A few times a year, we get the privilege to train volunteer leaders to launch new TFI ministries whose aim is to bridge the gap that exists between churches and foster care agencies. These leaders, our TFI Advocates, share the vision of seeing people everywhere supporting the foster care community and experiencing Jesus together.
(In fact, throughout the month of May, which is National Foster Care Awareness Month, applications are open for you to become a TFI Advocate. This only happens twice a year, so now is the time to take a look at the details and apply!)
Their role as TFI Advocates is to stand in the gap. They listen and learn from agency workers. They hear what it’s like to sit in the role of an agency worker. They ask questions about how the church could step in with support for foster parents, vulnerable adults, children, and the agency workers themselves.
They listen and learn from church leaders. They show up for the church, getting to know the strengths of churches and what gets them excited about stepping into this space of loving their neighbors. Our TFI Advocates build relationships, and from those relationships, they create pathways for the church to grow in its understanding of foster care and to walk alongside the agency, thereby supporting the foster care community.
They are passionate. They want to be part of raising awareness, providing encouragement, and growing advocacy in this foster care space. They love Jesus. And they are motivated by His love in their own lives.
If you can’t tell, we’re really proud of them!
With all that in mind, meet our five newest TFI Advocates as they share why they are stepping in:
Abby Callison | Mason City, IA
“I don’t believe that every follower of Christ needs to be a foster parent, but I do believe every believer can play a part in serving the foster community. Based on Scripture, we have a responsibility to care for those in need. Having churches being thought of as places of refuge and love in times of need and hurt for vulnerable children would be transformative in our community. There is a big need for foster care resources. My desire is to bridge the gap between the agencies that need the help and the churches that want to step into the world of foster care. I want to be apart of helping agency workers look at churches as places of refuge not only for themselves, as their jobs are greatly taxing, but also for the families that they work with.” – Abby Callison
Abby Snow | Champaign, IL
“I desire to serve others in the foster care and adoption world. I have seen different families in my home church adopt, and this is what inspired me to pursue a degree in social work. I would love to use my advocacy, listening skills, and resource connection for the body of Christ. I want to help the Church and the community. I believe it is the perfect way for the Church to serve the world. Churches should use involvement in the foster care community to love the orphans and widows mentioned in the Bible. I believe serving in this community involves living out your faith and loving others because of the Gospel.” – Abby Snow
Hanna Thrower | Butler County, AL
“I see that several churches in the community in which I foster and live have expressed interest in helping with foster care, but they just are not sure how to do this. However, my family sees the need firsthand as a foster family. I want others to know why it is that I do what I do and how they can help as well. I am excited to tell others about Christ and His love through foster care. I believe that we can walk alongside birth families to help prevent children reentering into foster care through love, support, and intentionality.” – Hanna Thrower
Jennifer Bathurst | Kingwood, TX
“I can’t help but think of how the early Christians in the book of Acts would be noted for their sacrifice, kindness, generosity, and service to others—especially to those who are marginalized. Much to the example of Jesus, I want myself and my local church to search for those who need a helping hand, a listening ear, a tangible need, or a meal. I want us to be known for service for others, especially the vulnerable. I want us to be known for the love that we show others and genuine love for the community we live and work. By stepping in to support the foster care community, we are able to live out the gospel—to meet physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, doing so by connecting social workers, struggling families, or families that need support with their current placements or resources.” – Jennifer Bathurst
Leigh Ellen Barkley | Madison County, AL
“The beginning of James 1:27 says, ‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…’ This verse is highlighted in every Bible that I have owned since I was a child and I love the simplicity of the fact that we are called to care. Jesus cares about every single person in the foster care community and so should the Church as we seek to be more like Him. What an opportunity to come alongside, encourage, and support while ultimately pointing to the One who cares more deeply for each of us than we could ever imagine!” – Leigh Ellen Barkley
Will you join us in praying for each of our TFI ministries, the churches they are connected to, and the agencies they are walking alongside? You can see each of our current TFI Advocate locations here.
And remember: This month, applications are open to become a TFI Advocate, bridging the gap between churches and foster care agencies right in your local community. The truth is that we can all do something to support the foster care community. Applications only open twice a year, so please be sure to check out the details and apply at www.tfiadvocate.org.
Holly grew up with a heart for adoption but didn’t know much about foster care. God used an internship with a local child welfare agency to make her aware. Coupling that experience with knowing the joy of the Gospel, Holly is passionate about connecting the local church to the foster care community. Holly and her husband, Scott, were married in December 2013 and are enjoying the crazy adventure of life together.
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