LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — A packed house at the 53rd annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast on Monday was challenged to act to meet the needs of Kentucky’s children in the foster care system.
Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley said he is greatly concerned about the number of children who are homeless in his community.
“We have 1,100 students attending Harlan County High School, and 532 fall into the criteria of being homeless,” he said. Mosley cited one 18-year-old student who was two years behind his original school class because of lack of parental care and involvement early in his life. He went to live with his grandparents and last fall, in a 45-day period, his grandparents died.
There’s a 15-year-old student whose mother died, his father is in prison, he has only one relative, an aunt, who skipped town after she obtained food stamps that were intended for him, Moseley said. “His father may be released from prison in a few months, and this child is praying his father is reformed.”
Mosley said another student was found living in the woods by himself near the school.
Echoing the need for the people of God to become involved in this growing epidemic of children needing a home was Chris Johnson of United Kentucky. He said there are 9,800 residents in the foster care system in Kentucky — a record high. “They are there because of the actions of others which have put them in a situation that is very scary for them,” he said. “We have a God-given responsibility to provide hope and care for them.”
“God’s word is clear — we are to care for the fatherless, to come alongside them and provide the support they need. We need people to step into these lives of these children in their distress, to step into their pain and hurt. There is no reason that we the people of faith can’t step up and be the solution.”
United Kentucky is an initiative of first lady Glenna Bevin with a goal to help Kentucky’s vulnerable children. Johnson said some can provide temporary foster care, others can adopt. “All of us are called to do something,” he said. “These children need someone to love them, someone to act in their best interest.”
Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton said “the answer is right under our noses — if we will just open the book (Bible) and follow Jesus Christ. “My prayer today is for our children — if our kids are not following Jesus, it doesn’t matter how many jobs we have, it doesn’t matter how many businesses come to Kentucky. We must instill in them (children) the hope that is in Jesus Christ.”
Gov. Matt Bevin said he was humbled and grateful for the large gathering at the Griffin Gate Marriott. “Every year I hope people come, I hope they get something out of their time here. Is it worth it? Yes. What a blessing to see this place packed with people, many who have driven hours to get here.” Speaking for himself and his wife, he said, “We are grateful for your prayers. Kentucky has long been the cradle of extraordinary things done by God. Kentucky is at the epicenter of things remarkable but undoubtedly spiritual.”
Bevin presented the William Cooper Faith and Community in Action Award to Carl and Pam Smith of “All God’s Children” in Nicholasville. That agency serves the needs of at-risk children in its residential treatment home for teenage mothers and their children.