Saint Francis Foster Care Agency

When BryAnna and I worked full time in the public schools, we did not yet have children and our schedules would not often allow us to be home until around 5 PM.  One day upon returning from school, our neighbors from the south stopped by to ask if we could take three children into our house immediately.  Our immediate reaction: “Wait, WHAT?!”

Flashback: These neighbors were “retired” foster parents.  Through the years, they had housed over 75 kids through foster care.  We had heard many of their crazy experiences and gained more and more respect for all they had given up through the years of foster care.

Back to the story: Earlier that morning, our neighbors to the NORTH had their three children taken into foster care for neglect.  These neighbors also had their sister and her four children living with them.  Seven children all together placed into foster care in two sibling groups.  Our crazy southern neighbors agreed to take the sibling group of four and were knocking on our door to see if we would be able to take the other three.

We had not considered foster care.  We didn’t know what is was like having ONE child.  This was crazy!  But we aren’t good at saying no, so after a quick conversation with one another, we were on the phone with a worker at Saint Francis Foster Care Agency out of Grand Island to see what we could do!

We did not have those three children placed with us, but we decided if we could so serviceareas350quickly say yes to three, we should start down the trail of becoming certified foster parents.

Today we are blessed to be serving with Saint Francis Foster Care Agency serving children and parents in our community.  Foster Care is a roller coaster of a ride, but our love for children has only grown.  We have experienced the hardest heartache, but greatest joy working in foster care, and it has all been worth it!

Why do I want to highlight Saint Francis Agency?  They have been a tremendous support through our fight for providing children with everything they deserve.

If you ever want to know details about our foster care journey, or desire to know how you can help in foster care don’t hesitate to ask.

Helping the orphans among us.

Making Ministry: Listening with Patience

One on one interactions mean we must know how to communicate by carrying on real conversations.  Holding the attitude of Paul in Acts 20, Gospel connections are not made by talking about the weather for an hour.  Gospel connections are made when a conversation fulfills the goals presented in James 5:16:

Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

The healing referred to is not only a physical healing, it can also be a spiritual healing.  There is healing in confession of sins and temptations.  Through the many conversations I have been a part of in my ministry, I want to share a few pointers I have learned.  These suggestions do not come from a counseling degree, it is all from experience and careful application of the word of God, which brings me to the first suggestion:

Apply the Word

I do not have all the answers when it comes to scripture (surprising I know).  Sometimes, I am confused about the message of the Bible and how it is interacting in my life.  Being humble enough to share that confusion, and have confidence that God is leading me to clarity is an important part of discussion.  I never approach a Gospel centered conversation pretending to know all the answers.  Instead I willing share the clarity God has given me and how His word is applying to my life.  If we can honestly share our confusion, yet show confidence of faith, it allows Christ to shine through our weakness and trust builds within the conversation.

Quick to Listen

Be a listener.  Desire to know about the person you are conversing with.  Make it your goal to learn as much as you can about that person and you will listen more than you speak. You won’t discuss your life because you will be focused on learning about the life of the other person.  Check your heart as well: Do you desire to guide this person to Christ, or are you digging for your own personal gain?  The desires of your heart are important because they will be felt in the atmosphere of the conversation.  If your heart is truly led by Christ, the conversation will be led by Him as well.  He will give you the things to say and questions to ask.

Go ahead, Ask the Question

“So what ended up happening between you and your boyfriend?  How do your parents handle the hurt?  Walk me through the details of the rape.”

If you are seeking to help, if you genuinely want to lead that person toward the Gospel, the hard, personal questions will pop in your head.  Ask the question, don’t push it away.

You might say, “That’s not your place, that’s to personal!”

When I seek to fulfill the message of James 5:16, I believe we are meant to act differently than the world by not holding in the hard stuff of life, by not digging into the lives of others for personal gain, and by giving our burdens to one another so we can assist in leading to the feet of Jesus.  True believers will live out faith by living together through conversation in the good and the bad.

What makes this digging okay for believers but not from worldly standards: our heart.  Personal gain that the world seeks versus spiritual guidance toward the cross.

Wait for the Answer

When your heart is set toward guidance for that person, when you prayerfully approach a conversation, when you ask the hard question, you must have patience.  Any difficult conversation takes thoughtful time and careful words.  Showing trust is giving time, not trying to fill the silence.

Pray

Always end with prayer.  Ask for God’s guidance and remember His power in confession.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

More on Making Ministry:

Making Ministry: One connection at a time (Part 1)

Making Ministry: Healing the Hurt (Part 3) coming soon…

Making Ministry: One connection at a time

When it comes to bringing the Gospel to others, I have always looked to Paul as the best example.  Paul wrote much of the New Testament, he wrote to encourage people toward spreading the Gospel through the church, and he wasn’t Christ, which almost gives him a credibility as being more human like (For example, he didn’t know the heart of every person as Christ did). Most importantly, his ministry attitude makes the most sense to me.

Paul desired to learn about each person he came in contact with as much as he could. –1 Corinthians 9:19-23

He saw everyone as being on equal level as Christ saw them. –Galatians 3:26-28

He was a tent-maker; his ministry was volunteer based and we know he was in the world, not separated by being only a evangelist. –Acts 18:1-4

He gave different advice to different churches, knowing that the church is the backbone to our faith, but church will look different for every town, culture, and people.

But my favorite attribute of Paul’s attitude is found in Acts 20: specifically when he says, I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. -Acts 20:26-27

Ministry is not about planning the greatest activities, hosting the best events, having the largest numbers, or going on the most mission trips. Although these things can hold an importance, they can all be beneficial or harmful toward the spreading of the gospel.  Ministry is not shrinking or missing an opportunity to spread the gospel.

There was a summer I was teaching a Bible class for three weeks at Nebraska Youth Camp.  After reading Acts 20, I challenged myself to connect with a teenager every day and create a Gospel connection with each of them.  This meant I had to have one on one connections with a different teenager every day.  This forced me to constantly seek opportunity, and pray for guidance toward these chances.  That challenged formed my ministry, changed my mindset, and is now my primary focus in youth ministry.  For many years, I was a volunteer youth leader at whatever church I was living near.  Now, I’m blessed to be able to work at ministry full time, but my heart is still in part time ministry.

Whether you are a youth leader, a parent, or just a church member, you can make ministry that spreads the gospel to youth by simply seeking to give the Gospel.  My goal with this site is to equip you with tools to make the big pieces easier so you can focus on making ministry: creating real, genuine Gospel connections through one on one interactions.

More on Making Ministry:

Making Ministry: Listening with Patience (Part 2)

Making Ministry: Healing the Hurt (Part 3) coming soon…