Children from First Baptist Church Belton in Anderson County regularly collect supplies for foster children in their area. Shown here with Katy Sauceman, who runs the foster care clothes closet.
By Jennifer Wilson
First Baptist Church, Belton
The children and families of Belton First Baptist Church have served in so many ways in the foster care arena.
In June of 2011 one of our church members organized a trip for my son and me to go for a week to an orphanage in Belize. Our member had worked with the directors of the orphanage and visited there several times with Anderson University. I would say this is where the passion for foster care was initiated. The following November our church sponsored a church-wide mission trip to work at the orphanage.
Throughout the years our church has been passionate about children removed from their families and placed into foster care system. We have served several children’s homes in a variety of ways. Click through the slides below to see some of what we have done.
In 2010 our children’s group spent a day at Calvary Children’s Home in Anderson playing games and doing arts and crafts.
From 2013-2019 our children hosted a kickball tournament each spring. For three of those years the children living at Calvary were allowed to come to play with our group and the proceeds from the tournament would go to Calvary Children’s Home. We would also provide Easter Baskets and goodies for each child.
In the summer of 2014 about 30 of our members served for several days doing yard work and again, leading activities with the children.
Connie Maxwell Children’s Home is in our area. One of our families spent years working as staff members there. Our relationship with them has been strong due to these ties. During the summer of 2018 our church did a weeklong family mission action. We completed renovations on an office building for their young mothers in care. During the week another group led children’s activities and VBS. It was a great week learning and growing together.
Helping Hands is a Children’s Home in Clemson. In the fall of 2011 our children’s group led bible stories and games with the children. We went several more times during the following summer.
In 2020 we provided 50 brand-new duffle bags to New Foundations Children’s Home. We also keep our foster closet stocked with new bags for the foster children that come to us for needs.
Our church serves as a place where the Department of Social Services could arrange for family meetings for foster children. One of our members is always present and we provide games and snacks to help provide a comfortable and healthy meeting environment as children and families saw each other at bi-monthly or monthly meetings.
In 2016 we started a foster closet in our church. Our church family and community has been so good about passing us hand-me-downs for the children. We were so blessed but we were running out of room in our attic.
Katy Sauceman, a member of our church who fostered to adopt a little girl, has taken over and has grown this closet into something to be proud of. Any foster family can come and get what they need as they get new placements or as foster children outgrow clothes. She and others have stocked it with new or slightly worn clothes, brand-new car seats and baby items, diapers, and many other necessities. Hundreds of children have been served in this way.
For the foster children that have been a part of our church family through the years we have been privileged to be a part of sending three on mission trips, 10 to childrens’ camp, 3 to youth camp, 4 were baptized, many birthday parties or going home parties, tutoring, play dates, summer activities, swimming lessons, snow skiing, and so much more! We served Christmas goodies to about 50 DSS workers in 2019. They were very appreciative.
We had a skating party for many of our foster friends that went home but came with their families back for a chance to see their BFBC friends again. Ten foster children came and about 40 of their biological family members. It was a wonderful opportunity for everyone to meet each other and to celebrate reunification.
Also, several foster children that previously lived with us come back to visit and always feel welcomed back to Belton First Baptist Church when they come.
I say all this to say, “ When God gives you a passion or a heart to serve He will give you a platform to use. Use it. It ends up being a blessing to many, those being served and those given the opportunity to serve. It has been a joy to watch our church have the opportunities they have had to serve the least of these.”
God has given me a heart for children.
I earned my undergraduate degree in Special Education and a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling.
I worked in the public schools for 12 years seeing firsthand the needs of so many children in our district.
I left the school system in 2011 and our family became a foster family in 2012.
As the Children’s Minister at Belton First Baptist Church on and off for the past 15ish years God has given me a platform in which to serve and lead in the area of foster care.
In 2019 I was appointed to be on the Foster Care Review Board in our state. I continue to serve the children in foster care in this way.
42 children passed through Jennifer’s home in five years
In 2012 we opened our home to foster children. From August 2012 until May 2019 forty-two children from the ages of 2 months to 18 stayed with us between one night to eighteen months. During this time many opportunities were provided for them and other foster children to grow and learn surrounded by a people that loved Jesus and loved them. It was a growing experience for our entire church family. During this time three other families became foster families to seven different children.
This is a recent flyer that highlighted foster care at Belton FBC.