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Ministry encourages church members to foster Arizona children

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Pastor Robert Gelinas and his family Pastor Robert Gelinas and his family

A bible verse that speaks of orphans and fatherless children inspired a movement that could change the lives of hundreds of Arizona's foster children.

The movement called Project 1.27 gets its name from John 1:27 and members wanted to share their message with Arizona churches.

Most would agree that growing up in the system is not a good thing for a child. Simply put, it hurts.  

"There are kids sitting in foster care, no child should grow up in foster care, certainly no child should age out in foster care, and the churches and the community come together and however that looks, I think it's great," said Kris Jacober, with the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents.

Jacober has fostered 15 children over the years. She's seen plenty of anguish and trauma.

"They come to my house, they don't know me, they don't like me, they don't like my food, they don't like the way my house smells; nothing is familiar," said Jacober.      

Right now, there are 350 children in Arizona's foster care system waiting.
"Some are in temporary homes today with loving families, others are in group homes, others are in shelters. We have a number of children in-state in temporary shelters," said Pastor Terry Christ, with City of Grace Church.

Christ's Scottsdale church gathered with more than a dozen other pastors in Phoenix this week to discuss and tackle the Foster Care crisis in Arizona.

There are hundreds of children waiting in the system, but there are no families to take them.

"If we had enough families, people who had been properly vetted and approved through the system, we could actually pick up those 350 children today and take them to safe loving homes," said Pastor Robert Gelinas, with Project 1.27.

That is doable according to Denver-based Gelinas, who told Arizona pastors about a simple concept with a deep impact.

"That it is possible for people of faith to step up and to open their lives and their hearts and that a foster care system can be emptied," said Gelinas.

With a movement involving churches, state agencies, and other groups throughout Colorado, Project 1.27 was born eight years ago.

The story told on the project's website lays out their plan to mobilize parents from local churches to adopt children waiting in the system.

Since then, hundreds of children have found new homes with church families.

"No one person can do it. We can take one child, my wife and I dove into the process. Personally, we have six children, five adopted. One at a time, we have room for one more. God will figure the rest out," said Gelinas.     

If families simply are unable to adopt or foster a child, Pastor Gelinas says they are encouraged to support those who do, because it does take a village to raise a child.

Jacober knows adopting and foster families need support.

"They need their relatives to bring dinner over, they need neighbors to help them with clothes.They need their community to step up and help them be the best family they can be," said Jacober.

"For every one family that adopts or foster, you need a whole group of families that wraps around, provides support babysitting bunk beds those kinds of things together we can do it," said Gelinas.

There are 350 children waiting in the system here in Arizona who are clear for adoption.

There are actually more than 14,000 children who are being care for out of their homes because of abuse or neglect.

Jacober says the families who are fostering and adopting need all the community support they can get.

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