It is a hard decision to choose whether or not to become a host family,. Often times, it involves weighing the “pros and cons” and running through the logistics of how to make it all work, only to feel uncertainty if it is even possible.
It can be rattling to welcome a child into your home—into your life rhythm—but, it can also be an experience that is transformative, as one finds the real, raw love of Christ in action.
In the Chicago area, an example of extraordinary hospitality from a small church of young men and women who took the leap despite that uncertainty, is unfolding.
In the greater Chicago area, one will find Community Cup Church of the Nazarene, a plant church of 3 years, and a community lead church for Safe Families. The average age within the congregation is 28 years old, and there are about 50 people who worship there—all of whom have a passion for being the hands and feet of Christ to their neighbor.
When the pastors of the church, Makenzie and Mario Flores, began hosting a two-year-old boy for many months through Safe Families, that began their journey with Safe Families as a congregation. Their Church surrounded, supported, and cared for the family and little boy as the hosting continued, and it birthed the desire for others to serve in the capacity.
As a result, many newly married couples and single individuals—recently out of college—stepped into the role of being a host family for children in need in the Chicagoland area.
Those who have not been certified for hosting, stepped into the role of family friends and help provide tangle assistance for those hosting. Mariah Garratt, Community Cup Ministry Lead, supports all of the volunteers and those in the Kankakee county that do not attend a SFFC church, as well as hosts herself.
The Two Families
Recently, a single, young host mom opened her home to siblings, a one and two-year-old, who had been living in their car. The woman’s sister, who attends Community Cup Church and is also a single host parent, was there for her support during the hosting. A fellow member of the Community Cup Church, Bry Williams, who was also a host parent and a volunteer coach, would drop in and check on the sisters to provide any help they needed—she was hosting at the same time.
Monday evening, 3 days after the single host mom had taken in the siblings, the youngest spiked a high fever, and it was not coming down with Tylenol.
The child was known to have some previous medical concerns while living in the car, therefore the sisters were instructed to take the child to the hospital.
The single host mom, not wanting to go alone as this was all new to her, asked Williams to accompany her. Arrangements were made, including having her sister stay home with the oldest, and having another Community Cup Church member, who was also a single host parent, watch Williams host child. With this support, the two were able to take the child to the ER.
The child’s test results are still pending, but the doctor suspects COVID. This meant the child needed things like Motrin. However, when they left the hospital, it was too late at night, and all the stores were closed.
Amazingly, at dawn the next morning, another Community Cup Church member, who was not a host, ran to the store to get the supplies needed for the child, and dropped them off at the single host mom’s door by 7am, so she had all she needed to care for the baby.
Despite the risk of contracting the virus, after it had been determined it was more than likely the child had the virus, the members of Community Cup Church stepped up with radical hospitality. They were willing to surround this single host mom, supporting her in the uncertainty, and loving the vulnerable child in the midst.
“Community Cup, a church of 50, mostly young, single and newly married people, none of which have their own children except the pastors, host children when they are called upon and there is a need.” Flores states as a call to action for those who think they aren’t capable.
The community they have created, and the way they support each other, families in crisis, and all involved in the cases, has shown them first-hand the radical hospitality of Christ.
These young individuals are setting an example for all those who feel defeated and fearful of stepping out and joining the Safe Families cause.
They prove that through determination, with the love of Christ, and having support, anyone can get involved as a host family, changing the life track for a family, impacting a child.
Learn more about Safe Families and how your or your church can get involved, click HERE