Foster care and adoption offer unique gospel opportunities

Foster care and adoption offer unique gospel opportunities

Rod Marshall (left), president and CEO of the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries, was joined by Jedd Medefind (second from left), president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, for 15 interviews conducted throughout the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting and preceding Pastors Conference on June 10–12 in Birmingham.

J.D. Greear, president of the SBC and pastor of The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, joined Todd Unzicker, sending pastor at The Summit Church, to discuss how fostering children can affect one’s Christian walk. “The best way to grow in your relationship with Jesus is to love someone else,” Greear said. “What better way than to bring someone into your home?”

David Platt, former Alabama Baptist pastor and now pastor of McLean Bible Church, Washington, D.C., joined his wife, Heather, to discuss the need for a passion for adoption and foster care among churches. “God is passionate about the fatherless,” David said.

“Are foster parents missionaries?” Rod Marshall, president and CEO of the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes, asked Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, and his wife, Lynette. “Absolutely,” Kevin said. “They go through many challenges. It opens doors that otherwise wouldn’t be opened.” And there are many ways other people can support the ministry of foster parents, Lynette said. “Everyone can do something,” she said. “Do a diaper drive at your church. Senior adult groups, youth groups want to do something. Every single person can do something. Get up. Put legs to it. Prepare a meal. Do something.”

Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM), spoke on the ways SBOM has joined with the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes to “protect the vulnerable” in Alabama Baptist churches including the MinistrySafe program and Pathways Professional Counseling.

Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board, was joined by his wife, Michelle, to discuss how fostering brings numerous opportunities to share the gospel. “We’ve never had more lost people in our home than when we started fostering — children, social workers, biological parents,” Paul said. “We had many, many, many opportunities to share.”

Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and his wife, Charlotte, talked about implementing a “whole comprehensive pro-life ethic” including foster care and adoption. “We are against abortion but also care about what happens to children after they are born,” the couple said.

Blake Kersey, pastor of First Baptist Church, Decatur, and trustee for Pathways Professional Counseling, spoke on the impact the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes had on him the first time he visited. “I had no clue about the level of involvement and types of ministries you do,” he said. “It was a no-brainer that we should get involved. It was not a question of should we get involved, it was a question of how much we could get involved in that Kingdom effort.”

Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director for national Woman’s Missionary Union, and Emily Swader, with WorldCrafts, discussed the partnership between the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes and WorldCrafts. Swader discussed how churches can host benefits to support artisans and the Children’s Homes. “For us it’s a theological issue. We are commanded to care for the poor, the foreigner, the orphaned,” Wisdom-Martin said.

David Melber, vice president of Send Relief, and his wife, Tera, talked about how parenthood and fostering impact a Christian’s understanding of the gospel. “I have never been more aware of the fact of Romans 5:8,” Tera said. “No matter what, I would give my life for my children. It’s taught me so much about how Christ in His sacrificial humbleness left the throne for me. It’s made my salvation that much sweeter.”

Kevin Smith, who serves as executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, was joined by his wife, Pat, to discuss how important a supportive community is for foster parents. “Come alongside a family who are adoptive parents,” Kevin said. “Give them a night out. A gift card to a restaurant.” His wife agreed. “It is important to have community to help you,” Pat said.

Buddy Champion, pastor of First Baptist Church, Trussville, said he works to inform the congregation about the importance of foster care and the work done by the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes. “We raised money for Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes at Vacation Bible School this year,” he said. “Raising awareness among children then raised the awareness among the parents.”

Todd Wilson, pastor of Grace Covenant Baptist Church, Birmingham, and his wife, Lori, have served as foster parents for nearly 10 years. “We love working through the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes,” Lori said. “The training, the prayers, it’s nice to know that you are there to support and encourage.”


Three spontaneous interviews with Stuart Davidson, pastor of Eastern Shore Baptist Church, Daphne; SBOM state missionary and foster parent Scooter Kellum and his wife, Chelsea; and Jedd Medefind also took place. Videos of all the interviews can be found at