A Better Together host mom shares how opening her family’s home to others in need helped her nurture a loving, hopeful spirit in those she connected with and in the community at large.
Guest Blog by Christine Goll
When my husband and I first heard about the need for families to host children, presented as part of the Every Child Initiative at Summit Church, we felt the Holy Spirit leading us to consider this. We knew this would be a huge sacrifice for the whole family. It really didn’t even make sense to consider in light of the crazy schedule we already managed with our three pre-teen and teen girls’ school and extracurricular schedules, our work schedules, and our church and community involvement. But the tugging at our hearts continued until we, as a family, finally made the decision to step forward.
Little did we know how profoundly God would work in our hearts and the hearts of the children and parents that He brought in our path through the Better Together program.
Our first hosting endeavor was with two sweet young girls, ages 8 and 9, whose family (mom, boyfriend, and five young children) had lost their home. The girls’ father was not in their lives, nor was he able to help provide for them financially.
Every evening at bedtime, we would pray for their family’s needs together and thank God for all the blessings that He did and would provide. The girls found this to be a new and different routine but seemed to really look forward to these prayer times. By the fourth or fifth night, the younger one wanted to lead the bedtime prayers, and her prayers just melted our hearts. She was so quick to thank her “heabenly fodder” for her blessings (a place to stay with good food to eat), asking God to help her family and expressing her love for Him. As the days went on, the girls also began to ask questions about God, and they wanted to read from the Bible each night. They were so hungry to know and understand more.
Then came Summit Sports Camp week. They came home each day telling of the Bible story that was presented, eagerly memorizing the scripture verse, and using “vacation bible school” as the theme of their pretend play with dolls and stuffed animals. By the end of the week, when presented with the opportunity to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they eagerly went forward to ask their remaining questions and take this first step in the faith. They told their mom on the phone about it, and she was very happy for them. This also opened more dialogue between mom and me about mom’s faith and how she had grown up going to church and being a believer, and now wanted to find a church to go to with her kids.
Our second time hosting children was much different than the first. These girls were older, ages 12 and 14, and we quickly began to realize that they came from an environment lacking in structure, routine, and support, which made the transition to our home very difficult for both them and us.
We noticed that the 12-year-old seemed to really thrive on any affection, kind words, and attention that we gave her. She seemed to have extremely low self-esteem and hated school because she was often teased. She seemed really grateful that I took the time to contact her teachers to discuss the teasing situations that were happening there and attempt to address them.
Though there were not as many overt opportunities to share the gospel with these girls (and even some resistance on the part of the older one to attend church or youth group with our family), I believe that seeds were planted in their hearts. The older girl, who was particularly withdrawn, expressed more resentment than gratitude while staying with us. However, she showed a much more affectionate and grateful side a couple of weeks after leaving our house, when I picked her up from school to take her to a follow-up dental visit. She opened up to me more than she had in the whole month she stayed at our house, thanked me for letting her stay with us, and asked if she could come back sometime. It was amazing! And it finally gave me the opportunity to share why we opened our home to her and her sister—that it was because God had led us to do it, and that we did it out of gratitude for what Jesus did for us on the cross.
“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:7 NIV
Another area of gospel influence that we hadn’t anticipated was in getting opportunities to talk with and support (both in prayer and in practical needs) the parents of the children we hosted. We soon realized that these families had no support system to help them in this rock bottom time in their lives. Either they had no close family, were estranged from their families, or had families that didn’t live nearby and/or were unable to help financially. They also had no network of close friends they could call upon for help.
Both moms shared with me the utter depression they initially experienced being away from their children and having their children stay with total strangers because they were unable to provide for them at that time. At the same time, they said they were also very grateful to know that their kids were being loved and cared for while they got back on their feet. So when each of these families finally got a home and were reunited with their children, we wanted to continue supporting them.
We knew that the families had absolutely nothing to put in their homes besides the beds provided to them by a local charity. Everything they had in the past at their previous homes had to be left behind. They were only able to take what would fit into a few small suitcases or bags to take to a hotel at that time. And, again, there were no family members or close friends who could help them and no funds whatsoever to use on anything nonessential. So we rallied support from our Facebook friends and were blessed to see so many wanting to donate things to these families.
We took a couple of truckloads of household items to each of them, and they were so very grateful. The father-figure of the first two young girls who stayed with us talked at length with my husband, John, about how incredibly grateful he was for all the donations. Again, it was an opportunity to share why we wanted to step up and help.
This family continued to need our prayer support over the ensuing months, as the “dad” was laid off about a month after finally finding a job, and they again were in a difficult financial position. Mom would also text me occasionally asking for “mom advice’” with her kids, which made me feel truly honored and humbled.
We got the opportunity to bless both families again at Christmas time when we and another family from Summit helped them provide some gifts to their children—again, using each opportunity to love on these families as a way to help them feel loved by God.
Looking back on these situations, it has reminded us of what we all, even these families who have hit rock bottom, need most of all. Beyond just needing our physical needs met, we need the hope of the gospel. It is Jesus who gives us a purpose for living, peace in our struggles, an assurance of being loved and accepted, and hope for an eternity with Him where all the struggles of this life have passed away. And what a privilege it is to be used by Him to show others the depth of His great love.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” —1 Peter 3:15
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” — John 13:35
Posted June 2, 2022 | Edited for length