A couple weeks ago I had a good conversation with a Canadian passionate to see churches across his country catch a vision for foster care, adoption and orphan care. “There’s so much enthusiasm and engagement in the U.S. But it is much less common north of the border,” he lamented.
He’s not the first to share that sentiment with me. But I can say confidently that something is indeed stirring in Canadian churches – perhaps subtle, but unmistakable, like early signs of spring.
Just this past weekend, I had the privilege of preaching at Tenth Church Vancouver in British Columbia. Even as one of the larger churches in the country, Tenth is a deeply-relational community, actively seeking to be the tangible presence of Christ in urban Vancouver.
The pastor – Ken Shigematsu – exudes the presence of Jesus in a refreshingly-unassuming way. (I’d highly recommend his new book, God in My Everything, which I’m currently reading.) He and others on the church’s leadership team articulate a strong desire to see Tenth become a community known for embracing vulnerable children – from local foster care to support of orphan ministry oversees.
I spent time with a number of other remarkable people in the church, too, some of whom are already leading the way.
Ryan and Alicia Perez are essentially newlyweds. Alicia returned from CAFO2014 last year with a deeply-confirmed sense that God was indeed inviting them toward foster care. They hope to have biological children someday. But, as they explain it, the current season of life – and an extra bedroom in their condo – makes this a great time to welcome a child in need of a temporary family. They are currently caring for a dear 8-year old boy. “It’s one of the hardest things we’ve ever done,” Ryan told me. “But it’s so full of blessings, too.”
Others are setting that kind of example, too. One couple took in two boys for a year after the death of their mother and incarceration of their father. Two other families embraced adoption before there were any to join them in the journey. Another vibrant couple – David and Linda Gotts – founded and now gives leadership to the very compelling work of International China Concern, caring for special needs orphans in China. The church’s magazine, EPIC, this month includes an array of excellent articles on ways to work for “fullness of life for every child.”
Meanwhile, across Canada, a new network of organizations, churches and individuals is taking shape: Forever Families of Canada. The couple giving key leadership to this vision – Wendi and Harold Park – hope it will become a hub for a growing movement across the country. They’ll be holding their first “Collaborate” conference this May 21-22 at Burnett Fellow Church, Maple Ridge, BC to invest in growing a national movement, just before a Canadian “Together for Adoption” Conference.
Yes, these and other indications of spring are still spread far across a vast country. But there may be no better time of year than when green shoots are bursting up through melting snow and buds popping out on every tree. It’s only February, but that’s just what is happening in Canada.