<- – -begin soapbox- – ->
“I don’t know what to do, my child is threatening to kill herself.”
“It’s so bizarre, my child is toileting everywhere but in the toilet. He’s 9.”
“I don’t know how much more I can take. The rages don’t seem to be getting better, and I’m exhausted.”
“I have secondary PTSD because of our placement.”
“Am I a bad parent? The behaviors seem to get worse instead of better.”
“I’ve tried almost every church in <insert major city>, and I can’t find one to help this family. They don’t need material things, they just need someone to show they care.”
These are all real life conversations I have with parents and counselors from all over the country on a regular basis. Usually when moms call me, they think they are crazy and that their situation is abnormal. They are the most isolated and discouraged group of people I have ever encountered, but they are also the bravest and strongest. They march on.
Here’s where it gets crazy. The majority of these families have church communities that have failed them–or even kicked them out. We, as a society, have also failed them, but I have much higher standards for churches since they have a mandate to care for these families.
You may be thinking, “Maybe they haven’t made their needs known.” True in some cases. This is a different soapbox, but suffice it to say that we didn’t really have to make our needs known when our daughter had surgery. People just flocked with support (meals, emails, phone calls, and a constant stream of in person questions about how she was doing…for months).
However, I know of families that have not only not been loved well but have actually been asked to leave the church because of their children.
I know of families who have been made to feel guilty for not serving in church during this season of their lives. Seriously!?!!? That would be like asking chastising someone who was the full-time caretaker for a terminal cancer patient to stop being selfish and sign up to teach Sunday School…ASAP.
There’s also this school of thought that says, “Well, if the church knew how to help, certainly they would.”
What if I told you there was a parent training course that would be a lifeline to post-placement families in crisis? In cities where it’s running, it’s giving hope to families by the hundreds. It’s keeping marriages together and kids in families. It saved our family.
What if I told you that we’ve been actively looking for our church to run this course in our city for more than 2 years without success. We actually offer to teach the training for free. All the churches need to do is provide space, quality childcare, and commit to supporting the families that come through training. From Gaithersburg to Hunt Valley, we have heard every excuse in the book.
Finding childcare is too hard. Because people are too busy driving to soccer practice to care? These families that need you aren’t going to soccer practice either because their child’s trauma makes it impossible.
I’m not sure we could commit to these families. You’re the church. Isn’t that your job?
There is not enough scripture in the curriculum. It doesn’t seem Christian enough. I’ll really get myself in trouble if I go here.
I’m stopping because each time I write another excuse, my blood pressure starts rising and the tears make it too hard to keep typing.
I had a major agency in Baltimore call me last week and ask when they could start getting help for their families because they’d heard such good things about this training. People, I was on a conference call with every.single.one. of their social workers. In one breath I had to tell them I believed the church had the hope (and training) their families needed, and in the next breath, I had to tell them the churches in Baltimore weren’t willing to step up to the plate. The church is literally standing between families in crisis and the hope that can save them. I’m using my city as an example, but I know this is pervasive across our country. What kind of evangelism is that?
Church, stop caring about how people park in your lot and start caring for the people in the car.
Church, stop holing yourself up in a multi-million dollar building. Go where the hurting people are. Be proactive.
Church, stop focusing on your comfort and convenience. Ask, “What has Jesus done?” It was neither comfortable nor convenient.
Church, take more breaks from book learning to do real-life application. That’s what we tell our teachers to do with our kids…they need less desk time and more experiences.
Church, take worship out of the box. We spend a lot of time sitting around singing and listening to sermons. That time should certainly not outweigh the time we spend reaching out to hurting families.
Church, instead of constantly preaching at people, take time to listen to their stories.
Church, families are calling, will you please pick up?
<- – -end soapbox- – ->