What work does God do in our hearts to prepare us to serve others and extend His unconditional love? Host Parents Jeff and Amy Oehler have opened my eyes to the many ways God equips us to do His work.
How did the Oehler’s get involved with the Safe Families ministry? Jeff and Amy share about how God worked in their hearts even before they began hosting children as well as the hearts of the people who launched Safe Families – Fort Wayne. Below are their answers when asked how they began serving with the Safe Families ministry:
Amy: I think it started before Kim and Dana even launched Safe Families. We did a book study on the Passion for the Fatherless.
Jeff: Kim and Dana had such a strong desire to help orphans. And they wanted to start an orphan ministry of some kind and had no idea at that point what direction we were going. But we thought it was a good idea also.
Amy: We went through the book and discussed it together. I think when they landed on Safe Families, it was a good way for us to help because we knew a lot of people who had adopted but didn’t feel at that point like that was where God was leading us. Safe Families is a really neat ministry with so many different areas where you can help which was a great opportunity for us.
Jeff: Safe Families is so in line with God’s command to care for the orphans and widows.
Through many times of welcoming children into their home, the Oehler’s offer practical advice for those interested in ministering through Safe Families along with discussing challenges they have faced in their own hearts:
1. Don’t try to fix the problems:
Amy: Sometimes it’s hard to not want to just fix the problem. I think that’s what I would struggle with the most. Whatever situation there is, sometimes it’s completely out of the mom’s or the parent’s control. And sometimes you see that they’re not making good choices. Usually it’s because they don’t know how to make a good choice. I think the hard part for me would be wanting to fix the problem, and you can’t.
2. Show compassion to strangers
Jeff: Having compassion for people that I don’t know. I feel compassion for people who I do know that are having a rough time. It’s a blessing to help a stranger too.
3. Spend family time with the children being hosted
Amy: I do think the children value having both parents together, even though they don’t say it. It does seem like they value it because they want to do things together. I’ve been really surprised by all the different ages we’ve had. They have all seemed to enjoy time with our family.
4. Be flexible instead of controlling
Amy: A lot of these kids don’t always have food readily available. I’ve seen that if they want food, just give it to them. And you’re not going to discipline them the same. If they want the light on in the bedroom at night, there’s probably a reason why. So just be more flexible with them.
5. Involve your family in decisions to serve
Jeff: Our kids were always part of our decision to accept a hosting. We would get the details of the child or children and we would always take it to them and ask if they were ok with a hosting. Advice for other families is to involve your children because it does affect them as well.
The Oehler’s story shows the work that God does in our hearts that prepares us to serve. Serving involves flexibility balanced with determination to persevere through obstacles. God’s love for us is what grows our hearts to serve and enables us to show compassion to others.
-by Navy Schrock, Fort Wayne, Indiana chapter