By Jennifer Harris
Word&Way News Writer
Platinum selling, award-winning Word Records recording artist, Mark Schultz, hopped on a bicycle May 7 to raise money and awareness for orphans and widows.
Schultz, who was adopted through the Kansas Children’s Service League, has raised over $80,000 since leaving California.
He made his way through Missouri during the first part of June, stopping to perform in Joplin, St. Joseph, Chillicothe and Kirksville. His tour is scheduled to end July 11 in New Hampshire.
Springfield resident Linda Murphy understands the importance of taking care of orphans. She was “rescued from the system” at an early age, she said. “I was very lucky not to be tossed from home to home,” said Murphy.
Her adoptive family served as a foster home for countless children. While her father died 12 years ago, her mother continued serving as a foster parent until last year, at the age of 89.
Murphy felt it was only natural that she and husband George continue the tradition. “It is in my blood,” she said. They began fostering children 13 years ago in their Nebraska home.
Their first experience with kids leaving was difficult for the Murphys.
“We had our hearts broken when kids left to go to a situation we didn’t feel was best,” Murphy said. “We hadn’t grown enough to realize it wasn’t about us.”
They decided to take a break from being foster parents. During the break, they moved to Missouri.
“I heard a public service announcement on the radio every day at 3 p.m. and kept thinking ‘we should probably get back into it,’” Murphy said.
By the time they were ready to make the commitment, the announcement was no longer on the radio.
Murphy began searching for the organization, which she thought was Lutheran. She finally called the radio station, where someone immediately remembered the ad and put her in touch with the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home.
They adopted three little boys — a set of twins and their older brother. “We feel very strongly about keeping sibling groups together,” Murphy said. “We know not everyone is equipped to take multiple children into their homes. We put the word out with the case workers.”
The twins were placed with the Murphys in therapeutic care, meaning there were some behavioral concerns. They found out the twins had an older brother in a different home and began the process of getting him too. The family spent their first Christmas together this past year with in Nebraska, where Murphy’s mother and several siblings still live.
The adoption process was finalized on Murphy’s birthday, a wonderful present Murphy said. “These kids are the greatest — we love them to death.”
The Murphys also have two daughters. The oldest is about to start college in Jefferson City. The other, 13, is urging her parents for a baby sister.
The Murphys are thinking about taking in more children once their oldest daughter begins school.
“People think of foster parenting in terms of helping children,” Murphy said. “But it is really a two-way street. These little guys have brought so much to our family. I can’t imagine life without them.”
Murphy urges those interested in foster care to contact the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home. In addition to tradition foster care, there are needs to respit care, providing a break for foster parents over the weekend.
People are also needed to serve as mentors, inviting kids living in group homes to have dinner with the family. Individuals can also share their talents or gifts by teaching children to sew or throw a baseball.
“You don’t have to commit your home to fulltime care to help kids,” Murphy said.
“I’d love to challenge every church to a minimum of two or three foster homes,” she said. “If that challenge was met, we’d have this problem licked.”
She also added thanks for the Children’s Home. “Working with a Christian organization is a whole different ball game,” she said. “It really makes the difference.”
During the week of May 25 - June 1, MBCH Children and Family Ministries, an affiliate of Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, supervised foster care for 236 children throughout the state of Missouri.
“We are actively seeking Christians to become foster parents licensed through our agency to work with us in helping hurting kids,” said Robbi Haynes, Director of Marketing and Recruitment” for MBCH Children and Family Ministries. “To be a foster parent in Missouri, you may be single or married, must be at least 21 years of age and complete the training and licensing process offered through Missouri Baptist Children’s Home Children and Family Ministries regional offices at no cost.”
For more information on becoming a foster parent through the MBCH, call (800) 264-6224. To follow Mark Schultz’s bike tour and see his video journal, visit www.markacrossamerica.org.
The site also links to an online auction, the result of a partnership between Schultz and the Family Christian Stores James Fund to raise more support for widows and orphans. (6-14-07)