Advocacy For Foster Children Grows From Possum Trot to Orange County

Bishop W.C. Martin, the man who led members of his small country church in Possom Trot, Texas, to collectively adopt 76 foster children, said he believes the Zero by 2020 initiative launched in Orange County, California, will lead to a national movement.

Zero by 2020 is a collaborative initiative of Christian churches in Orange County with the goal of finding a family for every child in Orange County by 2020 and equip the church to support them.

Bishop Martin recently told leaders of the initiative that he will do whatever it takes to help the movement grow.

“I believe in my heart that what God did with us in Possum Trot is going to generate throughout this nation,” he said. “There’s no reason in the world that it shouldn’t. I believe 100 percent that God is going to move and take care of this particular problem because our children have suffered too long, our children have been through these hardships long enough. I believe they have a right to a better life than what they ever had before.”

Bishop Martin, who describes himself as simply “an ol’ country boy,” gained national attention several years ago when he and his wife, Donna, led the congregation at Bennett Chapel Baptist Church to adopt 76 foster children from across Texas, many of whom had been abandoned or abused.“I never dreamed there were so many children in the system,” Bishop Martin told People Magazine in 2012. “We’re just a little church. But this problem is all of ours.”

Officials within several Orange County agencies have also captured the vision and are already working with churches to help accomplish the initiative’s goal.

Olive Crest, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping abused and neglected children, is also a leading agency in the effort.

“It’s really exciting to see how churches are coming together on behalf of children,” said Wendy McMahan, who is Olive Crest’s Director of Foster, Adoptions, and Kinship. “There’s an awakening taking place right now among the Church, with so many ministry leaders who are answering the call by stepping up to find families for children waiting in foster care.”

Olive Crest is focused on strong families and safe kids, McMahan said.

“We want to help families discover the right fit for them, whether it’s fostering, adopting, or providing support to other families,” she explained. “We’ll train each family and walk with them each step of the way through placement and the fostering process. Some families will feel called into foster care and adoption, and we hope that others will answer the call to restore families through the Safe Families for Children program.”

McMahan adds that Olive Crest feels honored to be partnering with so many Orange County churches to share the call toward finding families for children.

Skip Lanfried, one of the organizers of Zero by 2020, said that the initiative is beyond the “vision stage” and now into the implementation phase.

“Bishop Martin has walked this hard road already,” Lanfried said. “His small church of less than 200 people and 25 families said, ‘Yes, we will step into the pain and hardship of these kids in foster care and give them a family.’

“As the result of the movement that happened in his church a miracle happened for 76 kids. These were children that experienced very traumatic childhoods. These were the most difficult kids to place in the foster care system in Texas and his church was willing to step in on their behalf, step in the gap, and provide family.”

Lanfried is encouraging everyone that is interested in the Zero by 2020 initiative to attend the Next Step Gathering to be held at Friends Church in Yorba Linda on April 14. Bishop Martin will be at the event, scheduled to speak during a training session.

“We believe that Orange County has kids that have experienced difficulty being placed with families,” Lanfried said. “At this event coming up, we’re going to be hearing from Bishop Martin firsthand, who along with his church have succeeded in overcoming this problem.”

For more information, including registration, for the Next Step Gathering, go to the event page here:




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