Herman and Donna Ostry bought a farm just outside of Bruno, Nebraska in 1981. But they had a barn with a BIG problem. Every time it rained, the barn flooded. In fact, at one point they measured 29 inches of standing water. One night, Farmer Herman made a joke at the dinner table, “If we just had enough people we could pick this thing up and move it.”
To make a long story short, that’s just what they did. On July 30th, 1988, a crowd of 4000 people came to watch 344 people pick up the barn by a steel grid that had been installed and carry it 115 feet up 6 feel of elevation, turn it 90 degrees and set it back down. It took about 20 minutes.
Right now, the foster care system in your community is flooding. The normal and natural reaction to flooding is to grab a bucket and, when we get overwhelmed, ask for more and more buckets. However the bucket approach will never make the ground dry — it will only make it less wet. If we want true and lasting change in foster care, we need to move the barn.
There is foster care “activity” in every state in the country. This is the bucket approach. More, better, faster. However, church based foster care “movement” (moving the barn) has not reached every community . . . yet. While foster care activity is important as a way of steadily attempting to meet needs as they arise, foster care movement can have significant impact on the system in a relatively short period of time. Foster care movement happens when fully-engaged churches prayerfully work together in their county with a vision to provide more than enough for kids and families where they live – to move the barn to dry ground.
This kind of movement can happen where you live and our network of organizations can provide the support to help you get there. To get started, check out our free PDF booklet, Growing a Foster Care Movement Where You Live: Your First Four Critical Steps.
You care about kids in foster care and want churches in your community to take action, but you’re not sure where to start. This simple interactive guide will walk you through the first four critical steps of foster care movement-building. It provides clear, simple worksheets to help you figure out what it will take to provide more than enough for kids and families in the county where you live.
Tools to Help You
E-Booklet: Growing a Foster Care Movement Where You Live
Video: 4 Principles of Moving Barns (and Building Foster Care Movements)
Video: Fostering Movement on a Foundation of Prayer
E-Booklet: The Foster Care Prayer Guide
E-Booklet: Church & State Partnerships in Foster Care: 6 Places Where it's Working
Children's Book: Farmer Herman and the Flooding Barn
Read more about building a foster care movement
Rock Stars and Foster Care Advocates
by Jason Weber
When I was in junior high at the height of the 80s glam rock era, a friend of mine and I decided that we wanted to start a rock band. We came up with a name. I worked on a logo. We went to an army surplus store to begin scouting out cool clothes (and, of course, boots) that we could cobble together into rock star attire. We spent a day cleaning out an old train car on my family’s farm that served as the core structure of our barn (cool, right?).
Donna Ostry: Farmer Herman's Bride Shines Brightly
by Jason Weber
I happened to be speaking at a conference in Nebraska about an hour south of the Ostry farm. I had been telling the story of 344 people who had moved a barn back in 1988 and had written the text for a possible children’s book. However, I wanted to meet the Ostrys in person and get their blessing. At that point, we didn’t yet have any of the 344 drawings we needed and I knew that I wanted the Ostrys to do one.
Fixing Foster Care and Refrigerators in Unexpected Ways
by Jason Weber
A couple of years ago, our fridge went out. Meat was thawing, ice was dripping, and worst of all, the leftover ice cream cake in the freezer was in great peril. The very kind repairman showed up that afternoon and, after doing his thing for like three minutes, came back and told me the heater needed to be replaced. I’m no rocket scientist (or refrigerator repairman) but his diagnosis did give me brief pause.