Eric Porter hung up the phone heartbroken, with tears flowing down his face. As a youth pastor, he had made countless calls to authorities to report abuse, abandonment, and neglect. This particular phone call was the one that changed everything.
On that day, more than seven years ago, Porter learned that a father was beating his daughter for not making all As in school. Angry and frustrated with the lack of biblical training to help hurting families, he decided to find out what he could do.
"Like so many mandatory reporters, I didn't know what happened on the other side of that proverbial door of the hotline. I wondered what we, the Church, are doing to minister to this girl who did not sign up for her problems and what are we doing to minister to this dad who clearly has problems."
Around the same time, Porter's church, James River Church, started Cherish Kids, a church-based ministry to recruit and support families who foster and adopt. Through the ministry of Cherish Kids, he and his wife, Trisha, felt God wanted them to adopt. They took time to fast and pray. At the end of that time, they felt God wanted them to finish the paperwork. Before they could submit the paperwork, they found out they were pregnant with child number four.
"Finding out we were pregnant made us press 'pause' on the adoption. Six month later, we felt God asking us to take a leap of faith out of local ministry to work with children. We had no idea what or where, but we knew it was the next step."
In 2012, the Porters left the church where they had been on staff for almost ten years. It was a blind step of faith into orphan care ministry. Within a month, Porter had a clear vision that there would be a day when there would be more families waiting for children than children waiting for families. Essentially, the main goal would be to equip churches to create sustainable, missional strategies to care for orphans in the United States and around the world.
God directed Eric and Trisha to become Assemblies of God U.S. missionaries. Eric started working with Rick Dubose, North Texas district superintendent, and others. Together, they founded The Keep. The Keep is an intermediary that builds partnerships with organizations involved in foster care, adoption, and orphan missions, and connects them with the local church to care for orphans. Porter and his team provide training to empower the local church to create a culture of families prepared to accept the calling of orphan care.
As vice president of The Keep, Eric works with a team who is committed to building bridges of relationship to pave the way for ministry to hurting families. Eric oversees the recruitment and training of leaders to help engage the church in this ministry. As a family, the Porters are actively involved in the ministry from maintaining their family's Web site, to being a travel buddy when Eric is raising awareness and funds, to being a big brother or sister when a child needs one.
The biggest challenge Eric has faced isn't the government. In fact, it has been a welcome surprise that the local and state governments have welcomed the team. Their biggest challenge is that there are more children who need families than there are families willing and ready to take them in. The team's challenge is to build the vision in churches for their city, county, and state. "We want churches to see that caring for orphans is not just another ministry to add to their rosters, but it is truly a mandate from God. We need more high-level leaders in the states we are working with and the resources to back them up. Our prayer is that God will provide leaders and resources."
If you are interested in partnering with Eric and his team, learning more about orphan care and adoption, please visit his Web site.
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