USA (MNN) — Children often enter foster care when a state judge rules it is safer for a child to live in the foster care system rather than with their own parents.
However, because of the great need for foster families and most often the trauma and abuse these children have faced, teenage boys have the hardest time finding a placement.
These homes, run by Christian couples, are places for these young men to be loved, heal, be cared for, and find out what it means to have intentional relationships.
Chief Executive of Goshen Valley, Zach Bend explains, “Goshen, 15 years ago, opened its doors to the Goshen Valley Boys Ranch, which was the first of its many agencies. In the case of the boys’ ranch, it focused primarily on foster youth in the state of Georgia.”
But when Goshen Valley first began, it was only able to help six boys at the time. Then, about six or seven years into the organization’s work, it partnered with Family Christian through local contact.
Now, the organization helps 46 boys, all who live on the Goshen Valley property among the six different homes.
“It was at that time when Family Christian was looking for a domestic partner, where they could start to send their employees as missionaries to work with the foster children. Specifically, in this case here in Georgia, that was in alignment with what was known as the James Fund, which was started around the focus of serving the widow and the orphan,” Bend says.
Since then, Family Christian has been supporting Goshen Valley in a number of ways. For one, as Bend mentioned, Family Christian sends missionaries to work in these homes and impact these boys for Christ. Furthermore, through the support of its customers, Family Christian has also been able to financially support Goshen Valley in its various ministries.
But, most importantly, their partnership has made known to many the great needs faced in Georgia’s foster care system — for the Gospel, and for families or homes to take these boys in. And what this awareness has done is provide a network of people praying for these young men they’ve never met.
Goshen Valley tries to create as much normalcy for these young men as possible. Furthermore, these guys are required to attend public school, even if that means catching up in some areas. But, each of these boys are also equipped with a counselor to help them work through past trauma and figure out how to healthily move forward.
Now, with the support of Family Christian and so many others, Goshen Valley recently launched a new ministry aimed at young men and women ages 18 to 22, who are *still in foster care, but are pursuing a college education. The ministry, Goshen New Beginnings, is currently helping over 20 college aged youths.
Bend encourages, “Anyone who’s coming from perspective[s] of ministry or missions or child welfare, who would like to hear or learn or actually see about more of what we do, I would be happy to — over the phone or in person — spend time with folks who have an interest [in] maybe doing something like this wherever they are.”
And, for all those who might be interested in working with Goshen Valley to influence these young peoples’ lives for Christ, either through support or by volunteering, check out goshenvalley.org to learn more, especially if you’re in the Atlanta, Georgia area.
Yet, regardless of whether or not there’s a pull to serve, will you pray? Pray for the direct care staff at Goshen Valley. These people face many challenging and emotional situations on nearly a daily basis.
Pray for the individuals Goshen Valley works with, for them to hear the Gospel, for transformation, healing, and for these young adults to grow past the hard things they’ve faced in their lives.
Lastly, Bend has one final thought to leave readers with, and to conclude and explain what it means to be a child in foster care, and to watch a child living in foster care.
“When we first meet a young person, that young person often connects through their abandonment, their guilt, their fear, you know, the abuse and neglect that they faced in life. Rather than retreating from those circumstances, we’ve learn to embrace them (the kids). Not only embrace them, but embrace them with family, and therapy, and education, and service, and grace and mercy,” Bend shares.
“And when you do that, and you create an environment of those things for this young person, and then you see them live their lives differently, and start to understand themselves differently, and start to grow and start to create that confidence that they will overcome, we know that to be from burden to blessing.”
And isn’t that what the Gospel is about. Moving from a place burdened by sin, to a home with Jesus Christ, filled with grace’s blessings because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, that we all might be healed, sinless, and made perfect before God.
*In the state of Georgia, young adults can choose to remain in the foster care system until they are 21 if they pursue a college education.