Forever Families of Canada launches
Join Harold and Wendi Park, May 21-22, prior to Together for Adoption Canada 2015
Can you keep a secret? Here’s one that you don’t have to keep. We are excited to let you in on what God has been birthing in Canada for vulnerable children. It’s a network! Forever Families of Canada is a Christian non-profit network for churches, organizations and families to get connected, equipped and mobilized for the common good of children. The world of foster care, adoption and family preservation comes with unique challenges and opportunities for healing. Think of Forever Families of Canada as a way of connecting the dots between isolated local efforts to become national collaborations and supports.
We (Harold and Wendi Park), never imagined that we would be starting a national network. Loving the ministries that we were in – as counselling pastor and executive director while raising our two biological children (one boy, one girl) – our life was complete. Or so we thought. But our world was turned upside-down unexpectedly in November 2011 on a family trip to South Korea, when we happened to attend an “orphan Sunday” there. We had never heard of this topic in our Canadian church experience, nor grappled with the theological implications of our adoption story in Christ. God grabbed hold of our hearts: we both awoke with the same vivid dream that night to get involved, and God has been leading us deeper into this ministry ever since.
While pursuing adoption for our family, our eyes were opened to the needs within our nation – we felt particularly burdened for the mobilization and collaboration of the Church across Canada. We saw foster and adoptive families struggling to be understood by their church. Church frequently was not a safe place to find healing. We also discovered ministries and resources that were untapped by those who could benefit from them. We observed how churches desired to care for vulnerable children and their families, but were not equipped to do so. Our hearts grew bigger for the Canadian Church and we realized that God was inviting us on a journey of faith.
Throughout Scripture and history, it has been the Church that has cared for orphaned children and fragile families. But within the last century in Canada, the Church has by and large abdicated this Biblical mandate and has left social services to fill in. As much as government is vital and necessary, government isn’t called to parent waiting children – we believe the Church is. There is a need for a stronger theological foundation be laid so that care becomes more than philanthropy. Imagine if each local church was connected, appropriately equipped and mobilized to care for vulnerable children. Imagine the Church speaking into government policy and being part of the solution, being part of the restoration that our nation needs, being family to children and helping families be restored. We believe God desires this.
To align ourselves to where God was leading us involved major personal life adjustments. We resigned our jobs, began welcoming new family members into our home, and embarked on a God-chasing trip through western Canada, Ontario and parts of the United States. Along the way, we’ve encountered too many miracles of provision and “ah ha” moments to mention in this article, but suffice it to say, God has been faithful – and then some.
The cool thing is, we have found that we are not alone! We have discovered along the way Christian families and organizations across Canada who have also expressed this desire for churches to be connected, equipped and mobilized to effectively care for waiting kids. These have not just been notions of social activism, but evidently the Holy Spirit has been sweeping across our nation and stirring the hearts of the people to rise up and do something. You might be one of them!
We have been particularly blessed by meeting Wendy Kittlitz (Focus on the Family Canada) as well as Kristjen and Tamara Hull (ABBA Canada) whose prayerful desire for this type of ministry preceded our intense burden to fill this huge gap we were discovering. They organically became our board as, together, we prayed through and took steps forward in the development of Forever Families of Canada. We’ve also been blessed to have the ongoing mentorship and collaboration of the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) Global Movement Initiative.
The mission statement of Forever Families of Canada is “to facilitate greater capacity in the Canadian Church to effectively care for waiting children through national networking, education and local leadership development.”
We recognize that the local church is the hope of the world, and that ministry happens in the context of grassroots initiatives when the Holy Spirit stirs people to get involved in the lives of waiting children. We are not establishing an enterprise to take care of the crisis, or trying to franchise our efforts throughout local churches via some sort of formula or guilt-ridden plea for children. God is already stirring hearts within His Church. We simply want to be a catalyst to channel people to organizations like Focus on the Family Canada. The Church in Canada has a long way to go, and we hope to equip it for the journey.
Forever Families of Canada plans to officially launch at the Together for Adoption Canada 2015 conference, to be held in Maple Ridge, BC, May 22-23. We are excited to be hosting the pre-conference leadership forum “Collaborate Canada” with special guests from CAFO on May 21-22. We hope you will consider joining us and other national and local leaders from across the country to forge new connections, find inspiration in exchanging best practices, and gather resources key to fuelling thriving, locally-led initiatives. At the conference, Forever Families of Canada will be presenting more comprehensive information as well as facilitating strategic working groups to learn from leaders how we can serve you most effectively.
We’d love to hear from you and we look forward to an ongoing collaborative relationship with the fine folks at Focus on the Family Canada.