Searching for the Living Among the Dead: Foster Care in Biblical Perspective

Engaging in foster care challenges us to see beyond the brokenness and despair, believe in every child's inherent worth and potential, and participate in the redemptive work of God.
By Roy Baldwin
March 04, 2024 • 3 min read

“In their fright, the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5)

As I reflect on this brief but powerful moment in Scripture of “searching for the living among the dead,” I am drawn to contemplate its application in the context of foster care. This interaction in an empty tomb, rooted in the Easter narrative, urges us to seek life, hope, and renewal amidst despair, darkness, and death.

It is a call to action, reminding us of our duty to bring light into society’s darkest corners, uplift the downtrodden, and offer hope to the hopeless.

In the Gospel of Luke, we encounter an angelic proclamation to the women (Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, to name a few) at the empty tomb of Jesus: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:5-6, NIV). This powerful statement serves as a clarion call for believers to seek the vibrancy of life and resurrection power even in the most desolate circumstances.

What makes this especially powerful is that during this time period, women were not considered credible witnesses. Women who could not even testify in a court of law, were not only the ones who discover the empty tomb but become the first to declare Jesus’ resurrection.

I love what Mark Roberts writes, “The women who followed Jesus had already shown exceptional loyalty to him in the days right before Easter. Whereas many of Jesus’s male followers deserted him when he was arrested and crucified, ‘the women who had followed him from Galilee’ remained with him to the end (Luke 23:49).”

Even the disciples questioned the validity of the women’s testimony, but this did not deter them to declare what was true.

When we consider foster care through the lens of these women in this narrative, we are confronted with the stark reality of the brokenness and suffering experienced by countless families and children. These stories and lives caught in the crossfire of circumstances beyond their control, often living amidst the metaphorical “dead” of neglect, abuse, addiction and abandonment.

Yet, just as the angel proclaimed the resurrection of Christ, the message of hope rings true for these vulnerable children: there is life to be found amidst the darkness whether people will believe it or not.  Even those who should believe and respond might find your response with skepticism.

As Christians, we are called to embody the compassion and love of Christ in tangible ways. James 1:27 implores us to care for orphans and widows in their distress, reflecting God’s heart for the marginalized and vulnerable. In the context of foster care, this means actively engaging with the foster care system, opening our homes and hearts to children in need, and providing a safe and nurturing environment where they can flourish and thrive.

Moreover, the concept of “searching for the living among the dead” challenges us to see beyond the brokenness and trauma that may define a child’s past. It calls us to recognize their inherent worth and potential, believing in the transformative power of love and restoration. Just as Jesus saw the dignity and value in every individual he encountered, regardless of their circumstances, we too are called to extend grace and compassion to each child in foster care.

Foster care presents a unique opportunity to participate in God’s redemptive work. By providing stability, support, and unconditional love to children who have experienced the pain of separation and loss, we become agents of healing and reconciliation in their lives.

Through our actions, we demonstrate God’s love in tangible ways, offering a glimpse of the hope and restoration found in Christ.

However, engaging in foster care also requires humility, perseverance, and a willingness to embrace the challenges that may arise. It may involve navigating complex systems, facing uncertainties, and experiencing heartache and disappointment along the way. Yet, amid these difficulties, we are reminded of the promise of resurrection—that God can bring beauty from ashes and that no situation is beyond his redemption.

“Searching for the living among the dead” compels us to actively engage with the issue of vulnerable children and families, viewing it as both a calling and an opportunity to embody God’s love and compassion in the world. It challenges us to see beyond the brokenness and despair, believe in every child’s inherent worth and potential, and participate in the redemptive work of God.

May we heed this call with courage and conviction, knowing that in doing so, we are sowing seeds of hope and transformation that will bear fruit for generations to come.

Roy Baldwin

Roy is the CEO of Christian Heritage. He has 20+ years experience working with at-risk children and families. Before joining CH, Roy was the director of a Christian camp, Director of Parenting and Youth at Focus on the Family, and a house parent at Milton-Hershey School in Pennsylvania. A native of Pittsburgh, Roy is a passionate fan of the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. He and his wife Karen have three children.