Rev. Nick Emery and his wife, Melanie, have long been advocates for vulnerable children, both having served as Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers, foster parents and eventually becoming the proud parents of three siblings through foster care adoption. Emery has served since 2013 as lead pastor of the only Wesleyan church in Nevada, Hope Crossing Community Church in Carson City. Along with his second vocation as executive director of Life Choices, a Christian crisis pregnancy center, God has used the Emerys and their small church to make a big impact on the unborn and vulnerable children of their community.
Emery notes that in their community of 55,000, there are currently approximately 90 active cases of children in foster care, but there simply are not enough homes for these children. As a result, children in the Carson City area who enter foster care must live in separate homes from their siblings and even in other communities.
“This is not an isolated experience,” said Emery. “Many children across our nation are in need of foster families and forever families who will come along side of them, support them and love them while in care. Not everyone will be a foster parent or adopt, but anyone can do something.”
Recognizing Orphan Sunday each November has become a valuable annual tradition at Hope Crossing, creating awareness and opportunities for serving vulnerable children. (This year, Orphan Sunday is November 10.) Emery has witnessed compassion rise in his church and community every time they have hosted an Orphan Sunday event, whether they have held a simple Orphan Sunday Prayer Night to pray for those involved in foster care or organized events and projects designed to engage with and support vulnerable children and their families.
The Emerys have sparked a movement in their community, and hosting Orphan Sunday events in their church has given neighboring churches a chance to join their efforts or find other unique ways to respond. These partnerships have also resulted in families from four area congregations becoming foster and adoptive families.
“We want to see there be more than enough homes for children in need,” said Emery. “Fostering or helping children in care is a powerful way we can truly show the hope of Jesus Christ.” Emery also believes “that not one prayer or act of kindness goes unnoticed with a child in care — because sometimes, that’s the first of its kind in their lives.”
Melanie and a friend have taken efforts to the next level by developing a retention program curriculum focused on supporting foster and adoptive families, which is being used in their region of Nevada. Nick is a leader in the Pacific Southwest Wesleyan District, taking every opportunity to share the vision for the local church’s role in helping solve the child welfare crisis and, in 2019, creating a district-wide Orphan Sunday campaign to encourage churches to get involved.
Emery extends this powerful challenge: “The Church has a beautiful opportunity to be the leaders in each community as it serves vulnerable children in their region. John 14:18 says, ‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.’ God’s bride is that movement of servant leaders who can serve and love these children in need that have been placed within our reach.”
With an estimated 400,000 children throughout the U.S. living without permanent families, and over 100,000 of those orphans (eligible for adoption), do you know how many children are in need of foster and adoptive homes in your community? Have you sought to understand how God has uniquely equipped you and your local church to help fill the gaps in care and support?
For more information on Orphan Sunday, click here.
Learn more about HEPHZIBAH62:4, a revisioned subsidiary organization of The Wesleyan Church dedicated to equipping and mobilizing local Wesleyan churches to transform the lives of vulnerable children.
Learn more about CAFO2020, the Christian Alliance for Orphans’ annual summit. Hephzibah62:4 will hold a shoulder event as an opportunity for Wesleyans to gather at this May 2020 event.