By Brian Blackwell. Message Staff Writer
MONROE – Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home President and CEO Perry Hancock realizes the impact foster care and adoption has on children in the state.
Currently, 45 foster homes are affiliated with the Children’s Home and are located in all areas of Louisiana. Hancock said the entity’s goal is to have hundreds of affiliated foster homes.
To that end, the Children’s Home is looking for model churches in Shreveport and central Louisiana that would commit to establishing new foster care and adoption ministries.
These model churches also could host monthly foster care and adoption support group meetings and possibly offer a parsonage not in use for a foster home.
First Baptist New Orleans already is a model church for not only the New Orleans area but also the Northshore. The church’s Crossroads NOLA initiative promotes Christian foster care and adoption and provides support for Christian foster families in the New Orleans and Northshore areas.
“When we at LBCH ask ‘where are the children who need us?’, foster care is one of the answers,” Hancock said. “With so many children in foster care (4,500), the opportunity to change lives is incredible. Louisiana Baptists could make a profound impact on the next generation if those children were in Christian homes and learning about Christ as they attend our churches.”
In addition to foster care and adoption news, Hancock updated trustees on construction of its new HomePlace cottages. Started in 2012, HomePlace provides homeless women and their children a place to stay for six to 12 months at no cost to the residents. While there, the women receive a high school equivalency degree and life and employment skills training through the Christian Women Job Corps.
Funded through proceeds of the annual Roy O Martin Fall Golf Tournament, construction begins this month on four two bedroom-two bathroom apartments for women who have completed the first phase of HomePlace but need additional time on campus.
Once complete, the space will increase from 12 units to a capacity for 20 units.
“The women are breaking the cycle of dependency,” Hancock said. “We are seeing lots of spiritual decisions among the women, some who are returning to church.
“Many of these women have been told all their lives they won’t accomplish anything,” he continued. “For many of them, it’s really the first time they have accomplished anything in their lives. And that’s a springboard for their lives. It just changes their lives in so many ways.”
HomePlace isn’t the only construction happening on the Monroe campus. Renovations on all of the entity’s cottages for its children and houseparents are nearing completion.
The makeover of the interior portion of the cottages includes new flooring, updated kitchens and elimination of paneling inside each home, which was built in the 1970s. So far, all but two cottages have completed renovations.
Rucker and Peace are the only ones remaining. Renovations on the campus’ cottages began in 2013.
Trustees also were updated on the progress of efforts to build a Louisiana Baptist-sponsored ministry center for orphans and those seeking medical care in Haiti. Hancock is hopeful the purchase of a 10-acre property to house the center will be complete soon and construction will follow soon after.
The property will be home to an orphanage for 40 children, a school for the children there as well as for some impoverished children, a ministry training center, medical clinic and church plant. Hancock hopes the orphanage will begin operations in 2016, with other buildings on the complex starting not long after.
“The needs are so great,” Hancock said. “When the needs are great that means the opportunities are great.”
The Haiti project is an effort sponsored by several Louisiana Baptist churches and the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
Haiti was devastated by a Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless. Louisiana Baptists were among those who provided disaster relief soon after the earthquake and that effort has continued with the partnership.
Over time, several churches have been involved. In addition, the Children’s Home has committed to the partnership network.
Louisiana Baptists have partnered with Haitian Pastor Jean Odvald Louis, who has a strong church in Croix-Des-Bouquets. He is a discipler and church planting pastor, having started 17 additional churches, according to Wayne Sheppard, Louisiana Baptist Convention executive assistant to the executive director.
Ministry efforts there have included construction, pastor training, medical clinics, evangelism and children’s Bible clubs (Vacation Bible School).
The Children’s Home has sponsored several mission trips to the country, including a team of 60 traveling to Haiti Oct. 17-23. The application deadline is April 15.
Further information on all of these mission trips can be obtained by contacting Rhonda Hensley at 318.366.2952 or Rhonda@lbch.org and Beth Green at 318.343.2244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions regarding foster care and adopting, including becoming a model church on this issue, should be directed at Green.