Category Archives: adoption

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5 reasons why Adoption Sunday Matters

Last year we were delighted to have 200 churches take part in the UK’s first ever national Adoption Sunday . This year on 2nd of November we’d love to see 300 join in. Here are 5 reasons we’d love you and your church to take part.

1. Our adoption into God’s family is such a wonderful privilege.

I can think of no higher privilege than knowing that we are welcomed into God’s family through the sacrificial death of God’s own son. Strangely we hardly ever talk about it – here’s an opportunity to remind every Christian that they are adopted and why that matters.

2. The church is called to care for vulnerable children

Caring for the needy is not something that the church can outsource. God told his people what kind of religion he is looking for  “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” James 1.27 (cf Isaiah 1 too).  So we the church cannot abdicate our responsibility of caring for those in need – particularly the most vulnerable: children and the elderly. 

3. Our nation has 6000 children who need a forever family

It is a national shame that 6000 children are left behind in the care system and deemed “hard to place” – as the adopted people of God  adoption should be at the heart of what we do as churches. Adoption Sunday is a way to put this need in front of the whole church.

4. We need to change the church’s imagination on adoption

Adoption and fostering is not on the radar for many Christians – its seen to be someone else’s problem. If we are going to help the church get a vision for finding families to step up to the challenge and also to help the rest of the church family to wrap around and support them. We need to expose people that don’t yet know they are interested to the challenge and opportunities. So by taking part in adoption Sunday we help to shape the imagination of the whole church on this issue.

5.  If we say we care about justice we must care about children in care

I am delighted the church is stepping up to engage with poverty through things like Street Pastors, CAP, Foodbank and Prison ministry. This is wonderful. There are wonderful examples of these initiatives leading to deep and meaningful relationships. But sadly sometimes this can be limited to a passing acquaintance with the poor when we serve them as clients at a drop in centre. Fostering and adoption takes things to another level where the poor become family with us. The poor stop being an anonymous passing crowd – but instead become little Jonny that we share our breakfast with, little Shabira who comes on holiday with us, or Ali who we help to find a job when he leaves school.

Here’s what you can do

- sign up for the FREE ADOPTION SUNDAY PACK
-
 look out of the new Home for Good video coming our later in the summer – here’s last year’s as a taster.

- spread the word so that more churches get involved this year so we can find more homes for children that need them.

Will your church be taking part in Adoption Sunday 2014? from Evangelical Alliance on Vimeo.

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This man is a legend

There are some guys you meet and you know you are going to be friends for a long time, Phil is one of those kinds of guys. He is the kind of guy you want on your pub quiz team not only is he brilliant at banter but he knows his 1980s music trivia.

Phil works as a teacher in his local secondary school. He’s an avid music fan and has spent his youth writing to music magazines and going to concerts. Phil helped to set up and run an innovative youth programme called Kidzclub in Liverpool which saw hundreds of children; many from challenging backgrounds coming together for fun, games and to discover more about the Christian faith. Phil’s wife Helenor works as a solicitor and for social services and felt called to make a difference with many of the children she was working with in her job by becoming a foster carer. Phil admits that he had no plans to become a foster carer but initially got involved because of his wife’s enthusiasm. 3 years in and Phil believes fostering is one of the best things he has done in his life so far. He gets a real buzz knowing that the love he is able to pour into the lives of the foster children in his care has such an impact on their lives. Saying goodbye as foster children move on to adoption is one of the toughest parts of the foster carer’s roles but when sadly one of their children’s adoption broke down Phil and his wife have decided to step forward to adopt him. Phil and Helenor are spreading the word about fostering and adoption by running a city wide initiative to encourage more Christians to think about adoption and fostering – called Home for Good Liverpool.

You can hear Phil speaking here:

Father’s Day 2014: You know what a foster carer looks like, don’t you? from Evangelical Alliance on Vimeo.

 

Phil is going to be on local radio stations across the UK on Sunday; Father’s Day speaking about being a foster dad and the Home for Good campaign. Tune in and cheer him on!

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Local Hero

When I arrived at his house I had to double check the address. This was a very rough part of town and I was going to meet a High Court Judge. But Sir Mark Hedley is no ordinary judge. 

He has lived in a poor part of Liverpool for over 45 years having arrived  in the city i to study law. at Liverpool University.  Mark  became a Barrister in 1969 and right from the start developed a passion to help people who find it difficult to get access to justice. He helped to set up a free legal advice centre in the area and moved his family into the area sending his children to local state schools. He  sought to live out his Christian beliefs by living and serving in one of the less affluent parts of Liverpool.

He was appointed as a circuit judge for the Northern Circuit in 1992 and then he served as a High court judge from 2002 until 2013.

Mark and his wife Erica felt called to become foster carers and now have more than 30 years of experience. They had birth children that grew up alongside the children they fostered and they have ended up adopting two of their foster children who had additional needs.

I was impressed from the moment I met Sir Mark. Here is a man who cares passionately about his local area, who wants to turn his Christian confession into Christian service whatever the cost.

Mark breaks so many of the stereo types that I come across when I mention the words “fostering” to men. People seem to think fostering is for working class people or that it is somehow “women’s work” Sir Mark Hedley, High Court Judge and local hero breaks all of those stereotypes – maybe you should think about changing your views on who can foster? Is it something you are called to do?

Check out this inspiring film of men who are making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children. See here for more information.

Father’s Day 2014: You know what a foster carer looks like, don’t you? from Evangelical Alliance on Vimeo.

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Fathers for the Fatherless

Fathers Day is a great marketing opportunity for pen knife manufacturers , greeting card producers and mens hosiery. It’s not an age old festival having only been created in the 20th century to complement Mother’s Day but I want to make a plea that we need to make the most of it .

I know it can be a sensitive time for people who have grown up without a Dad or even worse with an abusive father. I know it can be difficult for single people and childless couples who may be mourning the lack of opportunity to be a father. But nevertheless I want to make a plea that we make the most of it this weekend. Here are three reasons:

1. God is our Father

Despite their being some terrible father’s in the Bible story God is not ashamed to call himself a Father. The problem comes when we project our experience onto God – for example someone might say – “I had a terrible father so God must be like my dad.” That way of thinking is not a helpful way to approach God  - God is not just a projection or an extension of our understanding of things. God is the defining centre.  So God sets the example of what true Fatherhood is like, just like Jesus sets the example of what true humanity is like.  This Sunday we should take the time to enjoy and celebrate what it means for all of us to know God as our Father and offer everyone the opportunity to get to know him.

2. It’s not too late to become a father

Of course if you are going to talk about the Fatherhood of God that is something that every Christian can claim only because of God’s adoption of us. We have been given the right through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection on our behalf.

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”

Galatians 4:4-5

God’s decision to adopt us into his family was driven not by any inner need in the godhead but rather was driven God’s compassion for our plight as vulnerable children (see Galatians 4:3-4). In the same way with so many children waiting in care for adoption – 100 000 children in the USA ; 30 000 in Canada and 6000 in the UK. There are plenty of opportunities for us to become an adoptive or father or at least to offer support to others who are seeking to foster or adopt vulnerable children.

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Spike was a Tornado Squadron leader now works as a Airline Pilot and Foster dad.

3. God calls us all to care for the Fatherless

Having been loved by God with unconditional adopting love. Should we not pass this grace and privilege on to others? God describes himself as “Father to the Fatherless” so those of us who claim to be his followers should be prepared to be the same for the Fatherless children in our neighbourhoods? Please help us to spread the word about this through our Father’ day church resource pack. 

Men, this Sunday as we celebrate Father’s Day, as we recognise God’s Fatherly love to us would you consider playing your part in a vulnerable child’s life?

Take a look at this little video on what it means to be a foster father.

Father’s Day 2014: You know what a foster carer looks like, don’t you? from Evangelical Alliance on Vimeo.

 

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Make the Most of Father’s Day

There are so many children waiting in care for a father in their lives.  Some have had to be removed from their parents because of neglect or abuse. Some have never known a father’s love. This father’s day help us to inspire men to step forward to make a difference to vulnerable children lives.

I spend a lot of my time  travelling the UK speaking with churches about the need but also the clear biblical mandate for us to care for the vulnerable in our communities. Every where I go I meet women who are ready to become foster or adoptive parents but sadly their husbands are hesitant or even opposed to the idea. We made this little video and the accompanying service pack to help inspire men to think about this differently.

It would help us to help the vulnerable children in the UK if you can encourage your church to take part in our campaign this Father’s Day. After the fantastic response we had this Mother’s Day we want to help churches to make the most of Father’s Day. There’s a whole suite of  free resources for you to download – just click the link to sign in and get the resources. Then let us know how your church got on with them. Thanks for joining with us; with your help we can make sure that every child that needs one in the UK can find a Home for Good.

You may want to give money to help with the start up costs of the Home for Good new charity – click here to give whatever you can. 

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Home for Good Liverpool

I have spent a lot of time up in Liverpool recently. It’s been great to see Home for Good Liverpool taking off up there thanks to the support of Frontline Church, Bridge Chapel and Liverpool Lighthouse.  Helenor and Phil Watson and Si and June Valentine are local heroes doing a brilliant job pulling things together. They have some big meetings coming up so please pray for their work across the city. The aim is to help find all the foster carers and adoptive carers that the city needs so that every vulnerable child finds a permanent and loving home.

More and more of these Home for Good city and town hubs are picking up thanks to the inspirational work of Home for Good Southampton which saw unprecedented numbers of families from churches stepping forward for fostering. Since the Southampton example we have seen things  begin to develop in Reading, Leamington , Doncaster, Leeds, Bristol, Bath and many more towns across England. We’d love to see more so let us know if a city or town wide initiative where the church takes the lead in finding homes for vulnerable children through fostering and adoption is something you can help us get going where you are.

Today I spent the day filming for the Home for Good Father’s Day initiative. I got to meet some amazing people from the city including Mark and Erica Hedley a very inspirational couple. I will give you more details closer the time. But it was great to be able to coincide the visit with the Hillsborough Memorial Football game and to do some photography at Anfield. Huge thanks to Mark and Sue Wright and Liverpool Football club for making that possible. I was with Rob Purbrick a fantastic photographer and film maker who gave up his bank holiday to help spread the word about the need for vulnerable children to find foster and adoptive homes.

I will give you further news of the Father’s Day material as soon as I can, but you might want to reserve a 5 minute slot in your church service so that we can help find Foster Father’s for the children in care in your town. Thank to everyone for their help !

Michael Owen
still a class act, Michael Owen was in good form today
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recognise anyone here?
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sooo excited I forgot to open my eyes

 

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All out at All Souls

Just on my way home from a lovely evening with All Souls Church, Langham Place.  It was a very moving evening with testimonies from a young man who was adopted aged 8 now working at All Souls Church, an adoption social worker who works for a London borough and a High Court Judge who is often making difficult choices about whether to remove children from at risk families or not.  Mark Meynell was in fine form preaching up a storm on God’s heart for the vulnerable and God’s heart for adoption. I had the opportunity to call for a practical response to the pressing need for more adoptors and foster carers.

It was no accident that we were doing this on Mother’s Day as churches across the UK used our Mother’s Day material to help spread a vision for finding homes for the vulnerable children in our towns and cities.

In the time after the service I met two people who had grown up as orphans – one abandoned by his family in a Romanian orphanage another older lady who spent the first part of her life on the streets of Columbia learning how to fight for survival. Both told me about how the church had become a family to them and now both want to help make a difference for vulnerable young people.

 

view from the pulpit at All Souls
view from the pulpit at All Souls

As a student All Souls Langham Place was a place that loomed large in my imagination. The Rev Dr John Stott was the rector there and was churning out a whole of string of books that formed my understanding of what it means to be a Christian. His books Issues facing Christians Today, The Cross of Christ, The Bible Speaks Today on 2 Timothy, Romans and Acts was the incubator for my understanding of biblical theological, biblical exegesis and how to develop a generous confidence in the gospel. So what an honour it was to be speaking at John Stott’s home church. Stott represented to me the centre ground of evanglelicalism. He was confident about the core of the gospel and yet remained gracious and hospitable in the way that he related those he disagreed with. It seemed like a fitting place to be revealing that Home for Good is soon to become it’s own charity. Birthed from the Evangelical Alliance we look to help the church live out the gospel with respect to the vulnerable children in our communities. Home for Good aims to unite evangelicals from across the different streams: we have had the privilege to be given stage time at:

Acts 29 European leaders event,
Pioneer leaders conference,
New Testament Church of God of Prophecy Midlands conference
Praise Chapel

We are also going to be at both Spring Harvest and Word Alive because we recognise that wherever you are from the evangelical world “caring for widows and orphans” is part of the church’s DNA. We recognise it is going to take the whole church pulling together to meet the need across the UK. That if we the church step up to the challenge to find foster and adoptive homes for everyone that needs it we make a huge difference in the lives of children from difficult backgrounds but we will also give the nation a mini parable of the adopting love of God.

We’d love your prayer and support as we enter this exciting new stage.  Please drop me a message below so we can keep you informed on how things are going at this exciting time for the UK church.

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We wanted to help someone…

Claire is a fighter. She doesn’t give up easily and its a good thing too. Claire is definitely someone you want on your side when the going gets tough.  I have seen Claire in action – its because of her tenacity  championing the needs of children in care that Care for the Family got excited about Home for Good.

Claire’s adoption story is  a powerful one, it should come with a health warning. Claire and her husband Alan, already had three birth children when they felt lead to adopt a child with additional needs. Watch it if you want to be inspired and challenged, skip it if you like playing things safely.

 

Claire’s story – Mother’s Day 2014 from Evangelical Alliance on Vimeo.

Help us make the most of Mother’s Day this year by putting the need for 6000 children who are waiting for adoption in front of the UK church. Watch this video then share it as widely as you can.

Claire and Alan’s story features in the Home for Good book.

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Rachel used to avoid Mothers Day services…

Rachel and Jason have been dear friends since we were in a church together in Harrow.  Rachel told me recently that Mothers’ Day was a really difficult day for her as she and Jason had been trying for a child for some time. Rachel explained to me that  she would either not turn up at church at all that day or try to stay out of sight helping out in creche or youth ministry on that day.

With Mothers Day coming up this weekend, its important for those of us in church leadership to be careful about how we handle the pastoral implications of this day. But it is also important we put before the church the need to find adoptive mums for the 6000 waiting children in the UK. Many of these children have experienced some pretty terrible things in their lives already and to keep them waiting for a new mum seems to be adding insult to injury.  We must handle mother’s day sensitively but we cannot let the needs of the children in our towns, villages and cities go unheard.

One way you can help is to watch Rachel’s powerful story, share it as widely as you can and if possible show one of our Home for Good Mother’s Day videos in a church service or small group meeting.

This is Rachel’s first Mothers’ Day as an adoptive Mum. Lets pray for more adoptive mums like Rachel can celebrate Mothers’ Day next year with their children . With your help we can make a difference to all the #6000waiting.

 

Rachel’s story – Mother’s Day 2014 from Evangelical Alliance on Vimeo.

See also Dianne’s story.

Check out the Home for Good book, which also features Rachel and Jason’s story.
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