Blue Ridge Christian News

[The following article was published in the 'Carolina Christian News' newspaper]

How to Reduce Homelessness, Crime, Mental Illness, etc.

By Ed Rosella

I would like to introduce you to some of America's FUTURE homeless, criminals, drug addicts, adults with mental problems, etc.; these are our CURRENT foster children. Studies show a connection between the foster care system and the problems of society. Without significant intervention by a caring adult, foster children face a life of pain, hopelessness, and trouble.

I asked a friend, who is director of a homeless shelter, what he thought about the connection between foster children and homelessness. He simply said, "We need to stop them from coming down the pipeline." Studies show 15-30% of foster children will become homeless adults. Many end up in our prison or mental institutional systems.

A social worker once asked a foster mother if she wanted to adopt the boy in her care; he was sexually abused and had mental problems. She answered, "I'm in my sixties, what life can I give to a three-year-old?" The social worker responded, "What life will he have if you don't?" I later asked the foster mother, "What life will he have?" She answered, "He'll be moved from home to home and eventually put in a mental institution where he'll live out his life."

A friend, who works at a home for mentally handicapped adults, said to me, "I wonder how many of them didn't need to end up here? What would have happened if someone intervened early in their lives?"

I believe local churches should begin to think proactively, rather than reactively, about how to help with the problems of society. If we intervene early in foster children's lives and give them hope when they're young, we won't have to visit them in prison when they are adults. The Bible teaches us to be proactive, "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter." (Proverbs 24:10)

A social worker wrote about a twelve-year-old foster girl, "She desperately wants to be adopted, but her biggest fear is she will be a disappointment to a family and they will not keep her." This girl feels she needs to be perfect for someone to accept her. If we can be proactive by giving her the family she longs for now we can prevent future self-esteem problems in her life.

Many social workers are doing their best with the tools at their disposal. They're giving foster children counseling, therapy, education, temporary homes, etc. These are all good; but one foster girl teaches us what is best when she said, "What I need most is…somebody to love me."

My wife and I adopted three siblings from Romania. One day, we attempted to impress them with their new country; we showed them houses, cars, stores, etc. We asked, "Is America different than Romania?" They answered, "Yes!" "How?" we asked, expecting them to point out the things they were seeing. We were humbled by their response, "In America we have a family; in Romania we didn't have a family." It didn't matter where they lived or what they had; they just wanted a family!

Our children are now on a different life-path. They are able to face challenges being secure in their family. When foster children find the stability of a permanent family they stop surviving and start living. They also begin to understand Jesus' love for them.

Job said, "I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him… I was father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth." (Job 29:12, 16-17)

I believe God wants to restore the passion of Job, the ministry of rescuing vulnerable children to local churches. Social Services desperately need good foster and adoptive families. A proactive church that provides those families will help reduce homelessness, crime, mental illness, and many other problems of society.

[If you would like a conference to help inspire your church towards mercy ministries you may write to]