When my husband Rich embraced Jesus’ invitation to serve as FMC’s Director of Development, we knew that would inevitably result in our being stationed stateside at Big Woods Mission. What we didn’t know were the particular ways in which God would draw us deeper as missionaries here on home turf, or should I say, within our very own home itself? Last August, we had just arrived back to Big Woods after a short-term mission trip to General Cepeda when the Lord began to significantly challenge us and move our hearts to consider fostering children. The call to foster care and adoption had previously been like a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit, a soft whisper we’d hear occasionally. Suddenly, however, it was undeniable. The more we sought the Lord, the more intensely He revealed His heart in this regard. In his epistle, St. James says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27). Through Sacred Scripture, we came to understand orphan care as not simply the calling of a small few but rather a command, a matter of obedience versus disobedience, a discipleship issue, and so on and so forth. On the night before we began pre-service training to become certified foster parents in the state of Louisiana, Rich was getting cold feet and threw himself before the Lord in prayer, only to be brought to Sirach 4:10: “Be like a father to orphans…” And the rest is history! We put our hands to the plow with no turning back.
After completing the training, passing the home study, and obtaining our certification, we immediately received our first placement. We welcomed a 15-year-old girl and her newborn son into our hearts and our home while they transitioned out of the hospital. It was a privilege to walk with our foster daughter during her first moments and days as a young mother. More importantly, we were blessed with the opportunity to evangelize her during her short stay with us. In mid-March, we received the call for our second placement and welcomed a young sibling group of two into our home. Immediately, we were a family! Except for one thing: we were missing somebody. You see, our kids had a brother who was placed in a different foster home. We were blessed to meet this little boy at the first court hearing, which also happened to be the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the foster father of baby Jesus! Upon witnessing the little boy reunite with his siblings, I immediately burst into tears. Within a couple of days, we told DCFS that we were willing to do whatever it took in order to keep the siblings together. Praise the Lord, people donated to us the necessary beds and we rearranged the house in order that we could take him in too! Truly, we have witnessed miracle after miracle these past few months. Most recently, our kids’ biological mom gave us permission to get the children baptized in the Catholic Church and she asked us to be the godparents of all three. We drove four hours so that she could attend the baptisms of her children, and her incredible openness to Christ and His Church is quite obviously the work of the Holy Spirit. We marvel at the special grace at work in her relationship with us; the Lord has revealed to us the compassion He has for her, and we have come to consider ourselves honored to walk with and disciple this woman amidst the messiness of her situation. Jesus really does break into the mess and make all things new.
In the words of evangelical speaker and orphan care activist Jason Johnson, “Foster care and adoption are personal megaphones through which we can publicly tell the world what we believe about God… In the Gospel, God says, ‘I see you where you are and I’m coming after you!’ Foster care and adoption are beautiful echoes of that same declaration.”
My husband and I have been blown away by the opportunities for evangelization that have arisen as a result of saying “yes” to Jesus’ invitation to foster at-risk children. The story of God’s saving love has been shared with the children themselves, their biological family, and even our own families; in a striking way, the story has also been shared anew with our community and with us.
Big Woods Mission
Rachel MastrogiacomoMission page: mastrogiacomofamily.familymissionscompany.com
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