Clergy Couple Challenges the Church to Stand Together to Help Foster Children this Christmas
By Lindsay Peyton - En Español
Becca and Steven Newcomb are in ministry as a foster family. She serves as associate pastor at FUMC Longview, while he is senior pastor at Winterfield UMC. Together, they have experienced a strengthening of faith through the fostering experience – and have witnessed their congregations helping out in numerous ways. They also feel that Christ compels all churches to do more for children in need.
Two angel Christmas ornaments greeted associate pastor Becca Newcomb, a gift from a member of her church FUMC Longview.
The card read, “Maybe these angels will make you smile today, another hard Tuesday.”
It’s a tough day of the week for the Newcomb family, Becca explained. It’s the day the couple brings their two foster children for their weekly visit with CPS.
The Christmas ornaments were given as a reminder that the Newcomb’s church family prays for them every Tuesday. It’s just one of the ways that the congregation has rallied around the Newcomb family.
In fact, two congregations have formed a support system for the family. Becca’s church combines with Winterfield UMC, where her husband Steven serves as senior pastor, to help the couple in whatever way possible.
Becca said that both churches have gifted the foster children with clothes, cribs and strollers. “Both congregations stepped up to love us and to love our kids,” she said.
Being a foster parent is difficult for any individual, Becca said.
“Navigating our own lives is enough,” she said. “But as the body of Christ, not as individuals, we are not only able, we are called, convicted and directed to be involved.”
As a church, Becca said, everyone can stand together to help children in need. “These kids are in unsafe, unhealthy, unloving conditions,” she said. “Those kids need the church family.”
Steven always knew that he wanted to foster. “It’s something that has been on his heart,” Becca said.
She, however, wasn’t sure. She worried about how difficult it would be to juggle the needs of foster children with the needs of her congregation – and she thought about how sad the couple would be when the children left their home to be adopted or returned to their original families.
“We talked about it for a long time,” Becca said. “Finally, we decided to pray on it separately and together. We set a date. We weren’t going to decide anything until then. We weren’t even going to discuss it.”
That was September 2018. They gave each other two months to pray on the topic.
Then, a woman came to the church and shared her own story with CPS. Becca was so touched, that she cried to Steven, “How long are we going to wait to help these kids?”
The Newcombs went on a camping trip, and sitting around the fire, pledged to help out foster children. Upon returning, they started researching foster agencies and found their match with Methodist Children’s Home. Headquartered in Waco, the organization has community programs throughout Texas and New Mexico.
The first time the Newcombs fostered lasted only five days. “You instantly fall in love,” Becca said.
When they had to part with their child, they cried the whole way home. Still, Becca said, they reminded themselves, that no matter how difficult the experience was for them as parents, the situation is more challenging for the child. Foster parents have to be strong so children can have a better transition.
“The kids in this situation don’t have a choice,” Becca said. “If good people don’t stand up for them, we feel that’s unacceptable in the Kingdom of God. We don’t run away because something is sad. We have to run to it. There’s no such thing as other people’s children in the Kingdom of God.”
Not everyone should foster or adopt, Becca said. Still, everyone in the church can play a role, whether that means becoming a trained babysitter for a foster family or simply praying for a foster child.
Church members can make donations to help a foster family, and they can offer love and support. “And there’s a pretty big chance that someone in your church has a kid they’ve adopted or is fostering,” Becca said.
In her county along, she explained there are 40 foster homes and 120 cases. The need for foster parents is great.
Individuals can also become CASA volunteers to serve as advocates on behalf of a child. “Being a CASA volunteer is a great way to help,” Becca said. “Having someone in the room who knows the pieces and parts and has a relationship with the kids, it matters. It really matters.”
Another way to assist foster families, Becca added, is to do something nice for social workers in the area. “There are little things people can do to help, like taking them a tray of bagels,” Becca said.
The Newcombs are now caring for two foster babies – and they hope to inspire others to consider opening their homes to a foster child.
“If one family in every church said, ‘Not on our watch,’ and their congregation rallied around them and said they’d help, it would change how kids in our country grow up,” Becca said. “It could change everything.”
Being a foster parent is challenging. “But just because these children are in complicated situations doesn’t mean they don’t need love now,” Becca said. “It’s about showing the love of Christ through your consistent presence.”
Fostering helps build stronger families in the community in the long run, she added.
“We want to partner with families so generational brokenness doesn’t continue,” Becca said. “To create a healthy family, you need to be in one. Sometimes, your family of origin is not that. Sometimes, your church family needs to be that instead.”
And in the Christmas season, she can’t help but think of baby Jesus and his family who were so in need of help.
“I don’t think Christ calls us to the easy stuff,” Becca said. “There’s no way that the Christ who shows up in a manger, and then becomes a refugee, would be interested in our excuses when it comes to kids who need a home.”
Churches are called to search for a solution, she explained. “We’re a part of the rescue and redemption mission,” she said. “It’s a beautiful invitation.”
Being a foster parent also strengthens Becca’s own faith. She often feels Christ instructing her through the process.
“He’s telling me that I’m not the boss of this world,” she said. “He is. My job is not to decide what to do or how to feel but to trust and to keep my hands wide open. Hard things might be placed in them, but I know I won’t have to hold onto them on my own.”
God writes people in hearts – and helps to carry that love, Becca explained.
“My life is so beautifully chaotic and so blessedly difficult, and in the midst of that, I feel held by God,” she said. “It’s been the best thing in my life, because it’s what God called us to do.”
Becca welcomes questions about fostering – and is happy to provide advice. Email her at email@example.com.In addition, Becca recommends reaching out to Rev. Amy Bezecny, who founded Cultivating Families, a non-profit that inspires faith-based communities to care for foster and adopted children. For more information, visit cultivatingfamilies.org.