On August 12, 2011 I sat in a conference and was asked to make a pact with God about my future. I wrote the following down on a stone:
“August 12, 2011, I will have the faith to begin. I will follow. I will give till it hurts. And you will rescue me. Then I will tell your story”
This is the moment that I knew that God was calling me to be an advocate. This is the moment when I knew that God was moving me and placing me in a position that was vulnerable, unknown to me, and to be frankly honest, it scared me a little. Who was I to take on such a task? Who was I that God would use me in this way? But I heard him sternly say in that still small voice “just have the faith to begin.”
Since that day, I have carried that stone with me to meetings, I have placed it on my desk, and I have shown it to friends and family. This pact between myself and God, these words that I wrote on this stone, are a constant reminder of what I was called to do that day and I have really enjoyed watching how God has brought those words to life over the past year....
“I will follow.” By God’s grace I followed him to The Forgotten Initiative and gave up my position at the Children’s Home. Never in a million years did I think that I would leave that job, but God had something more for me. It felt like jumping off a cliff into the unknown, but now I realize that I didn’t have to “know,” because God did. I have never been more happy.
“I will give till it hurts.” My husband and I got our foster parenting license and this experience has already been flooded with emotion, pain, and strife, but we remain confident that it is what God is asking us to do, even when it hurts. We battle with our flesh every day and selfishly crave comfort. I often times wonder how much God will ask us to give of ourselves in this journey, but I know that he will reveal all of that to us one step at a time. Asking us to do only what he knows we can handle at that specific moment.
“And you will rescue me.” I truly believe and have experienced in this journey on multiple occasions that my God is faithful. He doesn’t promise a life of doom and gloom even though he asks us to do hard things. He promises to rescue us and to give us life! He promises a reward in heaven and joy in the journey that is so unspeakable. There have been so many times that I have been flat on my face crying out to God for comfort and the next day I find myself feeling full of joy, even when the circumstances haven’t changed. Even when from someone elses perspective I shouldn’t of had joy, yet somehow in God’s goodness, I did. But mostly, I have learned in the last year that when God rescues, he doesn’t give us a life of paradise. He doesn’t take away our hardships. He uses those things to bring us closer to him and in doing so he rescues us from ourselves. This has been true for me especially in my foster parenting journey. I have needed those kids, more than they have needed me.
“Then I will tell your story.” As an advocate, I get to see the Body of Christ meet the needs. Sometimes people are drawn to the needs in miraculous ways and it proves to me that God, is the real advocate. It is not me. I couldn’t have made this stuff happen if I tried. God is just giving me a front row seat and asking me to tell the story of what he is doing. He is asking me to share with you that his heart is broken over the foster care community and that we as the Body of Christ need to also be broken. We need to hurt for these families and hurt for these kids. We need to be willing to have the faith to begin whatever he is calling us to do for these people. We need to have the courage to follow God, even when it means we could experience pain or the road ahead looks tough, because in the end it is not about us. It is about God rescuing us, the families, the vulnerable adults, the foster children, the foster care workers……God wants to rescue all of us.
On August 12, 2011 I made a pact with God and I wrote it on a stone. Close to a year later, I can see that my God is up to something. He is moving to reach the foster care community, and he is using the Body of Christ to do it! He wants to make a pact with YOU. He wants YOU to step out in faith and trust Him. In whatever he is calling YOU to do, he wants YOU to trust that He is with YOU, just like he has been with me in the last year. He wants to knock your socks off when he answers your prayers in supernatural ways. And when he does…….will you reveal the pact you made and tell us the story of how he rescued you? I would love to celebrate Him with you!
Jessi Esterling, Director of Operations Jessi and her husband Zach have two sons and are also foster parents. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the former Director of Foster Care at the Children’s Home Association of Illinois, Jessi has worked in the foster care arena since 2003 where she experienced the overwhelming needs of this community. Jessi began volunteering for The Forgotten Initiative soon after its founding and in December 2012, she became the full-time Director of Operations.