptist convention to find out how your area is serving struggling children and families.
To contact your state convention for more information, click here.