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    A Father to the Fatherless

    Why I opened my heart and home to foster children. June 14, 2019 by Captain Brent Haas
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    Cpts Melissa and Brent Haas with Philip, now a chef in the Canadian military
    Cpts Melissa and Brent Haas with Philip, now a chef in the Canadian military
    I can’t do it—I’ll get too attached. That was my response whenever my wife, Melissa, brought up the idea of becoming foster parents. From early in our marriage, her sense of purpose and passion to make a difference in the lives of children and youth through fostering had been clear. But my consistent answer was, “I can’t.”

    I knew the need for foster parents was great, and it wasn’t that I had no desire to respond. I just couldn’t imagine how I would deal with the emotions when the time came for a child to leave—a child I had grown to love and care for as my own.

    Thankfully, Melissa was understanding and patient with me, and no matter where I turned, I couldn’t escape it. There was the TV ad campaign, called “Foster a Future,” that spoke about the shortage of foster homes in Newfoundland and Labrador. Then we were appointed to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., a town with one of the highest rates of children in care in the province. One of my daily devotions was titled “a father to the fatherless.” At church on Sundays, we sang, “This is amazing grace—who makes the orphan a son and daughter.”

    Just when I thought God could speak no louder, I walked into church and right there on a table in the foyer were brochures on fostering. I went into the office and asked Melissa, “Did you see this?”

    “Yes, but before you ask, I had nothing to do with it!” she responded. “A social worker dropped in and asked if she could place them in our church and, of course, I said yes.”

    With all these signs around me, and a wife who kept the topic at the forefront of so many conversations, I started to think about fostering in a different way. The pivotal moment came when I asked myself, Who is this really about? If it was simply about me and how I might be negatively affected, then clearly, I couldn’t do it. But if it was about the children and youth who needed help, the lives I could touch and the love of Jesus I could share, then I could.

    Cpts Brent and Melissa Haas with PhilipPhilip lived with Cpts Brent and Melissa Haas for his final year of high school
    Changing my answer to the question of “who” was the beginning of our journey with foster parenting. In March 2016, less than 24 hours after saying “yes,” we received our first phone call about a teen who wanted to finish his final year of high school with a family.

    I Wouldn’t Change a Thing

    Since then, we have welcomed five children and youth into our home. Each one of them has become part of our family and holds a special place in our hearts. Fostering has brought some of the greatest joy I have ever experienced to my life and ministry. But to be honest, it has also brought the greatest sorrow.

    When I look back at my early reservations about fostering—“I’ll get too attached”—I had no idea how true those words would prove to be. I did become too attached to a child we fostered for 18 months. When she had to leave our home, I experienced a deep sense of loss and emptiness. I didn’t know it was possible to cry so many tears. Until this point in my life, I had never been so filled with emotion that I had to fight for my next breath.

    I can hardly believe that I am writing these words, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I want to do this as long as my health and strength allow. I can’t imagine my life without fostering.

    I agreed to start this journey because I wanted to see lives transformed, but ultimately, it is my life that has been transformed. Even my faith and understanding of God as a heavenly Father has been deepened by fostering. The song How Deep the Father’s Love for Us will never be the same for me, especially the line, “The Father turns his face away.” I know what that’s like now, because it was too painful to look as a child left our home for the final time. As I have learned to love as a father, I have gained a new understanding of the Father’s love.

    The Answer to “Why”

    When I share my experience, many people ask why. Why would you do this? Why would you put yourself through this torture? Why do you continue to take new children? Answering the question “who” started this journey. Answering the question “why” is what makes me committed to fostering for the rest of my life.
    I agreed to start this journey because I wanted to see lives transformed, but ultimately, it is my life that has been transformed.
    When I witness a child grow socially and cognitively by living in a stable home where they receive unconditional love, I am reminded of why I am doing this. When I watch a 14-month-old child establish attachments that will forever impact her ability to form healthy relationships, I am reminded of why I am doing this. When I think about kneeling at the mercy seat with my seven-year-old foster son as he made a choice to follow Jesus, the same age I was when I made the same decision, I am reminded of why I am doing this. The list could go on and on, and it is the “why” that keeps me going on the most difficult days.

    Why am I sharing my journey of being a father to the fatherless? Because the need is so great. In Canada, there are close to 30,000 foster children, age 14 and under, according to the most recent census. There are not enough foster homes.

    But most of all, God calls us to care for and be a father or mother to those who have no parents. He calls us to speak for those who are not able to speak for themselves. He calls us to care for those who are not able to care for themselves.

    More Gained Than Lost

    Is God calling you to be a foster parent? To provide a short-term home, while the long-term solution is being worked out? To offer respite care for a foster family? To start a support group at your church for parents with children in care or for foster parents? To be a church that loves, nurtures and supports the foster children in your congregation and community? There are so many ways that each and every one of us can make a difference. Fostering can be a way to live out our mission to share the love of Jesus Christ, meet human needs and be a transforming influence in our communities.

    You could say you have too much to lose. I said the same thing, until I realized I had so much more to give. How unfortunate that a child might never know a father’s love or experience God’s love because of our unwillingness to experience loss, so that some of the most vulnerable in our society might gain.

    For me, fostering has meant denying myself and choosing to take up a cross that for so long I cast aside. I started fostering to bring transformation to the lives of others, and I trust that has and will continue to be the case. But in the end, my life has been transformed. I am not the same husband, son, friend, pastor or Christian. I will never be the same.

    If you are waiting for a sign to start your journey of fostering, I pray God might use my story to encourage you. Or perhaps you never planned to be a foster parent. It was never part of my plan, either, but clearly it was always part of God’s plan.

    Captain Brent Haas is the corps officer at Happy Valley-Goose Bay Corps, N.L. He is appointed to Fairview Citadel, Halifax, effective June 28, 2019.

    Comment

    On Wednesday, June 19, 2019, Trula Andrews said:

    Enjoyed reading your story, keep up the good work with the children.. God’s Blessing on you both as you work in His vineyard..

     

    On Monday, June 17, 2019, Yvonne Jones said:

    A beautiful story of answering the call to action. In labrador we have been lifted up by the mission of Capt Brent and Capt Mellissa Haas, their presence in our community has strengthened our own call to action, our own sense of community and pushed out despair in favour of Hope. Their personal engagement with people and involvement in Christian lead initiatives inspired people from all corners to reach out. They have established the Salvation Army in the true mantra of its work, inclusive of all people In worship and missionary work. We will miss them both and wish them success in all aspects of their life. May God Bless them and all who surround them.

     

    On Saturday, June 15, 2019, Catherine Clance said:

    I cannot find words to express the admiration and respect I have in my heart for you and Melissa as you continue to do God’s work and I know you have only just begun!

    Even though I’m still not as old as Nan Hewlett but trust me, I’m working on it! I believe that our God has even greater plants for you in the future. Fairview undoubtedly needs you and I wish you every happiness in your new Corps.

    Seems like I haven’t seen you in way too long........many apple pies ago! BTW, I need a gardener too.

    Don’t know if you are coming to La Scie this summer but next time I’m in Halifax on a Sunday, I could show up at Fairview Citadel.

    I pray God’s blessing on you both and the good work you do. Oh, maybe you should get a puppy too!

    Love you both, Catherine

     

    On Saturday, June 15, 2019, Beulah Pardy said:

    Brent and Melissa. You are such a beautiful couple, I remember watching you Brent and Melissa come out of Sunday School, hop in the car and take off. I used to say” Them two are going to get together, I betcha. I was right and I believe you are both where you were destined to be from the beginning. God had his hand on you as single youth and brought you to where you are today. May you continue to foster those precious little children and youth and reap the blessings they will bring you. As you move to a new Corps May you see fruits for your labor. God Bless! Love you both.🙏🏻🙏🏻

     

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