These articles are meant to strengthen the capacity of all FBOs to live out their faith-based mission. If you are already a Sacred Sector participant, log into the Participant Portal to access the toolbox resources. If your organization is interested in becoming a Sacred Sector participant, click here.
In the United States, faith-based adoption agencies have been a trending topic in the news. A recent vote in the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to a bill which prohibits the government from discriminating against child welfare agencies because of their “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” This bill will allow more faith-based adoption agencies to live out their religious beliefs by placing children in loving homes without compromising their views on traditional marriage.
Allowing faith-based agencies to operate is absolutely crucial. There are currently about 438,000 children in the foster system on any given day. On average, children remain in state care for nearly two years, and six percent of children in foster care have spent five or more years in the system. Additionally, studies have shown that foster children are more likely to face homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults. These statistics are bleak, but organizations like Ignite Hope offer a solution.
Ignite Hope is a Sacred Sector participant and faith-based organization in Atlanta, Georgia. Ignite Hope works with churches, families and communities across the United States to pray for orphans and encourage families to adopt children. On their website, they describe their work using the acronym A.R.E.: “We Advocate for families and children; We Resource, creating books and materials; We Encourage through prayer teams, speaking and devotionals.”
Ignite Hope’s ministry demonstrates the importance of faith-based organizations in civil society. Although secular organizations can also play a role in supporting adoption, faith-based organizations are uniquely situated to offer prayer and spiritual support. Thanks to Ignite Hope’s consistent faith-based focus and tireless prayer, their impact has grown from a local adoption support network to a global prayer ministry that empowers 17 international ministries and orphanages.
CEO Jacqui Jackson, along with her husband Jeff Jackson, founded Ignite Hope as a way to support children in foster care and encourage adoption. Jackson, herself a former foster child and international adoptee, has focused on prayer in every aspect of the ministry. The Sacred Sector Positive Positioning in the Public Square Toolbox on Public Policy says: “To promote a favorable environment for the fulfillment of its sacred mission, every FBO should consider carefully how it can best engage with the leaders and members of the community around it.” Ignite Hope keeps their prayer focus central to their message as they continue to expand their reach.
By portraying a consistent faith-focused message, Ignite Hope has entered strategic partnerships with other organizations, allowing them to help more orphans around the world. Jackson admitted: “We have zero advertising budget, we had never gone out looking for international partners, they just started coming to us … and it revealed an unmet need.” The Public Policy Toolbox speaks to the importance of building these relationships: “By building positive relationships with community leaders and members, FBOs can help create a hospitable public square in which FBOs can thrive.”
The Sacred Sector Religious Staffing Organizational Practices Toolbox says, “From a mission standpoint, your organization should strive to incorporate its foundational beliefs into its organizational culture, operations and services.” For Ignite Hope, prayer is a foundational aspect of their board meetings and operations, and each person from the CEO to the volunteer prayer team member understands its importance.
This Toolbox also encourages organizations to “Connect the root of your FBO (its sacred mission) with the fruit of your FBO (the service in the community as a result of your sacred mission).” Ignite Hope has successfully achieved this consistency in its communications. Their purpose — the root of their work —is “to be the voice for the modern orphan in the public square and straight to the heart of God.” Ignite Hope consistently shares how this root is connected to their fruit of supporting adoption from a faith-based standpoint.
Although some believe that “thoughts and prayers” are an inadequate response to injustice, Jackson understands the power of prayer. Jackson sees prayer not as a passive act, but as an avenue for transformation. She testifies that “God called us to a foundation of prayer before he would let us to go out into the public square.” That foundation of prayer has helped Ignite Hope refine their mission and enabled them to boldly share it with the world.
As faith-based organizations navigate the complex climate surrounding adoption and the foster system, it is crucial that they remain true to their sacred missions. Ignite Hope engages in public positioning that demonstrates the power of prayer. As a result, Ignite Hope has effectively expanded its reach and impacted the lives of orphans and families around the world. Ignite Hope’s success demonstrates that with prayer and dedication, a faith-based organization can powerfully carry out its sacred mission.
If you are not a Sacred Sector participant and would like access to resources on public policy, organizational practices and public positioning for faith-based organizations, sign up to become a Sacred Sector participant here.
Nicole Kennedy is a Legal Fellow with the Center for Public Justice (CPJ). She contributes to two different initiatives at CPJ: Sacred Sector and the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance (IRFA). Nicole is a law student at the University of California, Irvine and an alumna of Pepperdine University.