Sacrificial Love

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“Loving a child, knowing that I would likely let them go sooner than I expected is one of the most painful things I’ve ever done. Yet, we are walking away from this first experience with a greater appreciation of Christ’s sacrificial love for us.” – Christman Fifer

“I’ve been through many trials, from the chronic pain of scoliosis, to struggling with a learning difference throughout my school years, to the death of my first wife,” said Christman Fifer. “But loving a child, knowing that I would likely let him go sooner than I expected is one of the most painful things I’ve ever done. Yet, we are walking away from this first experience with a greater appreciation of Christ’s sacrificial love for us.

“One of my favorite verses is Micah 6:8, which I thought really applied when I found out about the huge need for families to serve foster children in the state of Texas. Children from two weeks to 13 years old are screaming, ‘I need help,’ and not all of them are receiving any assistance or mercy. I looked at serving as a foster parent as an act of obedience in helping the orphan and the needy (James 1:27). God has given me the privilege of serving in many ways here at Watermark, from helping to start up the parking team to serving in Starting Blocks. This was just another way to serve Him.

“My wife, Sarah, and I went through the training required before a family can foster a child. I learned that restoration of the relationship between the parent and the child is at the heart of foster care. Reconciliation is at the heart of our relationship with Christ, so our hope was to encourage a Christ-centered relationship between our foster child and his mother. Our foster son came to us when he was three weeks old, and we had the privilege of caring for him for the first eight months of his life. We love him so much, and he really became a huge part of our family.

“While a child is in foster care, the relationship between the foster child and biological mom is up to the foster parent. Every week, Sarah would drive for an hour (one way) in order to get our foster son to his one-hour, weekly visit with his mother. Sarah eventually asked if she could meet our foster son’s mother, and that opened the opportunity for her to tell the mother that we loved her son and were praying for her daily. This turned out to be a significant moment.

“Many times, the relationship between a foster family and a child’s parents is adversarial. Often there is a perception that the foster parents want the biological parent to fail so the child can be adopted. That was not the case for us, and part of loving our foster son was caring for his mother. So, Sarah shared photos, notes, and videos with his mother, and we prayed that a relationship would develop.

“Serving as a foster parent also gave me a crash course on what families in need are facing. Immediately the gap between a family in need and my life became obvious. God had provided more than enough for myself, my wife, and our girls. None of that was of my own doing, it was all because of God’s generosity toward us. Remembering that God was the one who provided for us materially and spiritually enabled me to love and empathize with our foster child’s family on a deeper level.

“We always knew that if his mother made progress, that he would be back with her when the time was right. Logically, we knew that was the best thing for him. But loading him into his seat and watching him drive away was one of the most painful things I’ve ever done. It changed our lives forever.

“This grief is a little different from others I’ve experienced in the past because God is giving me a portion of peace every day and reminding me to trust Him. I still get very emotional, but the Lord helped me do what He needs me to do next. Sarah and I have an incredibly strong support system within our vast community of friends and family.

“Fostering a child has opened up so many conversations about the Lord with people who are curious about the process. It’s also given me a new perspective on grace that I didn’t have over my lifetime of knowing the Lord. The greatest example of sacrificial love is what Christ did for us on the cross. Sacrificial love is a big part of being a foster parent. I’ve learned that when you are caring for any child, whether it is a foster child or a biological child, if it doesn’t hurt sometimes, you’re not doing it right. I could not love my children sacrificially without the love that’s been passed down to me from Christ. I may never know what impact that love will have on our foster child’s future, but God does.”