Partnering in Service and Love
Growing up in a family who fostered, Tracy Peterson always knew fostering would someday be part of the family she and her husband, Ben, were building. Life happened as their family grew to six, including Abigail (13), Jack (11), Lucas (9), and Emiline (5). The desire to foster seemed to be pushed further and further to the back of the shelf.
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In 2014 Tracy and Abigail traveled with Back2Back, one of our ministry partners, to Monterrey, Mexico. It was the first team Fellowship Greenville had taken to Monterrey. Tracy and Abigail were able to travel with three other mother-daughter teams from their community group. [Shown right, starting on the left: Mary Beth & Ella Grace Williams; Tracy & Abigail Peterson; Sudeana & Sophie Call; Susan & Morgan Hayes] This sense of communion with others—who they were doing life with—coupled with a heart already soft toward the vulnerable child, left Tracy questioning what God wanted to do with their family.
Ben was able to travel on the next team to Monterrey in 2015, along with a few men from their community group. While there, team members were asked to write one word that they were committing to pray about in the days following their return home. Ben wrote the word: Foster! That was the beginning of Ben and Tracy partnering together with their kids to purposefully move them toward bringing foster kids into their home.
Partnership seems to be a theme as Ben and Tracy relate their story. It’s unique how God used Fellowship Greenville’s partnership with Back2Back to take the Petersons on separate trips to Monterrey. These trips, specifically Ben’s, were the catalyst used to push them to a point of action. The Petersons pursued their fostering license with Miracle Hill, a long time partner of Fellowship Greenville. Doing this provided them with a licensing agency who understands the worldview from which the Petersons consistently approach fostering.
God had already brought the Petersons to a place of deep trust with their community group. This enabled a likely partnership as those families began to wrap around them to support with prayer, meals, babysitting, and even working through the licensing process themselves in order to be able to provide respite care for the Petersons.
Partnership happened in unlikely places too. A women’s Bible study group approached leadership with the desire to serve together. The leaders of the group had already prayed and asked for God’s guidance. They both strongly felt like they wanted to partner with a foster family. No one knew what that looked like, but the group and the Petersons agreed to try it out. Ben and Tracy both tear up when they talk about this women’s group. When they were first approached, they were at what they describe as their lowest point. In fact, they were getting ready to call their licensing worker and ask them to find another home for the baby they were caring for. The news that a group of strangers wanted to love on their family gave them the push they needed to stick with that little guy for several more months as he healed physically and emotionally.
This women’s group created a prayer card with the Peterson family’s picture and specific requests for each family member. They have provided meals, diapers, and notes of encouragement as the Petersons have walked on the front lines of caring for the marginalized.
Asked what they would tell you in regards to fostering, the Petersons respond with: do what God’s calling you to do. If it’s bringing a foster kid into your home, obey—he will provide what you need daily. If it’s praying for a family, or partnering with them in a tangible way, bravely make the call to that family and begin to watch God use you! Even though fostering is hard, it’s worth the journey, they say. God is writing their family’s story with each child he brings into their home. At the same time, he’s writing the story of each child Ben, Tracy, and their kids get a chance to fall in love with. What a gift—his stories are always the very best ones!