*Writers Note: The following article contains links to news and data related to this topic. Please take the time to educate yourself on the crisis in Arizona and then pray about where God would use you to move on behalf of children and families in crisis.
Spend any amount of time in social services and you will inevitably hear the phrase, “The system is broken”. In fact, the “broken system” has become such a norm that we never really pause to think about it. It is a widely accepted fact that we simply must work within. It’s broken, but we do our best.
But the question must be asked: Why is the system broken? And more importantly, can we fix it? With over 17,000 children in Arizona Foster Care, can we really afford to do our best with something that doesn’t work? Children born to broken homes, handed to a broken system; the irony is palatable.
I’ve meditated on the issue for the past ten years as I’ve worked in and around foster care and adoption. I have spent a decade with this system and her children. Watched its attempts at success, and had front row seats to its failures. It was broken long ago, and it will crumble with these rising numbers. The current system of foster care will not sustain 17,000 children. It will fail. That failure has a cost no child should pay.
Children failed by the system have multiple moves, caregivers, schools, and homes. They are over medicated and under schooled. They are sexually assaulted, physically abused, and lose their lives under the rubble of this system. These traumas have life long consequences.
And Christian, it is important to note, that we are the ones holding the sledge hammer. The mess and failures of this system belong to us. It is not the state’s fault that the system is broken, it is the fault of the Christian church who handed it to her.
The government is not designed to raise children. It is not designed to heal broken families. So it should be no shock to us that it is not possible for the government to successfully play this role, no more than we would expect an elephant could climb a tree. It is outside of its design, structure, and purpose. The government plays this role not because it is best fitted for the job, but because it must. It must protect its citizens and the most vulnerable of its people. It must play this role, because the church has not.
The reality of this truth is painful. The truth that our Lord and Savior tasked us with the care of the widow, the orphaned, and the oppressed. The truth that the job of the foster care system was not intended for a government but for the Christian church and her people. This fills me with so much shame as I look at the disaster it has become. It is so terribly broken, Christian, and the blame belongs to us.
This conviction is not meant to chain us down with guilt. It is meant to awaken us. It should sting, but let that sting cause us to open our eyes! We may have failed in the past. We are definitely failing right now. But praise God we do not have to keep on failing. We need not stand in the refuse of the system and keep trudging forward. We don’t have to come up with programs or funding and try to rebuild a broken building with broken bricks. We are not a government or another human institution. We are the people of a Holy Church and worship a Holy God. The God who tasked us to care for the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed only asks that we step forward to do the job. He is the one that will supply the tools, resources, and structure. He is the one who will repair it, we need only show up to work. Will you show up to work Christian? Church, will you rise up and take back your job?
The question has been asked: Why is the system broken? And more importantly, can we fix it? The system is broken because of us church, but praise God, Yes, it can be fixed!