Last Sunday, I talked with our Church Council about an exciting new opportunity for us to become a partner with the Grayson County CPS Rainbow Room. They welcomed this new opportunity with open hearts, and I am excited to tell you more about how this came to be and how we can be in ministry with them.
As a church family, we have been a long-time partner with UMCOR as we have served as a drop off location for our region. We collect supplies and then deliver them to UMCOR Depots. However, this need is not a constant thing. We go long periods of time without any mission to do. For the past few months, God has put on my heart a desire to look for other ways we can engage in mission as a church family.
For the past two years, Laura’s heart and mine have been connected to CPS (Child Protective Services) through Oliver and now Noah and Hannah. As a church, you have been right there alongside us. As we have been their foster parents, you have been their foster church. As we have worked tirelessly to fill them with the love and support they need to recover, you have also been filling them with the love of God. And for the way you have welcomed them and loved them, I could not be more proud of a church. And as we near our adoption day, we are also coming nearer the day they will be officially adopted into the family of God. I can’t wait for that celebration!
In all of this wonderfulness, Laura and I have made a lot of connections and learned a lot about Foster Care in North Texas. We have been working with our agency as they have been trying to expand to Grayson and Fannin County. There is a HUGE need for more foster homes in Grayson and Fannin Counties. In June of 2019, Grayson County had 112 children (0-17) in care, 10 of them are placed in Grayson County. That’s only 8.9%. We also remember the night when Noah and Hannah came. Hannah didn’t have shoes and Noah came with clothes which to this day are too big for him.
These connections led me to contact the Grayson County Rainbow Room as a possible mission partner. For those who do not know, Rainbow Rooms are in most CPS Offices. They are rooms that are open 24/7 and are filled with clothes, toys, and other things that children need when they come into care. Children are usually coming from unsafe places where they have been neglected and usually come with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. Rainbow Rooms are not funded by the state and rely upon donations. When I started having conversations with the Grayson County Rainbow Room coordinator, I asked her if there were any gaps, things that they didn’t get donated often. She had me come up and see the room to get an idea. When we toured the room, it was full of all kinds of things, but then she showed me the gaps. On the diaper shelf, size N, 1, and 2 were overflowing. The diaper shelves for size 3-6 were bare. She said, “No one donates the larger sizes, ever.” On the clothes racks, there was what looked like an entire store-full of baby and newborn clothes and then maybe 6 outfits for kids 4 and up.
While we were talking, the coordinator also shared that they were about to move into a new building. I asked if they needed anything for that, so she took me down the hall to the CPS Supervisor (who happened to be an old youth-parent from Sherman, small world). They are moving into their new building at the beginning of September (on Loy Lake at Lambeth rd). In their new building, they are going from 2 visitation rooms to 8. The state said they only had money for plastic folding table and chairs for each room.
My friends, we can do better. In all of this, we can do better. We can do better than having gaps in diapers and clothes, and we can do better than plastic folding tables and chairs.
In my heart, I feel as if this partnership as been nearly two years in the making, but as a church family, I think we can work in mission to make a difference in the lives of children in our county, for they are our children, our responsibility. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40
Here is where our partnership is heading:
1. CPS Office: There is an immediate need at the new CPS office to furnish rooms. There are three different levels at the new office, infant rooms, young child rooms, and older children/teen rooms. I said we would at least furnish one room if not more, so don’t let me down. We will be raising money for this, so if you would like to help, please donate towards this. Children in foster care have already been neglected enough, so we don’t need our children visiting their bio-families in neglected rooms.
2. On-going Rainbow Room Partnership: The original intent of my conversations was to be in an on-going partnership with the Rainbow Room to fill the gaps. Once they are all moved in, we will be collecting items to help fill the gaps in the Rainbow Room. Each month, we will be raising the specific items they need to fill gaps so all the children who come into care will have something.
That is where we are heading with this new opportunity. We will have a fund you can give to that will help furnish rooms. You can also come with me to buy, deliver, and install whatever we can get. You will also be given the Rainbow Room’s most needed list so you can make purchases to help fill their gaps. But most importantly, I ask that you all be in prayer for the children in our community who are abused and neglected. Pray for children in foster care. Pray also for this new ministry and mission partnership.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Zack <><