We are Todd and Mary McNeal—members of South Everett Foursquare Church in Washington, pastored by Joseph and Christy Fehlen—and this last year was not one of our finest.
Our construction business failed; we burned through our savings; and we went deep into debt trying to save our company. We had no income, no resources and six children; two were adopted, and one was a foster child. We wondered how we could possibly continue to foster or adopt more kids without any resources.
Then we realized that kids are way too important to just give up on them.
It all started nine years ago, when we first got involved at Mill Creek Foursquare in Lynnwood, Wash. We immediately got plugged into the children's ministry. Our time at Mill Creek gave us a heart to foster and adopt children. We were inspired by another couple in the church, Lenny and Cindy, who took in medically fragile children.
We found ourselves thinking that "someone should do something" when we would hear the plight of abused and neglected children. Cindy challenged us one day concerning a young boy named Jonathan. As we complained about the system and the challenges facing this child, she spoke these words: "You need to be his advocate." We were, and now Jonathan is our child.
This really opened our hearts to the needs of these kids. So, two years ago, we transitioned with Joseph and Christy Fehlen to minister at South Everett Foursquare. South Everett Foursquare is situated in a very poor, multicultural, high-density area with a lot of families in need. Many of the children who are in need of adoption and foster care are from this area. So we went there to provide more consistent help and to give to these families. But the reality is South Everett Foursquare and this community gave even more to us.
As a family we had decided, even though we were without a salary, that we would continue to care for children in the foster care and adoption systems. We wanted to create a safe environment for these children. This last year, we have had several other kids become a part of our family, some for a short time, others for longer, as they waited for a more stable home environment.
We believe that because of our faith in God and His charge on our life to care for the orphans, He has taken us through this last year, and our family has wanted for nothing. God has shown us His faithfulness through our church family. Our bills have been paid on time, our cupboards are full, and words of encouragement seem to come when we are out of gas emotionally. The most humbling and encouraging experience was when a widow from our church gave us some milk and eggs for the kids we take care of.
We believe that, above all, we are called to care for the weak—specifically the orphans, widows, immigrants and poor. South Everett Foursquare has given us the tools and support to do this. Through this experience, we have learned God not only asks us to care for orphans when we have resources, but also when we are at our lowest. We always have something to give. If we trust and honor God through our actions, even in times of need, He will honor our effort.
Our adoptions and work with foster kids have been difficult emotionally and financially at times, but these experiences have taught us some important kingdom principles. All things that have eternal value come with great cost. The emotional and financial cost of caring for more kids was too much for us to bear alone. We would not have made it if not for our church family.