During this next season of the Heritage blog we will be celebrating individuals in our church body that are on mission for the glory of Jesus, both in our local community and even to faraway places in the world. At Heritage, we desire that the body of Christ seek ways to BE the hands and feet of Jesus to people that would otherwise be unlikely to attend our church. The individuals featured in this blog series are doing that! We pray that their stories encourage and inspire the people at Heritage to be on mission as well. If you are involved in being on mission here in the Rogue Valley, or to the world in any capacity, let us know. We would love to celebrate that, encourage that, and allow your story to inspire the body of Christ.
By: Brent Cisson and Lynette Hasse
Photo: Heather Templeton
Heritage family, we want to highlight the grace of God in Lynette’s life. Lynette and her family have been attending Heritage for eight years. Lynette was born and raised in Redmond and has been married to her husband, Fred, for almost 30 years. Lynette has three adult children and a high-school aged son.
Lynette, when did you give your life to follow Jesus Christ?
My first memory of giving my life to Christ was when I was about five years old.
You serve in an organization called Every Child. Tell us a little about it?
Every Child aims to bring comfort and self-worth to children in foster care. They provide support to the invaluable families who care for them and come alongside those on the front lines of this crisis in our county.
Every Child originated in Portland in 2012 to serve as a bridge between the child welfare system and community members, faith communities, and businesses. Particularly, Every Child seeks to serve foster kids, foster parents, and also child welfare workers. Visit the website at www.everychildjackson.org.
How did you personally connect with Every Child?
About 16 years ago, while attending Table Rock Fellowship, a speaker shared about the foster parent and child welfare system. My husband felt very led to begin the process of becoming a foster parent. I did not feel quite the same vision, but the Lord began working on my heart. We began the vetting process of becoming foster parents. About a year later, we took in our first foster child. He was a two-and-a-half-year-old boy found wandering near a lake with tens upon tens of splinters in his feet. Though not easy, our family provided stability to him for ten months while his biological mother finished her prison sentence.
Being a foster family gave us the unique opportunity to support this family in time of crisis. However, this family has a happy ending. The mom of that sweet little boy had the chance to clean up while in jail, she never reoffended, and her child never went back into the foster care system. I realized through her journey that God had a plan for me and my family. We were being called to show God’s grace, forgiveness, and love to those who were in desperate need.
After he left, we took in another child. He was a four-month-old boy named Brendan. This journey would be much different than the first. This little boy came from a mom who shook him, didn’t feed him, and bathed him in a creek. When he came to us he was only thirteen pounds. Our family had never seen anything like this. Our hearts broke for him and we jumped in with open arms (literally) to show him love, give him the nurturing he so desperately needed, and pray healing for him.
Over the next year, his biological mother showed no signs of relinquishing her addiction to heroin, so her little boy would stay in the foster care system until he was adopted. At that time, we knew we had a decision to make. He would either stay with us forever or move on to other foster homes until he was adopted. We began to pray and ask God what to do.
For our kids, it was a no-brainer. He was their little brother and the thought of him leaving appalled all of them. For my husband and me, it was a much bigger decision. But God is good and He gave us the answer quickly. We began the work to make him a Hasse. He is 15 now and we couldn’t imagine our family without him. He made our family whole and showed us all the power of God’s love and redemption.
God used this time in my life to plant a seed of passion for kids and families that are in crisis. Children do not ask to be abused, neglected, and abandoned. Sometimes parents find themselves in places of despair. God asked our family to be a light for them in their darkness. He asked us to show forgiveness and support without judgement. He asked us to add one more to our family when a mom clung to her addiction.
This part of my journey has given me passion, without borders, to help kids in crisis here in my hometown, to come alongside families who foster these children, and to show God’s grace through acts of hospitality to the employees at Child Welfare.
When the leaders of Every Child came to our community and showed me their vision, it mirrored my passion and I jumped at the chance to show love, value, and worth to kids in foster care through their model. I was overjoyed to know that this work also came alongside foster families and I couldn’t wait to get to work. It brought tears to my eyes to have ways to say “thank you” to those who are on the front lines of this crisis in our county: the hard-working men and women at Child Welfare.
In what capacity do you serve at Every Child?
I serve as the Director of Every Child in Jackson County. Our goal is to have a waiting list of foster families in Jackson County. We want to see every foster family supported by their community. We want to show kids that are in this broken place that their community loves them and sees them as valuable. My role is to be out in our community sharing our vision and mission. I oversee and manage our initiatives and work with our statewide team.
What have been some obvious “wins” that you have seen through the ministry of Every Child?
One of my favorite wins is our “Neighborhood” initiative. This program brings community members alongside a foster family with support of meals, random acts of kindness, and gentle care. We have seen time and time again how this has given the foster families just what they needed to continue fostering. It also shows our community just what fostering is all about. It is a win-win for both parties.
“Office Buddies” is a win on a deep heart level. Office Buddies are community members who volunteer to sit with a child who has just been brought into care. Most often these children are at critical stress and hurt levels. These gentle community members are at the agency waiting to greet the child and hang out with them until a foster parent comes to get them. Office Buddies give them snacks, play games, or read to them. Through this program, we have seen the power that love and gentleness does to these vulnerable children.
Another big win is the hospitality that we get to facilitate toward the nearly 200 child welfare workers here in Jackson County. They work in a role that is often understaffed and overworked with highly emotional and stressful cases. It is a difficult gig! However, we want to display to them that they matter and what they do matters.
To display that, we have facilitated local businesses and faith-based organizations to provide hospitality for child welfare workers. Recently, a local church organized a barbeque that included one person donating their locally raised organic beef for the hamburgers. The church’s worship band also played music at the barbeque.
We also facilitate local businesses and faith-based organizations to provide welcome boxes to foster parents, baby bags to foster children, snack pantries, and also clothing closets.
How do you see the gospel displayed by what you do?
Being a Christian is who I am. I live by the principles in the Bible and Jesus is my Lord and Savior. With that being said, God is love; He asks us to show grace and forgiveness to those around us. He asks us to lend a helping hand to the less fortunate. I see Every Child as the perfect way for me to live out my Christian values in a real and honest way.
What would be your encouragement to individuals who may be hesitant to serve in our local community?
For me, this passion is from God so my answer comes through that lens. If God has given you a passion for something, listen to it! Dive into the deep end of it. God does not always call the equipped, He equips the called. If you are saying yes to what He has called you to do, He will give you exactly what you need to do the mission.
I had no experience in running a nonprofit, I’ve never had a job like this before. God has been faithful to give me exactly what I need when I need it. I won’t tell you that this job has been sunshine and roses. It has been quite the opposite, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. However, God has consistently reminded me that His work is sometimes hard and that is to be expected. Stay true to the passion He has put inside you. He will never leave you to do the job alone.