A friend of mine recently told me about an intriguing and exciting non-profit, Safe Families for Children (SFC).
It is a ministry serving families who need temporary care for their children, utilizing a network of churches to find caretakers for those children. According to the SFC website, there are nine hundred volunteers in the Chicago area alone.
Many of the authors of IFWE’s recent book, For the Least of These: A Biblical Answer to Poverty, point out the need for the church to take an active role in fighting poverty.
SFC is one way churches are taking on such a role. It’s an example of ways the Christian community can fulfill an institutionalized caretaker role for the broader community.
How It Works
Here’s how SFC works:
- According to their website, if you are interested in becoming a part of the network you fill out an interest form and go through a verification and certification process. This process includes training, background checks, and letters of recommendation.
- After host families are accepted into the network, SFC will then place a child in need in their home.
- There are also ways for churches to become involved as promoters, resource providers and support representatives for the host families.
As I learned more about SFC, I was struck by the many parts necessary to make this diverse network function at its full potential.
What Freedom Makes Possible
First, the services of SFC are made possible by a community compelled by supernatural love to help those around them.
God commanded the Israelites to care for the alien, the orphan and the widow throughout the Old Testament. It was a communal effort. Authors on this blog have discussed this point extensively as well.
Second, a framework of freedom makes it possible for Christians to get involved with this ministry and maintain it to the best of their abilities. For example:
- Volunteer families need to have the resources necessary to care for a child. These resources can be depleted by a variety of factors, including potentially over-burdening economic regulations and taxes. Simply put, regulations, even the necessary ones, are not without cost, and high taxes can limit the amount of money families can spend on charitable activities of their choosing.
- Technology impacts the success of this ministry. Using email and the internet, more people are able to find out about SFC than might have otherwise. Those who are interested in donating can do that from anywhere. A framework of freedom allowed the internet and affiliated technology to get to the point it has.
Is It Truly Helping?
In thinking about the freedom necessary for organizations like SFC to succeed, it’s worth remembering that in any church-run organization there will be mistakes, just like in government.
But both types of organizations are filled with well-meaning, caring people. As often happens with SFC, the government is doing well by passing along information about SFC to parents who need help caring for their children.
A sound approach to poverty isn’t just about “replacing government programs.” It’s about caring for people and helping them when they most need it. It’s important to ask, whatever the program, government or not: Is it truly helping people and society?
In a society free and unencumbered by over-burdensome regulations, able to take full advantage of the benefits technology has to offer, and motivated by an objective loving Truth, good things will happen even to “the least of these among us.”