Note from Kathie: Today’s guest post is from my friend Carla Adair Hendricks. I pray you’ll be blessed, inspired and challenged in the second of a two-part post. Read Part 1 here.
Lens #2: View our students from a perspective of hope and love.
A survey of the average school, neighborhood or community center could give a great picture of the state of our nation. We are a nation of brokenness – broken marriages, broken families, broken people.
Today, the image of family has changed much. Our churches are a great representation of this. Most churches are full of single-parent families, families directly impacted by substance abuse and domestic abuse, and families struggling with poverty.
Oftentimes children feel the greatest impact of this. Adoption and foster care are by-products of this brokenness, and each brings its own measure of trauma for a child. A child that has moved from foster home to foster home will struggle with interpersonal relationships and schoolwork. Some children will struggle with trusting the adults in their lives.
And yet, we mustn’t see these precious children in our classrooms as problem children. We mustn’t label them “the foster kid” or the “ADHD kid”. Practically, a better label for these children would be “children from hard places”. This phrase describes where a child comes from, instead of placing a judgment on the child.
Also, we must see these children through the lens of hope and love. We should be aware of tendencies and issues that they may face, but we must believe that each of these children can grow and learn and love.
With God’s intervention – through loving adults like us – they can even learn to love Jesus.
Lens #3: View our classrooms as a refuge of hope and healing.
With a little dose of education and a willingness to adjust, our classrooms can be a place where children receive hope and healing. In order to bring hope and healing, we have to be adaptable.
The way we learned about God decades ago may not be the best method to teach our children today. – Tweet That
For example, having children take turns reading from the Bible is a great way to promote Bible-learning and also literacy. However, what happens when one of your students has missed weeks of school and has just been placed in her fifth foster home? She’s probably not going to be able to read on grade level. An easy solution would be to have children raise their hands and volunteer to read out loud, instead of having each child read in order. This way, the challenged reader doesn’t feel shamed or exposed.
Last year I had a 6-year-old boy come to my classroom after being placed in a new foster home. Despite his squirminess, I had him sit close to me and allowed him to be my special helper. Although he asked for his foster mommy twice, he hung in there and I made sure he got the extra attention he needed. I knew I probably had a short window of time to reach this child with the love of Christ, but that didn’t stop me.
And it shouldn’t stop any of us from sharing His love with a child who may come from a background very different from yours and mine. If we can change our teaching “lenses”, we can impact the Kingdom of God – one precious child at a time.
How can you change your teaching “lens” to advocate for children from hard places? Please share with our community by leaving a comment below.
Carla Adair Hendricks is a pastor’s wife, mother of four, writer, speaker and orphan advocate. Two of her four children are biological, one was adopted from Russia and one was adopted domestically. Her husband Anthony leads the Conway campus of the ethnically-diverse Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas, where she serves the Mo Kids Children’s ministry as a teacher and teacher-coordinator for the K through 1st grade class. She also serves two orphan care ministries: The CALL and the African-American Church Initiative of the Christian Alliance for Orphans. A published journalist, Carla’s shares her heart at adoptionfostercareadvocate.blogspot.com and carlaadairhendricks.blogspot.com.