Voices of Foster Care: Equipping through Partnership

I know a secret...shhhh.

Last fall, our family endeavored to begin a food delivery ministry to our children's families who were in significant need. It guaranteed two things: we would see our past kiddos at least on drop off days, and we knew they were receiving adequate food at least once a month.

Enter Grace Klein Community. 

As I've said before, ministries seeking to love the broken are popping up all over town. It is wonderful, but where are the spaces we can partner and grow stronger, rather than recreating the wheel, as we often say? Where are the avenues we can study and learn from one another's experiences in loving the hurting, rather than believing we must create something never done before?

Every foster family, social worker and ministry to families in crisis should know about Grace Klein. If you are a reader in these circles, please share so that others can become aware of the wonderful resources available to us through this faithful ministry. Join the Lumpkin Gang as we hit food delivery with them every third Saturday of the month.

So grateful they were willing to provide a post on partnership...

We are commanded to care for orphans and widows. From our reading and study of scripture, it is not optional, but rather a mandate, a command from our Father.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” – James 1:27

God tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves, to lay down our lives for our brother, to put aside our needs for the needs of another, to let our plenty meet your needs so that in turn your plenty will meet our needs.  God teaches us that love is sharing. Love is sacrifice. Love is obedience. Love is God because God is love. And if we have God in us we love like crazy as an overflow of the Jesus seeping out of our pores and seeping out of every part of who we are in Christ Jesus. We are hidden in Christ and we no longer live, but praise Jesus and Christ lives in us.

Grace Klein Community, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, exists to serve the poor by providing such assistance as prayer, food, clothing, furniture and emergency assistance while fostering long-term meaningful relationships between recipients and volunteers.

We all suffer from some type of poverty whether spiritual, physical, emotional or financial.  When we take off our masks and take away our stuff, we are all the same and we can be real and intimately relate with one another.

We do not exist to reinvent the wheel, but to work together with the wheels that are already spinning. Not the busy wheels, headed in circles or in the wrong direction, but the wheels aligned with Jesus, the ones following hard after our Father. The wheels are organizations and individuals with like-minded focus, existing to glorify Christ and obey His commands for all of us.

We love to work together with our friends of the Forgotten Initiative. Our hearts understand each other. We serve the same Father. We are on the same team and we are unified on a mission way bigger than ourselves.

How do we work together??

1.     Grace Klein Community has a food ministry that uses food as an open door to share the love of Christ and build friendships.  The food boxes are delivered the third Saturday of each month, but the friendships are far reaching.

·       Food boxes created through Grace Klein Community are shared each month with Forgotten Initiative and are used to share Jesus with the families of the foster care children.  We believe in the restoration of the family and these food boxes open further doors for foster care families to minister to the birth families.

·       Foster families help pack the produce into the boxes between 7-8:30am at Asbury United Methodist Church, off 119, every third Saturday with us.  God loves a cheerful giver and when we share what we have it is pleasing to God.  Engaging children in serving is a great opportunity for them to see their worth and experience the ability to give.

·       Foster families deliver food routes to families in Birmingham.  Children are taught to be prejudice.  If we have a prejudice to skin color, socioeconomic class, education levels, addicts, the handicapped, etc., we learned this prejudiced.  As children, we are sponges, and it is a delight to teach the discipline of loving all people.  Jesus loves so we should too.

2.     Grace Klein Community hosts community events such as baptisms, house worship, a gathering at the park, Monday night prayer, camping at the local state park, etc.  Foster families need places where everyone is welcome and loved and valued.  We open all these community events to everyone and invite anyone to come.  God has used these activities for intentional worship, fellowship, the sharing of a meal and the deepening of Biblical community.

·       Watch our website at gracekleincommunity.com to learn of upcoming events and just show up and engage.

·       We all bring and share what we have and we all have what we need.  We all need to be careful with the resources that God has entrusted into our care and use what we have.  No one will remember what the dishes looked like or what we ate, but rather who they talked to and who made them feel loved.

·       We need to feel comfortable worshipping anywhere and breaking free of our segmented lives.

3.     Grace Klein Community has a donation room that is accessibly Monday-Friday between 7-4pm.

·       No one should ever have to buy clothing or shoes again.  We should be able to share what we have and we all have enough.  Anyone and everyone should come get the clothing their family needs and donate back the clothing your family no longer needs.  Please come take all you need, not just for your foster child, but for your own children and for you also. 

·       We know you are busy, so if you want, email gabe@gracekleincommunity.com with your clothing/shoe size needs and our volunteers will pull the needs for you and we will email you back when they are ready for pickup.

·       When we clothe ourselves from the donation room, we have freed up our clothing budget, and we can give all that money away.  God has given each of us limited resources so we must be creative with what we have.

·       We receive any donations, from knick knacks, to household accessories, to furniture, to clothing, to anything in between.  We share the items donated with those in need.

·       God has given us a heart for adoption so we share our plenty from the donation room to help with adoption yard sales.  By God’s grace, we will be helping with our 9th yard sale this weekend.

We also help with donating items to yard sales funding mission trips.
·       We help set-up apartments for ladies and men starting over from rehabilitation centers, Brother Bryan, Jessie’s Place, Lovelady Center, the Firehouse Shelter, Church of the Reconciler, etc.  As foster parents, if you need to help the biological parent “start over” with an initial home set-up, please email the referral to gabe@gracekleincommunity.com and pray with us that God will provide all they need.

·       The Forgotten Initiative does these really awesome bags that are given to a child when they are quickly removed from a home and taken into the Foster Care system.  We can collect the different items needed so that families helping with these travel bags can stretch their money farther and help with more of these backpacks.  Often we have bags donated and other needs that are recommended for these supportive backpacks.

4.     Grace Klein Community loves to engage more and more people in ministry and give families suggestions on how to serve with their children.  God loves us to serve as an act of worship to Him.  He even tells us not to become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.  We love to encourage you, as leaders and Christ followers, to never give up.

·       As summer begins it is good for us to remind our children to think of others as they think about themselves.  Grab some index cards, fold them in half, decorate them with coloring, stickers, scripture, encouraging notes, and drop them by our office.  We will give them to nursing home staff members who can put the card on the dinner tray of an elderly patient and bless their day.

·       Make laundry detergent with your children.  Laundry detergent is expensive and this is a huge gift to families struggling financially.  Email gabe@gracekleincommunity.com for the recipe and swing by our office to pick up some empty jugs.  (We collect empty jugs if you can wash them out and save them for us.)

·       Happy Boxes for Children’s Hospital are also a great summer project idea.  Decorate all those empty shoe boxes in your house and stuff the boxes with encouraging notes, toiletry items, small crafts, small toys and books.  Drop them by our office and we will deliver them to children so they can have something to do in their lap while they undergo treatment.

·       Ask your children to visit all your neighbors and collect books.  We need pre-reading to adult books.  We give to a variety of purposeful causes.  We are currently collecting for a library in Africa with one of our ministry partners.

·       Pass out Love Does cards with random acts of kindness.  We can provide you Love Does cards and also coupons that you can give away at restaurants your family probably goes to from time to time.

·       Have a cooking day with your kids and make a bunch of ready-made frozen meals.  We can give you a list of people to deliver the food to or you can bring to our freezer and other volunteers can deliver the meals.  We always know families that need a home cooked meal for a variety of reasons.  What a delightful way to love on families, like foster care families who are laying down their lives to follow Christ.

·       We always need non-perishable food and toiletry items.  Collect with your kid’s baseball team, girl scouts, neighborhood friends, your office at work, a small group, wherever and drop by our office or email gabe@gracekleincommunity.com if you collect so much you cannot transport it all.  We will use every collected item as a tool for spreading the Gospel.

·       Deliver some food with our monthly food delivery (the 3rd Saturday of each month) and see if that would be a good fit for your family.  Email gabe@gracekleincommunity.com.

·       Collect appropriate magazines that we can share as a treat for our food recipients.

·       If you travel, please collect the toiletry items and donate them to us.

5.     Grace Klein Community, Inc. loves to partner with other organizations.  We are way more effective together than we are alone.  If you know anyone that needs assistance, please let us know so we can see if we might have the resource they need.

6.     Grace Klein Community, Inc. is called to share what we have for teams traveling on mission trips all over the world.  If you are collecting anything, please contact us to see if we might have what you need or help you collect.

We are encouraged by the God-sized love that foster families give every day.  Your family reminds us of Jesus.  Your family encourages us and spurs us on to love and good deeds.  We want to pray for you and help you and do life with you.  Don’t we all need authentic, true community… people who know us for who we really are and love us anyway, people who point us to truth, people who are willing to get into the pit with us to help us get out, people who forget about what anyone else thinks and just run after God.  Keep looking different from the world; it is BEAUTIFUL.

Your friends at Grace Klein Community

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