Life as we knew it changed on April 16, 2000.

That’s the night my husband, John, and I sat at a friend’s dinner table surrounded by five girls between the ages of 5 and 15. Some were adopted; others were there through foster care. She told us, “There are orphans right here in Hawaii who need adoptive families. The church really needs to get involved.”

When we prayed about it, we sensed God calling us to become foster parents. Eleven-year-old Angie arrived a few months later, and John and I were nervous but ecstatic. Surely this was going to be a happy-ending story, different from the harrowing tales our friend had told us.

By the end of month, though, we were wading through unprecedented darkness. Faced with her stealing, lying, cursing, and insults, we felt hopelessly unprepared and inadequate for the task at hand. Angie made the choice to leave our home for good, leaving John and I shell-shocked.

Looking back on that experience 15 years later, my own family makeup has shifted and so has the church’s involvement in foster care and adoption. And yet, I would still affirm that adoption and foster care remain unimaginably hard, and God is still calling the church to care for orphans.

A positive trajectory

In churches and ministries across the United States, evangelicals have responded to Scripture’s command to care for displaced children (James 1:27) like never before.

“A decade ago, the concept of the church having a dedicated ministry for orphans and children in foster care was generally rare outside of the occasional mission trip,” said Jason Weber, the director of foster care initiatives at the Christian Alliance for Orphans. “Today, if people don’t have a ministry like ...

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