Faces of Children is an ecumenical prayer ministry under the auspices of First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas. Their mission is to initiate ministries of prayer for children in churches, communities, and neighborhoods. In doing so, they seek to provide an opportunity for people of God to join together, learn about children and their needs throughout the world, and celebrate Christ's love (especially as it relates to children).
Invitation to Prayer ... Tomorrow
Thank you for joining me in prayer for the children of the world. If you can, we'd love to have you pray together with us this Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., in the gym conference room at First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas. The church is not currently offering lunch service. If you'd like to have lunch together, please bring a sack lunch and we can eat together.
Also, Faces of Children is now on Facebook! I invite you to like our page so that you can see regular stories, prayer needs, and updates from partner ministries.
All the best,
Last year we hosted the Heart Gallery, a collection of portraits of children in Texas foster care who are legally free for adoption. For 3 months the portraits hung in our church, and we each walked past them... taking in their faces, remembering their names, praying for families to step forward and claim them. I memorized their faces and their first names and tucked them into my heart, but I'm realizing only now that perhaps I didn't really see them.
Fast forward 6 months ... Every week in our church, high school students from across the street come over and file through a line and get 4 pieces of pizza, a cookie and a soda for 4 bucks. Last fall I helped serve pizza, and I tried to smile and say hello to each student that came through the line. Most came in clusters of their friends -- the football players and the artists and the girls trading makeup tips and the students with backpacks full of books. Most had managed to carve out some niche for themselves; some place they felt as though they might belong. So when the young woman came bouncing through the line, clearly by herself and disconnected from the other students, she stuck out to me. I paused a little longer and asked her name. "Kristi," she said, clutching a teddy bear to her chest. * For some reason, the memory of her standing there - smiling widely and holding that teddy bear - stuck with me.
Last week I opened a message from a local acquaintance who was asking others to pray with her for three foster children in our area waiting for adoptive families. Some of them have been waiting for more than 8 years, she wrote. I shook my head sadly and looked through the list of names: Simon, John, and Kristi. As soon as I read the name Kristi, my mind flashed back to last fall... the young woman smiling in the midst of the pizza-eating throng, innocently standing there clutching a teddy bear as her peers swirled around, most of them so focused on how to appear "cool" they wouldn't be caught dead with a teddy bear at school. There are thousands of people named Kristi, but her unmistakable bright smile came to mind. And I clicked on "Kristi" in the email.
A page opened, and I saw her staring back at me. The picture was several years outdated, and she no longer looks quite the same. Her hair is shorter now, and her face is older... 8 years is almost forever in the life of a child, after all. But as I saw the picture in the email, I realized that not only was this Kristi-who-wants-to-be-adopted the same as Kristi-who-eats-pizza-and-holds-teddy-bears, but she was also the child behind one of the faces that hung in our church for several months. I walked by her picture daily for months, and yet I didn't really see her. I didn't realize the first time I met her in the pizza line that I already knew something of her. In spite of the fact that her face hung on the walls of our church, she remained to me a "faceless foster child."
I'm grateful Kristi has found a safe place in our church. What started as weekly pizza lunches has turned into something more. She comes over every morning to get a soda and visit with our church receptionist before school starts, and in this budding relationship Kristi has found support, tenderness, and encouragement. But it is not lost on me that one of these children whose portraits hung on our church walls as we prayerfully asked what we can do to care for orphans is now walking around our building every weekday. I know God wanted me to put together all of these pieces last week. He wanted me to see the complete picture... that the portrait and the pizza girl and the child still longing for a family of her own and the girl who likes our soda fountain are all the same person. And He answered that prayerful questions about what we can do to care for orphans with a flesh and blood person walking around in our midst.
I still don't know what this means for me personally or for our church family, but I know God wanted us to see. My hurt hearts from the fact that it took me so long to really notice. But I see now. And I hope as you read this little story, you will open your heart to what God really wants you to see. It may be a child like Kristi. It may be something else entirely. But I truly believe He's asking us - inviting us - to really see.
This week, I'd like to invite you to pray for Kristi and the other children who wait for adoptive families, especially those who will soon be "emancipated." That's the official term used when a child ages out of the foster system and becomes a legal adult. Sadly, these children frequently do not have the social support networks and structures in place to succeed and often fall victim to trafficking or a life repeating the same cycles of poverty, abuse, and addiction that led them to be placed in state custody as children.
Take this story our church benevolence counselor shared this week:
I am currently assisting a different Midland High student, who, at 18, was simply abandoned by the system. She is working at a restaurant, trying to go to school, living in a motel-which consumes all of her income-getting off work at 2 AM, walking to her motel, then getting up about 6 AM to get ready to catch the EZ Rider to go to school. Her second semester grades have plummeted. Prior to being ousted-at-18, she was an excellent student. However, the foster care system did not prepare her for life on her own. She didn't know that she had an obligation to file her income taxes. So, she didn't. I'm helping her with that, too.
As we pray for children like Kristi, may God lead us to truly see, know, love, and serve them.
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13
Praying with you,
Carrie J. McKean
Faces of Children Director
First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas
(432) 684-7821 x153
* Name changed to protect her privacy.
If you have prayer requests about children, those who care for them, those who have authority over them, or those who harm them (the really hard prayers to say sometimes), please send them to email@example.com