When her mother fled for her life from an abusive marriage, Julie was six years old and became a mothering child. Julie and her three brothers were left behind with their struggling father. Her father was full of anger and resentment at the circumstances around him and took it out on others. Julie was surrounded by an environment of inconsistent care, trauma and utter chaos that should have left her forever wounded and alone. Amidst the trials of the harsh day to day, a neighbor stepped in and took her and her brothers to church where they met Jesus for the first time. Julie said, “We don’t remember the names [of these neighbors], just the foundation, the rock of Jesus that we can always fall back on as we stumble through our lives.”
The truth is that God sent a tribe of neighbors to rescue Julie and her brothers. From invites to picnics in cozy living rooms to talks about God over mowing the lawn, God saw Julie and her brothers. These simple encounters made sure that these kids were certain of their value. It was the seemingly ordinary acts of love and kindness that carried these kiddos through the chaos that they faced. Julie has seen God’s faithfulness in her life and recognises that these neighborly encounters not only influenced and changed her life, but also those of her children and grandchildren.
The heart of God that was so evident in the bold sacrifice of Julie’s neighbors is the very thing that inspires Julie to pour out so sacrificially today. Julie is the kind of person who chooses to see the numerous needs of those around her allowing her love to be shown through action. Her involvement with the Safe Families ministry allows her to be the anointed neighbor with eyes to see children, like her, that are surrounded by challenging environments. With so many families in need of help, Julie makes herself available to deliver diapers, gift new pajamas, babysit littles in foster care, take children on bowling and concert adventures, and so much more. Julie believes that together we can stop the cycle of loneliness and worthlessness. All it takes is reaching out with a smile, a hug, a listening ear and a prayer prayed. She has learned that even if you think you have little to offer, God can take that little and make a big impact. Julie has gone from a motherless child in a home filled with violence and fear to, “Super Nan,” caring extravagantly for children who so desperately need her. The needs are great in hurting families in our community and our willingness to step in will make all the difference in the world.
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Westside partners with Safe Families for Children Central Oregon as a collaborative effort between local churches. This ministry works to support families in crisis and is designed to intervene in hopes of keeping families together and out of the foster care system. To get involved, visit westsidechurch.org/fosteringhope.