The Church: Making a Difference in Butler County

left crest 2

This past weekend, an article ran in our local paper regarding the results of the reorganization efforts of Butler County’s Children Services.  The committed personnel and dedicated social workers are working hard to mitigate the difficult circumstances that confront many children in our county.  Of course, these are they that diligently give of themselves everyday and are clearly doing the lion share of the work.  However, I am also grateful for the opportunities that the faith community have been given to invest in the lives of children who are at risk.

Continue reading

Packing Love for Foster Care Children

Below is another article that appeared in the Dayton media market regarding the incredible gesture of students from LIFT camp and Cedarville University.  I hope this inspires you to go do something and impact your community with the love of Christ.

Lift logo2

CEDARVILLE — More than 800 high school and middle school students, attending LIFT camp at Cedarville University this week, are making a difference in our local communities.

On Thursday at Cedarville University, more than 100 suitcases were given to children in the foster care system from Butler County. There are 455 children in the foster care system in Butler County and 130 are waiting to be adopted.7-18-cedarville-foster-bags_21264

Cedarville University is partnering with LIFT camp and Butler County Children’s Services to raise awareness for foster care children and families. Butler County Commissioner Cindy Carpenter and a representative from Family Services of Butler County attended Thursday’s services, along with many foster care families and children who will be presented with the luggage.

With Butler County foster children in attendance, Cedarville University President Thomas White detailed the University’s full-tuition scholarship for one foster student. Cedarville began its foster student scholarship last year with Trina Jones of Xenia being awarded the scholarship.

Cedarville President, Dr. Thomas White, feels strongly about adoption. He and his family have been personally engaged through the adoption of their daughter Rachel.

“Adoption is at the heart of the gospel,” says White. “The Gospel allows orphans to become heirs and slaves to become sons of God through Jesus Christ.” Additionally, White said, “Through Cedarville University’s Foster Care Scholarship, we answer God’s call to care for the widows and orphans by providing a student with an education from a biblical worldview and welcoming them into the Cedarville family.”

On Wednesday evening, the Lift camp students raised $3,400 to purchase suitcases, and some students chose to give the suitcase they brought to camp this week for the cause. “Most of these [foster care] children are packing their belongings in trash bags and moving an average of 12 times over the course of 15 years.” said LIFT camp regional director Rob Rosenbalm. “This reality has moved us to do something.”

LIFT camp has been hosted by Cedarville University for 15 years and is sponsored by LIFT Student Ministries of Dallas, Texas. The camp averages 800 students each year who gather for one week to engage in Scripture and minister to the community in various ways. LIFT Student Ministries has served nearly 50,000 students nationwide since 1994 years.

 

The Love of Christ on Display

This was a fabulous moment that made headlines in our community.  Below is the local front page article that appeared in the weekend paper written by Denise Callahan.

Lift logo2BUTLER COUNTY —

Hooking up churches with Butler County Children Services appears to be a match made in heaven.

Usually, when social workers come to remove a child from a home, belongings are packed in garbage bags. About 800 students who were attending LIFT camp at Cedarville University near Dayton this week raised about $3,400 to buy 130 suitcases for foster kids in Butler County. Some even chose to donate their own suitcases and will return home with their belongings in trash bags.

“They said we’re going to donate our luggage and we’re going to give some money for luggage for these kids because they have to put all their stuff in garbage bags when they are yanked out of their homes,” Children Services Executive Director Jerome Kearns said. “We’ll give them something they can call their own. So all these kids that are up at Cedarville at camp are taking their clothes in garbage bags, because they gave their luggage to these kids.”

The connection between a camp for middle and high school kids at Cedarville University and Butler County foster kids germinated when Kearns held a series of community meetings at the start of the agency overhaul process in February. Pastor Rob Rosenbalm at the Fairfield West Baptist Church attended the meeting of faith-based organizations Kearns and his executive team held. He also is the regional director of the LIFT camp.

His church held a series of “Summer Slam” fun events at the church for about 100 foster children, families and others from the community this week and the LIFT camp kids came to help.

Cedarville University President Thomas White said about 20 foster children came up to the university Thursday night for the suitcase presentation.suitcase

“It was an amazing night,” he said. “It was a great, amazing time.”

White said the event was also an opportunity to let the foster children and others learn about the relatively new scholarship program the university offers for foster children in Ohio. Last year, the university awarded the first full-ride scholarship to Trina Jones of Xenia. The scholarship is worth about $120,000 and includes everything.

Rosenbalm said the LIFT camp kids took off with the suitcase idea as soon as he mentioned it. Other than making sure the foster children don’t have to tote their whole lives around in a trash bag, he said it was also a way to help raise awareness of the whole foster care and adoption issue.

When the faith-based organizations met with Kearns, they all were excited to help the agency with recruiting foster and adoptive families and mentoring. There are currently 455 children in foster care. Rosenbalm said he has been meeting with Kearns and others to get a handle on how the whole system works so he can educate and encourage families to become part of the system.

“We want to recruit, we plan on recruiting, we want to make sure we raise up those who can be parents within the foster care system. We want to raise up adoptive parents as well,” he said. “It is clear to me it is a compassionate response that I believe many in the faith community would be willing to journey in, if we take the time to faithfully explain it.”