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  • emilysarverpr

Why we love our Foster Care Ministry

Updated: Apr 8, 2019

As a Ponderosa Student Ministries board member several people over the years have asked me “Why is this ministry so important to me?”. Youth ministries have always had a large impact on my life. In 1992, I saw God move in my many ways delivering financing, workers and unbelievable results in a youth evangelistic crusade in Birmingham, Alabama. Around 2,000 youth came to know Christ during this event. After that experience, I became a founding board member of  JH Ranch (a teen and college age camp in Northern California), First Priority Ministry (a student led Christian club in middle and high schools) and was the founder, along with my wife, of the Safe Harbor Ministry (guiding parents through how to get between their child and their rebellious behavior, especially drug use).

My main passion for Ponderosa stems from my 20-year history of working with Safe Harbor where we have helped thousands of families work through adolescent drug use, from recreational use to hard-core use. Safe Harbor was the result of the struggle with my teenage rebellious daughter.

The hard-core users became my concern because some kept relapsing and overdosing, which eventually led to death. Due to the hard-core drug use during their adolescent years it often affected their ability to have meangingful relationships. Having normal relationships with parents, children and spouses or significant others often results in additional drug use and/or family violence resulting in emotional and/or physical child abuse. It has been said that 52% of kids today that are being raised by grandparents are in this situation because of a drug related circumstance.

The DHR system is experiencing a tremendous overload of work which in turn is causing a worker shortage. The Children’s Hospital in Birmingham workers have said that the largest number of their adolescent suicide attempts are foster care children or children who are being raised by their grandparents. The children coming from foster homes rarely have anyone come visit them in the hospital.

Ponderosa has for years been providing free summer camps to foster children. The results have been remarkable. The quality of the Ponderosa staff have heard unbelievable stories and have brought to light the needs of these hurting foster children. They are crying out for someone to just love them and accept them for who they are. Around 40% of all the foster children that have come to Ponderosa have accepted Christ as their Savior.

The counties around Ponderosa are sending children all over the state because they have a tremendous shortage of qualified foster parents. Church members and the general population do not know that they can be a volunteer respite worker/mentor for up to a 48 hour period as often as they want. People don’t know that there are over 1,000 foster children in Alabama alone that have parental rights already revoked and are available for immediate adoption.

Ponderosa has a vision for helping these children. We not only want to provide summer camps with effectiveness, but also, want to work with churches and communities to educate their congregation and general population on the need for foster parents, adoptions and mentors. We also have a vision for educating and training potential foster and adoption parents on how to parent a hurting child.

Ponderosa not only wants to work with the surrounding counties, but also, work with other camps and the state to reach the entire 7,000+ foster children in Alabama. Ponderosa has a vision of coordinating the multitude of Christian foster ministries in Alabama to work together to solve the foster problem in the state.

Ponderosa is a branch of Children’s Bible Ministry which oversees 16 christian summer camps. Using the churches of many denominations and the almost 900 churches of ARC (Association of Related Churches started by the Church of the Highlands in Birmingham), these 800,000 and soon to be 1.5 million children can be reached for Christ.

It is said that 65% of the girls in the foster system turn to human trafficking and prostitution when they reach 18 or 19 and exit the foster system. Others turn to crime and enter the prison system. A small number make it on their own.

The Bible states that the Church has the responsibility of caring for widows and orphans. I believe that the church should live up to its responsibility and take back the orphanage system.

If you would like to help Ponderosa reach these foster children and provide camps for other children, you can help finance our vision here by sponsoring a foster care child in need or join my dream team to figure out how to help facilitate other foster ministries in Alabama. Email me at

This is why I work with Ponderosa as a Board Member. Other board members went to Ponderosa Bible camp as a child and had a life-changing experience and a wonderful testimony. Other board members went to other camps and had life-changing experiences. Others are like me, have just seen the results from loving God and loving others well.

Paul Berry, Ponderosa Board Member

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