42 May 2018 | prestonhollowpeople.com
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LETTING FAITH OVERCOME FEAR
Family learns lessons through foster care CHILD ABUSE BY THE NUMBERS IN DALLAS COUNTY IN FISCAL YEAR 2017:
By Bianca R. Montes People Newspapers
ave you ever wanted to send God a text message simply stating, “LOL?” Alexis Wagoner has. The University Park mother of three has found herself finding God in the smallest of details more and more since opening her home to a foster child. “It’s almost comical,” she laughed telling a story about trying to purchase a polka-dotted suitcase for a 5-year-old little girl placed in her home full of boys. “I was literally Googling on my computer a polka-dotted suitcase and then my doorbell rings,” she said. There her friend was, holding a polka-dotted suitcase full of clothes. “I just wanted to text God, LOL, good one,” Wagoner said. “Even in the tiniest of details you can just see God’s hand.” Wagoner has spent many Mother’s Days surrounded by the love of her own children, all boys ages 9, 14, and 15. But for the past two years foster children have been a part of the celebration. While there isn’t a simple answer to explain why she and her family opened their door to a foster child, Wagoner said there is a culmination that led to the decision. It all began about four years ago when her middle child was 10. A family they knew was mentoring a child and her son latched onto the idea. She still remembers the excitement in his voice when he gleefully said, “we need to do that.” But, at the time, their plate was full, and it just didn’t make sense to take on a family mentorship. So, like any curious 10-yearold Wagoner’s son did his own research and
allegations of abuse or neglect were made to CPS
children were confirmed as victims of abuse or neglect
Alexis Wagoner takes a break from her sales career to foster children. looked for a similar opportunity he could explore. “No one was willing to let a 10-year-old step up and help that way,” Wagoner said. While her son found another way to volunteer, the situation left Wagoner and her husband wondering: How do we let our children have access to people who need help? “Most of the volunteering for young kids, it’s hard for them to see who’s benefiting from packing the backpacks or serving the food in the food bank,” Alexis Wagoner said. “It’s hard for them to make that connection. They don’t understand.” It wasn’t until two years later and a few more revelations by God that had the Wagoner Family at Buckner Foster Care in Dallas. It took eight months to get licensed, almost the length of a pregnancy, Wagoner noted.
children were living in foster and kinship care BIANCA R. MONTES
They used that time to process a host of insecurities; What if they bring us a child we cannot handle? What if they bring us someone we can’t love? What if they bring us someone we love too much? Ten days after being licensed, they received their first placement call. Through it all, Wagoner said her faith has taught her two things: One, to trust God. Two, to have faith in Him. “I get such sweet glimpses of validation,” she said. “You know, sometimes I worry. My youngest son had a birthday just a few days after [her latest placement, a nine-year-old girl] got here, and we were in such a frenzy to take care of her immediate needs that I wanted to make sure he didn’t feel he was being cast aside on his special weekend.” And then she got a sweet note from his
children were removed from their homes
children died as a result of abuse or neglect SOURCE: CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES
teacher. In the classroom, they had read a book about someone who inspired people. Afterwards, the teacher asked the class who inspired them and Wagoner’s son raised his hand and said, ‘My Mom.’ “The things that I worry about, I feel like God answers those prayers by saying, ‘Stay on course, this is going to all work out.’ ”
Crossing Racial Divides
Dallas pastors swap pulpits for the fourth year By Bianca R. Montes People Newspapers
Park Cities Baptist Church pastor Jeff Warren isn’t afraid to say there are people in his congregation that don’t know anyone of color. “Not really,” he said.
“I am learning that the racial story for a white man is dramatically different than a black man.” Jeff Warren
CHELSEA Q. WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY
PCBC pastor Jeff Warren greats guests at Concord Church.
He even extended the statement to those outside of his church who live in the Park Cities and Preston Hollow neighborhoods. So, what do you do about that? “Do I ask the person at the grocery store to go to lunch with them? Maybe,
yeah, maybe,” Warren said. And that is what he’s done since returning to the pulpit at PCBC in 2010 as the senior pastor. His journey began by joining a south Oak Cliff pastor for lunch. From that simple act of breaking bread, Warren and the Rev. Bryan Carter, senior pastor at Concord Church, connected with other area pastors at nearly 30 churches to routinely discuss racial relations and in 2015 swapped pulpits to continue the conversation with their parishioners. Their work, both pastors agree, proved fruitful in the wake of the July 7, 2016 Dallas police ambush during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. “The Pulpit Swap is an essential part of the work we’re doing,” Carter said. “It communicates and demonstrates the importance of our roles as Christians in this matter of racial reconciliation. It
also serves as a model for others and a call to action for both us personally and corporately to move away from racism and work toward unity.” As a pastor, Warren said he does find it challenging to bring the sensitive topic of race to his church – especially today – but said God calls us to step out of our secure places. “I am learning that the racial story, everyone has a story of race, for a white man is dramatically different than a black man,” Warren said. “I think so much of it has to do with how we were raised in our families. We take on the perspective of our parents, so we talk about teaching our children to love everyone. “When you show up in a cross racial [environment], grace abounds. Especially if you’re among God’s people. It is palpable. You don’t experience that when we’re just all white.”
Preston Hollow People is a monthly publication of People Newspapers, an affiliate of D Magazine, in Dallas, Texas.