As a Marriage and Family Counselor, when I work with clients, one of the first things we discuss are goals. So often people are wanting to make changes in their lives because of the problems, the difficulties or the grief that their issues are causing them. More often, though, I find that even though people want to make changes, they do not know exactly what change would look like. What exactly would be different should they accomplish a change?

I use the simple illustration of a target. You have to know the target to know if you actually reached it. You have to know exactly what you are seeking so that you’ll know when you find it.

As one called to serve you and lead the ministry we know as the Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services, I have spent much time considering where it is that we are to go. What is our target? How will we know when we get there? What will it look like? What will we be doing?

Throughout scripture, we are reminded of the value of vision, calling and focus. Imagine Noah, who had to be the most focused, yet patient man of God. For many years (various thoughts range anywhere from 55 to over 100 years), he labored to build the ark without even the slightest understanding of the gravity of what was to come. However, he had plans and focus, and he knew his target, which was to build a one-of-a-kind floating fortress because God had told him to do so.

God has told us to serve here. Though my gift is not prophecy, nor do I have the fix to many of the cultural and societal concerns we face today, I do believe God continues to have a purpose and plan for your ministry at the Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services. That plan continues to unfold through His timing. Nevertheless, He calls us to be faithful stewards and to consider the plans and direction for our future. Just like the founding fathers of this ministry who didn’t see past a need for orphan care, they nevertheless pursued their call, and from that evolved a ministry that has impacted tens of thousands.

So, what are our plans? Where are we going? Using our Mission as our constant guide, we are considering how we might impact this generation as well as the next. That may include a more diverse ministry service array. The needs, as we see them today, are to publicly express and promote our belief in the sanctity of life, to care for those who cannot care for themselves, and to reach into a world of darkness to offer hope in Jesus. There are service and ministry needs in our state for children caught in the dark, abusive world of human trafficking. There are children in our communities who are struggling because of poverty and unsafe living environments. The opioid crisis is devastating families and killing both parents and children. There’s a need for fostering-to-adopt couples, especially those willing to take an older child or teenager, or a child with exceptional health or emotional challenges. There is a generation of children without any exposure to church, faith or the Gospel. Perhaps these are our targets.

Also, as a ministry, we must address the aging infrastructure of our facilities. Our homes are approaching 70 years of age, and their design is not workable for more contemporary needs and requirements. We must address the emotional and mental health problems with which our children and adults often struggle. We must create a therapeutic environment that surrounds each person we serve with the internal and external support that they need.

In Judges 2: 6-10, the death of Joshua is recorded. Joshua, who was given the responsibility and privilege to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land after Moses’ death, dies at the age of 110. Verse 10, however, is a very troubling record of a terrible reality. The second half of this verse reads “… and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, not yet the work which He had done for Israel.”

How terribly tragic that with Joshua’s death and the death of his generation, another generation rose up who did not know the Lord. Let that not be said of us. Let us work to carry the message of the Gospel to this generation and the one to come – those who will follow when we are gone.

This begins now. The emergence of a generation who lacked knowledge of the Lord did not just happen because of the death of the generation before them; it occurred because the living generation at the time did not continue to tell their children and their grandchildren about the work of the Lord.

Join me in praying for BCHFS. Pray that the Lord’s plans be our plans. Pray that He will awaken a new generation to this ministry who will work to carry it for the next 100 years. Find ways to share the story of God’s work at BCHFS. Tell your children and your grandchildren. Tell your neighbors and your church family.

Thank you for your support. This ministry operates for no other reason than to bring the Gospel to a people group called family and children. We operate to plant seeds, to water them, and to see them grow in the work of the Lord, while helping to protect, heal and restore. We are able to do this without state or federal money. We are able to do this without Cooperative Program dollars. We are able to do this because of you, the one reading this very article.

It is the gifts from individuals and churches across our state and even state lines, across the Southern Baptist Convention and the Illinois Baptist State Association and sometimes even denominational lines, that are changing lives today and preparing us to respond to their needs tomorrow. To each and every one of you, we express a deep appreciation. May God bless you and your service to Him!