Larry McEndarfer, Montgomery, AL
Bro. Larry McEndarfer, briefly share your ministry background.
After attending Jackson College of Ministries, I returned to my home church in Paw Paw, Michigan. I pastored there from 1986 until 1996, then moved to Montgomery, Alabama, and have been there twenty-five years. I serve as Pastor of Pentecostal Life Church, and I’ve served as the Alabama state Youth President and in various roles in Michigan and Alabama.
Share your testimony of how you got into fostering and what the experience has been for you and your family.
In March of 2020, I preached a pro-life message. Following the service, I was invited to attend a foster parent meeting. If I was going to preach it, what was I going to do about it? I explained I could not foster at that time, but I agreed to do respite. Respite is a break of forty-eight hours that you take a child from a foster parent to give them and the child rest. Basically, that’s forty-eight hours for you to spoil that child.
I went through the licensing process and background check, and because of COVID, it took longer to do that and get my training. I got my foster care license in January 2021, and in May I took my first respite. The rest is history. He was twelve, and I took him for a weekend and two other children for a weekend for three weeks in a row. Later, instead of a two-day weekend, I was asked to take the first boy for five days. Then in June, I took him for seven days and two days in July. He fit beautifully into my family. He’s been around our church for a couple of years, but the woman who cared for him has health problems and attends when she can. In September I was asked to take him as a placement, and I became a foster parent. The rewards have far outweighed the adjustments. In one service he went to the altar on his own. I went to him and asked him how he felt. He turned to me, his eyes big, and said, “I talked to God!” This was huge for him due to what he has been through.
Why should Apostolics consider becoming foster parents?
According to Christian Services in Selma, in the state of Alabama alone, on any given night, there are 2,000 children without a bed. They’ve been removed from a home due to a threat to their life. There are a hundred churches in Alabama, and as far as I know, we have no foster parenting program in our fellowship. Although Tupelo Children’s Mansion and Lighthouse Ranch for Boys do a great job, they alone cannot meet the needs. To house the 2,000-child need in Alabama, each church would need to take in twenty children a night.
The goal of fostering is to reconcile them with their families. The foster care system is an untapped harvest field for Apostolics. If they can’t be reconciled to their family, they become adoptable as my boy has. This is their last hope! If we truly want to minister to our world, we need to meet the foster parenting need.
What are the pros and cons of fostering? It’s obviously not always easy, but it can be rewarding.
You must have patience and love to be a foster parent. You’re taking children who may not understand your normal, and you may not understand their normal. You bring them into a perfectly loving environment, and they don’t know how to respond. The pro is that you affect them with love and kindness. The con is you’ve got to be willing to move out of your comfort zone to understand the depth of the mire they come out of.
What are the requirements for being a foster parent? Are there any restrictions on introducing them to church, truth, and a Christian way of life?
Each state Department of Human Resources (DHR) has its own specific guidelines. There are requirements such as smoke detectors and having a fire extinguisher, etc., but they will walk you through all of that. They’ve been very cordial to me.
All three children I’ve had attended church and Sunday school with me. If you live it in front of them, they will start asking questions, and you can answer those questions. If they’re in your home, you’re going to be teaching them. A Bread Promise box on my table is my way of introducing my boy to the Word. We discuss the Scripture he pulls out before we eat.
As a foster parent, you have the right to say no. For example, if you have a child that does not follow your house guidelines, the DHR will work with you to address any problems. It is important to note, I don’t force my holiness guidelines on any child, but I do encourage them toward those convictions and explain why.
Some Apostolics have encountered childhoods as these abused children have. Do you feel their input could have an impact on a Foster Parenting network within our organization?
We need a network of those in our fellowship that understands the need for a foster parenting program. This is a revival waiting to happen.
Sis. Vickie Hodges, who formed Life Conferences, shared her heart-wrenching life story in the IBC Perspectives. She said, “While traveling through my own personal emotional healing journey and finally transformation, I’ve come to the realization that guilt, shame, and worthlessness are the three strongest chains that paralyze us.”
Bro. Kenneth Nobel’s book Cinderella Boy details his cruel life as a young boy, surviving only with the help of God. He pursued a college education and served as the Dean of Distance Learning and an instructor at IBC.
What should a foster parent expect when it comes to regular visits and evaluation by the fostering system?
The visits are once per week for about fifteen minutes. They meet with the child privately and then with the foster parent. I’ve never had any issues with them coming to my home. We are gracious to them and give gifts showing we are thankful for their sacrifices. This teaches the child to give to others.
Is there a support network for Apostolic Foster Parents or Christian Foster Parents in general?
As far as I know, there isn’t a support network for either.
If our readers have any questions, can they contact you?
Yes. They can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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