Thousands of youth in foster care are in need of permanent homes. One small church in East Texas is stepping up and making a difference. Leading by example, the pastor of the church adopted four kids, and encouraged his congregation to open their hearts and homes, too. Members of Bennett Chapel Baptist Church, in Possum Trot have adopted more than 70 foster kids after the pastor, Bishop W.C. Martin and his wife Donna, started a chain reaction. KTBS 3 sat down with the Martin's in their home in Center, Texas and received a little insight into how they're changing the world.
"It feels like this is where I came from, because I don't know anything about where I was. I've been here since I was two years old. They feel like my real mama and daddy and my real sisters and brothers." Tyler martin was adopted by bishop martin and his wife Donna. He says, having a place to call home, changed his life. "They brought me a long way, helped me through a lot of stuff."
It all started when Donna Martin, who is one of 18 children, lost her mother. She says, she was so hurt and looked for spiritual guidance on what to do next."The Spirit of God says, okay, I heard you, but this is what I want you to do, foster and adopt. Give back to those children that didn't have what you had in a mother."
And according to adoption officials, there are a lot of children in Texas in need. In 2004, there were more than 28 thousand children in foster care but there were less than 8 thousand licensed foster homes. And African American kids are 44 times more likely to be placed in foster care. The Martins are asking everyone, especially black churches, to lend these kids a helping hand. Bishop W.C. Martin says, "Adoption is not a possum trot or Bennett Chapel thing. This is a worldwide endeavor that we all need to be a part of and take part in." Donna Martin chimes in, "We've always been a community to take care of our own, and where ever we've broken that link, we need to get back because it's our responsibility to take care of our own." And Bishop Martin continues, "God has a purpose for what we're doing here and it's to show, if they can do this down in Bennett Chapel, in the woods, then they can do this anywhere."
That one small congregation has adopted a total of seventy six children. For more information on fostering or adopting, you go can to www.adoptuskids.org.