Shondra was 21 years old with a 1-year-old daughter when she moved across state lines to escape abuse from her child’s father. She had no high school diploma, driver’s license, marketable skills, or family support. The meager wages she earned at a fast-food restaurant went mostly to child care until she eventually lost her job. For a year, she and her daughter shuttled from one homeless shelter to another.
Homeless, jobless, and with no apparent future for her or her daughter—this is a mother with limited options. This is a child at serious risk of being removed from her family. Can anything be done to keep them together?
James 2:14–16 challenges us as we consider at Shondra and other families like hers: “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” James poses a piercing question: “Can that kind of faith save anyone?”
Asking Better Questions
Bringing families together and keeping families together are two pillars of Bethany Christian Services’ work across the U.S. and around the world. Many know Bethany for our services that bring families together through adoption. We got our start in 1944 as a home for orphaned children. Over the years, Bethany began casting a wider net in our desire to “care for orphans . . . in their distress” (James 1:27). The “genuine religion” that verse describes encompasses not only the orphan but also the birth, adoptive, and foster families in that orphan’s life. It compels us to take a hard look at systems that leave families like Shondra’s vulnerable—resulting in more than one million abortions annually in the U.S., 400,000 children currently in foster care, and 151 million orphans worldwide.1