Working with children and teens in foster care has changed my view of spirituality. More specifically, it has altered the way that I approach sharing my faith. I have learned traditional evangelism. I know and have shared the Gospel with people by way of “you’ve sinned, Jesus died, repent, be saved”. I believe God’s Word when it says that when you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord He will forgive your sins. It seems that in my current job there would be many opportunities to share this Gospel with those who do not know, and I deeply desire for all of our children to come to know the Christ I serve.
But it’s not that simple.
As I always do, looking through the eyes of our kids, it suddenly makes spirituality seem a bit different than I’m used to. A lot of times when I would be otherwise blatantly speaking glory to God, I catch myself short. At first I was bothered by this. I am not ashamed of my relationship with Christ, and I never plan to be. I normally have no problem pausing to pray or speaking with Scripture and Truth. Why is it then that when I am living amongst those that can be called nothing more than “the least of these” is it the hardest to be bold and courageous?
I am beginning to figure it out though. When I speak about my faith, it is with God’s promises. When I share my most treasured attributes of Him, it is of His love, comfort, and protection. It is easy for me to believe those qualities and have faith in the things that God has promised His children.
But I’ve always been safe. I’ve never been abused or left alone or threatened. I have experienced scary things, but I had an underlying foundation of security and trust. I knew where to get help and who could help me. My brain developed in a healthy environment with mostly proper nurturing, food, and education. Words like love, family, comfort, father, home, kindness, discipline, care, safety, and compassion hold good or neutral memories and feelings. I quickly relate all those things to my Heavenly Father. It comes easy to me.
Our kids rarely have a positive view of safety, family, and trust. And that is so very justified.But I dare not introduce them to Jesus through ways that have hurt my kids. I don’t want them to associate their bad memories with their relationship with God. With the deep hurts, scars, and trauma that foster kids experience, I want them to know deep within their being that God was and is right there with them. They can have a relationship with God and have the struggles that they do. But it is so difficult to explain to a child and a victim, that God was still with them in the midst of their pain and abuse. It seems that in this society, the history and labels of kids with anxiety and trauma could somehow make them less of a person or less of a Christian. When, in fact, it almost makes them more. It has been more effective to cry with a child and to tell them that God is crying with us, that He is so sad about their situation too than it has been to have our kids memorize scripture and recite it.
So, I have to find a different way to tell that about Christ. And I’ve figured it out: Action. Living out what I promise. Showing what Love is. Being practical. Not being overly spiritual with them. Not discussing their feelings about their relationship with God.Before I can say 1 word about God, these kids need to see days and weeks of practical steps of love, care, and safety. THAT is sharing my faith. THAT is a Gospel in which they can find healing and hope. Jonathon and I make it clear to all of our kids that we love and serve Jesus. We will often tell them that we take care of them because God takes care of us. But then that’s it. We let them lead with their own questions and wonderings after that. We let them experience a loving God in a safe environment. No pushing.
Sharing our faith and our God is easy and difficult all in the same moment.