In Texas, there are over 30,000 children in the foster care system and more than half a million across the United States. With one man’s idea of connecting the relationship of church and state, over 20,000 children have been impacted by a Maypearl-based nonprofit.
Bishop Aaron Blake Sr. is the founder and executive director of Harvest Family Life and under this nonprofit is Family First and the Care Portal. Through these entities, he strives to educate churches on orphan care ministry and connects them with local child welfare services to impact families in their backyard.
“Our desire is to see more families waiting for kids than kids waiting for families,” Blake advocated.
According to the Care Portal website, 13 states participate with 1,436 churches serving local families. Figures show an economic impact of $7,599,609 in the United States. That’s millions of potential tax dollars.
Texas churches alone have served more than 4,000 children with 482 active churches. That’s an economic impact of over one million dollars.
In Ellis County, nine churches are active and have served 75 children with an economic impact of $15,640.
Before Blake made his way to Ellis County, he was a bi-vocational pastor in Brownwood and a counselor at Brownwood High School. One day, a 16-year-old student who was in foster care was sent to his office because he refused to go to class. Blake learned the student had jumped from several schools, which meant his credits weren’t lining up with the time he’d put into his education.
“I got to know him, and a year later something happened with his placement where he was. He came to live with my wife and me and then five other boys came to live with us. So, six high school football players, all but one was over 200 pounds, and they ate a cow a day,” Blake joked.
At church one day in 1986, Blake stood in front of the crowd and asked who would stand with him to aid foster children. The audience took it seriously, and one by one the audiences’ feet were on the ground. Within five months, there had been 39 children who went through the church with families helping and fostering.
Blake shared that for 12 years, the church averaged helping 55 kids a year. Through his philosophy, he established Harvest Family Life. Then one day, “Child welfare called and they came down. CPS folks from Austin came down and said, ‘We want to see what you’re doing. Will this work in other churches?’ And I said, ‘yes, because it’s a biblical mandate.’”
As Blake’s reach grew, then-Maypearl ISD Superintendent Rick Devos recognized his efforts and asked him to move here to teach and train. When Blake made the move to Maypearl, he realized Devos wanted him to bring his philosophy to 28 regions in Texas that range from Witchita to the border, past San Angelo to Austin and Longview to Tyler.
“God has blessed us to help thousands of children,” Blake stated.
Harvest Family Life has a ministry partnership with the North Texas District in Maypearl and through this are contracted Family First and the Care Portal.
Blake elaborated on how the nonprofit works with churches to engage, equip and empower them. The churches are trained how to care for the children in need and then is connected with the community through social workers.
Even though the church and state play separate rolls, the system proves they can efficiently work together and help and heal local families.
Ashley Ford | Facebook | Twitter | 469-517-1450