By Randy C. Davis
President and executive director, TBMB
Sure, we see our own children and we often see other people’s children, especially in restaurants if they are misbehaving. But do you see nobody’s children?
These are Tennessee’s nearly 8,000 children currently in foster care, an increasing number due to the opioid crisis in our state and the resulting loss of parental custody.
And do you see Tennessee’s aging population? They are the rapidly growing number of seniors in our state who will need care in the coming years.
Currently there are more than 1.1 million people in Tennessee 65 years of age and older, and that number is projected to grow by 20 percent in the next nine years (by 2030).
Sadly, more than 77,000 of those over 60 are raising their grandchildren, mostly due to the opioid crisis.
I guess what I’m asking is, do you see the desperate needs in our state for Tennessee Baptists to step in — in a tangible way — by serving as the hands and feet of Jesus and ministering with the heart of Jesus?
No doubt there is a great big open door of opportunity for Tennessee Baptists to share a compassionate gospel witness and to personally and financially minister to the needs of disenfranchised children and aging adults, especially aging adults with special needs.
The great news is that Tennessee Baptists already have in place avenues through which we can do this. The Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes and the Tennessee Baptist Adult Homes are two benevolence ministries Tennessee Baptists established and support through the Cooperative Program that are designed to care for precious people who have unfortunately become “the least of these.”
Both ministries have special offerings coming up at Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, respectively, and after the financial blow leveled this past year by the COVID-19 pandemic, your investment in these two ministries would share a rich blessing.
The Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes was established in 1891 and has been providing Christ-centered, nurturing homes for children in hard circumstances ever since.
In 2013, TBCH partnered with Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS) to provide certified foster families across the state for children who come into state custody.
In 2018, TBCH launched its Family Care initiative to provide resources to families and churches who are caring for children. Many of these children come out of extremely difficult situations and ultimately come to know the kind arms of a loving Savior through TBCH’s ministry.
As that opportunity grew, TBAH began working with Baptists across the state in providing a residential ministry for adults with exceptional needs. Today, TBAH has eight ministry facilities providing Christian care and homes for 200-plus senior adults in retirement and for exceptional adults.
TBAH also hosts two weeks of “Special Friends Camp” every summer where approximately 280 intellectually and physically challenged adult campers are loved and served.
Unfortunately, the groups of people served by these two great ministries are often overlooked in our socieity.
Either people don’t see the need or look away from the need. Jesus knew that, and we read in Matthew 25 that the mark of a true disciple of Christ is one who ministers to the underserved and disenfranchised out of love for our Savior, and they will one day be pleasantly surprised when the King turns to them and says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (v. 40).
As Tennessee Baptists scan our state’s landscape, may we see with eyes of compassion focused with the gaze of generosity. May God reveal to us that any way you slice it, Tennessee is a mission field.
It is a joy to be on this journey with you. B&R