Thornapple Community Church becomes a Safe Families church

By February 10, 2015
(Photo courtesy of Bethany Christian Services)

(Photo courtesy of Bethany Christian Services)

USA (MNN) — In the state of Michigan, there are 14,000 children who share one thing in common: they are foster children.

14,000 children have had to leave their parents because of an illness, addiction, or abuse, or because their parents couldn’t keep a roof over their heads.

14,000 children had to leave their parents and start over with a new family assigned by the government.

Bethany Christian Services is introducing a different option.

They’re integrating a new program into their ministry called Safe Families for Children, which pairs ministries like Bethany with local churches to keep children out of the foster care systems. They give hope to families facing hard circumstances by providing safe, loving, Christian homes for children who need to be cared for.

“Safe Families provides an opportunity for a child not to go into a system, [but] to be cared for in a loving environment,” says Pastor Tim Dieffenbach, Minister of Congregational Life at Thornapple Community Church.

“We had several of our members who became interested in Safe Families…. They’ve formed a team around this, and we’ve begun the process of making Thornapple Church a lead church in the program.”

The Thornapple team is supporting host families from other churches, along with resources a host family might need: diapers, baby formulas, etc.

“Anything that would help make the experience for the host family more doable in their life,” explains Dieffenbach.

Right now, they are providing support for two families, and two other families in Thornapple Community Church are hosting. But, they’re working to provide more than physical support.

“We’re doing this from a Christian Faith base. [That means] children are going to come alongside of the families that are caring for them, and they’re going to participate in our church life,” Dieffenbach reports.

(Photo courtesy of Bethany Christian Services)

(Photo courtesy of Bethany Christian Services)

Safe Families for Children promotes acceptance of children and families, no matter what their background, social class, and life might look like.

“There’s an acceptance to see that child as a child of God, and made in God’s image,” says Dieffenbach.

“We’re going to embrace that child. They may still be on their journey of recognizing this within themselves, but that’s not a qualifier for us.”

You can show love to a struggling family. You can keep children and families together while they mend. And you can show them the love of God.

Learn more about Safe Families for Children here.


  • My husband and I were foster parents for two different teen boys and experienced the perils of the foster system that can’t be flexible enough to deal with individual children’s needs. One foster son was placed in the home of his counselor for a week or so when CPS needed a place for him to be and then after that they decided the counselor had a conflict of interest and they wouldn’t let him be the counselor any longer and he had been his counselor for 4 years. We were newly his foster parents and they made us take him to a counselor in a town nearly an hour’s drive away, vs. just a few minutes for the previous counselor. That new counselor tried to physically prevent the young man from leaving a counseling session and they got in a fight. At a time when the young man needed stability, it was removed by a bureaucracy that wasn’t able to do what’s best for the child. We had been working with the previous counselor ourselves prior to the placement and were counting on his help as we started the relationship with this young man we hoped to adopt. That help was removed and the placement failed after 2 1/2 months. It was very sad. The first young man we fostered was on his way to a forever family and that placement failed because they placed the young man in a family where he was the oldest child against the advice of the counselor. The damage to these children is great. They lose so much. No wonder they have a hard time attaching to people when they have lost so many who were important to them. I would love to see this sort of a program come to our church, Grace Community Church in Tyler, Texas.

  • Tim, great to hear you are doing Safe Family. Calvary Ref when I serve has been involved with it for 3+ years. We have had up to 7 families working together. My wife and I have hosted 16 kids in the past 3 years. Calvary has a fund which helps for out of pocket expenses such as diapers.

    Again it’s great to hear your church is involved. We need more faith people to step up. Greg

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