By Ken Hamilton
Niagara Gazette — The people at the Chapel at Crosspoint don’t put a Nativity scene out on its front lawn like a lot of other places do. Instead, they place theirs inside — and not just inside of the church, but also inside the hearts and the homes of its members and friends. Like many other churches, the Chapel recognizes that long before there was the story of a Santa Claus, before there was a multitude of gifts flooding under our Christmas trees, and before there were rivers of foodstuffs cascading off our tables, there was the living, breathing scene of a man in a manger that stood over a poor mother, as she adored and cared for her sleeping child. That is what Christmas is about; because without that scene, there could not have even been a Merry Christmas? How do the Chapel and their friends place that living Nativity scene into the hearts and homes of people? They use real children who are looking for love, and they want to use all of them — at least that’s their goal. Sadly, in Erie and Niagara counties alone, there are about 1,000 children in various stages of the foster care systems. Some are awaiting the reunion with their natural families, while others are awaiting what is called a Forever Home. Homes like yours, where when those children are accepted, they are there to stay for the rest of their childhoods. The Chapel wants to give the ultimate Christmas gift by taking every child that is waiting to give love to and to receive love and caring from an adult, regardless of what time of the year that it actually happens. Isn’t that what Joseph did, that man in the manger scene? And here is both the irony and the opportunity: Google lists about 1,000 religious ministries in those same two counties. Is it a match made in Heaven? Maybe. But it will be, only if at least one additional family from each of those ministries would either provide a foster home or support for child and their family. It can also happen If each ministry commits to joining the Chapel and their friends in being real friends, by helping each step of the way with what John Camardo calls Wrap-Around Support. Camardo, the Director of Operations for the Chapel, says that there is more support for families who foster and adopt than just helping them through the process. “There is the Family Support Network, which are individuals coming along side families who are bringing children in their home,” he said. “They are providing services such as babysitting and transportation support, as well as wrapping around the family with more basic things, such as preparing meals, helping with homework and spending time with them.” Comardo goes on to say that, “In the acts of service, there are endless possibilities. In the end, it is about identifying the needs and helping in whatever way that they can.” And that is what we all need to do – whatever we can. Because, isn’t that what we are here for? Isn’t that what Christmas is really all about. If you have room for a Nativity scene in your heart, then please be upfront in encouraging your ministry to visit www.every-child.com/ to see how it can become a part of this great commission; and then visit it yourself to see how you can help. Wouldn’t it be great if these two counties could be the first to clear the foster care roles? What then could we not accomplish?Contact Ken Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.