Over the last year, FaithE has reviewed a multitude of non-profit organizations in Billings with a goal of selecting a small few to become the church’s “local impact partners”. As a partner, we are consistently providing finances and we are (hopefully) consistently providing volunteers. The prayer is that we can walk alongside these organizations to truly make a supportive impact in the work they are doing.
Child Bridge (CB) was chosen as one of our partners and I have no doubt that together an impact is being made. I had the opportunity to spend time with Erin Thom, the outreach and support coordinator for CB in Billings, who also attends FaithE with her family. While the majority of our time together was spent keeping our four small children from injury while sledding down our 100 year-old stairs, we managed to have a bit of intentional conversation and get a few questions answered. What a GEM she is with a HUGE heart for the ministry she is in! Here we go.
Me: What does Child Bridge do?
Erin: We find and equip foster and adoptive families in Montana.
Me: How big of a need does Yellowstone County have?
Erin: Its huge. Its ridiculous. There are 1000 kids in the county currently in foster or kinship care, totaling 4000 for the state of Montana.
Me: What’s kinship care?
Erin: When a child is living with a relative or close family friend.
Me: How many families do you serve?
Erin: About 80 families are actively supported, meaning we talk to them at least monthly. Around 100 families attend our Resource Group.
Me: How long have you worked for CB and why?
Erin: Two and a half years. In January of 2016 I heard them speak at FaithE and just walked right up and asked, “Do you have a job?”
Me: That’s amazing. Tell me more!!
Erin: I had been working in mental health with kids for eight years and saw foster families have no support. I loved the mission of CB and that it had a faith component. They were doing what I wished I could’ve been doing.
Unbeknownst to me, Val Young (also from FaithE) had the Spirit move her to have the same conversation with them and we were able to create a position with each of us working part-time.
Me: What do you do on a daily basis?
Erin: I support foster and adoptive families by doing things like talking with them on the phone or praying with them. I also coordinate the Resource Group.
Me: How has working for CB changed you?
Erin: There are a lot of ways! I’ve learned a lot about who God is and how much the heart of God is communicated in foster and adoptive care. Just the way God loves us, unconditionally—not because we’ve earned it, and even when we resist it…that’s the love of a foster or adoptive parent. I’ve also learned how much my role is NOT to fix things.
Me: What are your greatest needs?
Erin: (without hesitation) Foster families. And people to come along side foster families. And people to volunteer at our Resource Group.
Also, we are funded only by people who believe in our mission, so we always need people to join the team and give financially to allow us to continue to do the work we are doing. **DONATE HERE!!**
Me: What’s the best way to get connected and serve?
It was short and to the point, leaving room for me to include a few more details…
Resource Group was mentioned repeatedly. I must emphasize that this group includes 100 FAMILIES, not individuals, but FAMILIES!! That’s a lot of people and hence the great need for a LOT of volunteers. If you only have two hours to give monthly, please consider this!! It’s the second Monday of every month from 6-8PM. During these evenings, foster and adoptive families are served dinner, child care is provided, speakers provide encouragement and training, and there is time for fellowship.
Deeply Loved. This kid-free retreat weekend for foster and adoptive moms just took place last month at a resort in Whitefish. It emphasizes that “we need each other to do what God has called us to do. You are deeply loved and are called to love deeply!” The women are invited to relax, rest, connect with other moms, and be encouraged. Below you will find a recap video of their amazing weekend!
National Adoption Month is recognized in November. It aims to bring awareness especially to the need for adoption of children in the foster care system. This year’s emphasis is on the adoption of teenagers, whom, according to the Children’s Bureau, are “less likely to be adopted, often because of their age, and are much more likely to age out of foster care without strong or stable family support.”
Stand Sunday will also be recognized this weekend, November 11th, as promoted by the Christian Alliance for Orphans to encourage others to “stand up” for kids in foster care.
If the work of Child Bridge tugs on your heart strings like it did on Erin’s, please don’t hesitate. CB needs you. Foster and adoptive families need you. As the body of Christ, we are to be His hands and feet.
To all the mommas already loving these dear children, you are in the hard places and I’m praying for you. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
And I’m praying for me. Lord, make me uncomfortable in the ways you see fit. Help me make more room for people, for commitments, for difficult situations. Thank you for the work of Child Bridge and its supporters. May these children get to see a glimpse of you on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.