by Russon Bibbs, SBC of Virginia church planter, Rocky Mount, Virginia
There comes great joy when you see a child do something extraordinary and know that God used you to be a part of that. ~ Russon Bibbs
My name is Russon Bibbs, and I am a church planter with the SBC of Virginia in Rocky Mount, Virginia. My wife is Nicole Bibbs, and we have five kids (three biological and two adopted through foster care). Also, we currently have one foster child in our home.
Our journey began when God called us to make an impact on our community. We knew God called us to plant a church in my hometown. The more that calling became clear, the more we also felt that fostering was another investment for our family and our community. At this point in our lives, we had one child, who was approximately two years old.
We followed the call God gave us to invest in our family by beginning the fostering process and contacted the local Department of Social Services (DSS). Over the years, we have fostered four kids from DSS and adopted two children through this process.
The Greatest Joy
We have experienced great joy during our fostering journey. One of the most impactful aspects has been witnessing the change that happens in our foster children’s lives — as well as in the lives of our biological family. We have been molded and changed by the kids God has brought to us. For example, we’ve been blessed to witness a foster child, who has had a rough life or gone through a difficult experience, finally be able to relax and just be a kid — to truly embrace who God created them to be. There comes great joy when you see a child do something extraordinary and know that God chose you to be a part of their story. Throughout the fostering process, our greatest joy has been growing our family and formally adopting two children. These two boys have brought joy and laughter to our family that would not be there without them. They seriously know how to make the whole family laugh — it’s like their superpower. Because of these two boys, our family is complete in a way it would never have been without this experience.
The Biggest Challenge
I won’t lie or sugar coat things — this has been a challenging experience. This journey has tested our faithfulness to the call God gave our family. One of the biggest hurdles we faced was continually rearranging our lives to accommodate numerous appointments for our foster children — something we were willing to do (but it does take a toll on the family). It wasn’t just our schedule that was shifted. Our home was re-arranged, as well, to accommodate new family members.
Each child brings their own challenges to the family, and we had to learn how to meet those needs in a flexible and loving way. Before fostering we had a pretty rigid schedule but from this experience we have learned the value of being nimble, making room for flexibility.
Additionally, fostering proved to be especially challenging when coupled with our church planting call. With all the demands of planting a new church and those of fostering a child, some days seem to not have enough hours in them. At times, we had to pull the emergency brake, re-prioritize, and focus on needs.
Even with all the challenges, we would and continue to foster because of the impact we have on our foster children and the great joy they bring us.
Seeing God in the Moments
In spite of the challenges we faced, we were able to see some pretty clear “God Moments,” meaning it was incredibly evident that God was working through and in our experiences. One of the biggest God-moments has been the opportunity to influence the child and also their biological family. For two of the children we fostered, we still maintain a relationship with their biological parents. These relationships have (in some cases) lead to discipleship opportunities.
Fostering has also been the most sanctifying experience our family has encountered, shaping us into a better, more God-centered family. We have seen God use our foster children to mold us into the image He wants us to be, and are incredibly grateful for the foster children He brought into our lives. If you are considering fostering, please know that the investment and the trials are well worth it. The challenges cannot compare with the blessing God brings into your home and personal life.