The Church and the Fatherless in the Least Churched Region of America

It may be the least churched part of America, but Christians are rising vibrantly for the fatherless across the Pacific Northwest.  The upcoming Refresh Conference in Seattle and Spokane Orphan Summit are the tip of an iceberg of growing adoption, foster and global orphan efforts throughout Washington.

Not far away, a remarkable article by Oregonian columnist Steve Duin reported what he called, “A Revolution in Portland’s Foster Care.”

The article describes how 37 churches have joined together to serve kids in the foster system and even the system itself.  The Portland area has 1,640 certified foster parents and needs 884 more.  The churches have set this as their goal–work to recruit and support 884 families.  As they do, they’re also seeking to care for social workers as well.  They began by spending more than 100 hours just listening—working to understand the challenges faced by social workers and how they could help.  Recently, they’ve provided new furniture and fresh paint for all of the child welfare offices in the metro area.

A 20-year veteran of the child welfare system described, “I can’t express that enough. I’m moved to tears. Often.”

This all comes on top of the ongoing work of Portland-based CAFO member, The Mentoring Project, which continues to engage Christians in long-term relationships with fatherless youth.

Much of this story is yet to be written.  But what’s already happening reveals in full color what we often emphasize on this blog:  LOVE FOR ORPHANS TRANSFORMS.

It’s transforming the lives of precious children in need of family care.

It’s transforming individual Christians.  As one foster and adoptive mother described for the article, “I can speak firsthand of not only the joy, but the heartache.  But we are called to love. We are not necessarily called to be successful.”

It’s transforming distinct and sometimes isolated churches into a unified network.

And it’s transforming a watching world that’s seeing the Gospel lived out.  As the article put it, they way churches are stepping up for kids in foster care has “changed the agency’s understanding of the church.”

That’s saying a lot, especially in the least-churched region of America.