Sometimes the teachings of Scripture can be difficult to understand and apply, or even debatable among different groups. "How literal is this," "How far do we take that," "How does that translate into our context," and so on.
But sometimes it's really clear.
Like when Jesus says "All authority on Heaven and on Earth has been given to me, therefore GO, make disciples of all nations..."
Or when His brother, James, inspired by the Holy Spirit, makes this statement about pure religion:
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
Hard to argue with the clear and simple message - and it makes sense, doesn't it? Our God describes Himself as "Holy" and says "Be holy, as I am holy." As we keep ourselves 'unstained from the world,' we pursue a "set-apartness", a holiness that reflects our Father in Heaven. AND, our God describes Himself as "Father of the fatherless and protector of widows." We bear His image and reflect His nature when we do the same.
But how do we do that? I know there's a lot going on with families at Watkinsville adopting and fostering, but...are we all supposed to adopt and/or serve in Foster Care? If so, where do I start? What if that's not my calling, or I'm not in a place to do one of those things. How do I practically care for orphans?
Enter: Chosen for Life Ministries
Chosen for Life is a close ministry partner of Watkinsville First Baptist - which means we support them, believe in them and love what they do. They are a Christian ministry dedicated to educating and engaging our community on the many aspects of Adoption, Foster Care, and Orphan Care.
The most visible expressions of their ministry are a yearly conference, a foster care initiative with care teams, and adoption assistance grants.
- 2016 saw the 5th annual Chosen for Life Conference, and was hosted for the third time at Watkinsville.
- This year's conference saw over 230 adults in attendance with 135 children being cared for during the conference.
- 50 families from the community were able to receive 8 of the 15 yearly credit hours that they need to continue as foster parents - most of these families are unchurched.
Foster Care Initiative
- There are close to 300 children in the foster system between Clarke and Oconee Counties, and currently only 45 active foster homes (praise God, the number of homes has almost doubled in the past two years!)
- Chosen for Life has trained 35 teams and close to 350 volunteers to act as "Care Teams" to surround active foster families and help them thrive in their role.
- 19 churches in the Clarke/Oconee area are involved in this together
Adoption Assistance Grants
- Chosen for Life has raised $135,000 in the past few years to give away in the form of 47 adoption grants which helped bring 57 former-orphans into forever-homes (our family received a grant when we brought home Lizzie)
- These funds are raised through a project called "Both Hands," which serves local widows at the same time it raises money for grants. The goal for this year's project (on Saturday, April 30) is to raise $107,000. 100% of money raised goes to adoption grants.
And there's more to come.
Chosen for Life has recently brought on two new staff, a full-time Executive Director and a part-time Director of Development (our own Brian King). They have a vision to see this ministry expand, both in it's current work and to new initiatives. The years ahead should hold more training and education opportunities, more foster families trained and supported, and ultimately, more children cared for.
"He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing," and He does that through ministries like Chosen for Life. Do you want to be a part of this movement? Do you want to reflect God's glory and nature in how you care for orphans?
Contact Chosen for Life: it's what they do.