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WATCH | Lake Valley hosts testimonials for The CALL Encounter

by Courtney Edwards | March 12, 2023 at 4:04 a.m.
Lindsay, left, and Dave Hassell present their experience as adoptive parents with The CALL and the foster system to the attendees of The CALL Encounter event. – Photo by Courtney Edwards of The Sentinel-Record

Lake Valley Community Church hosted The CALL Encounter event to raise awareness about the foster care crisis in the state and the community on March 5.

The worship event featured singing, prayer and testimonials from a few families and individuals involved with The CALL.

Dave and Lindsay Hassell, members at Lake Valley Community Church and adoptive parents, spoke about their experience and why they chose to adopt.

"We have two children that we have adopted through (Division of Children and Family Services) through The CALL," Lindsay Hassell said. "They're in the back now. They're 7 and 8, and we've had them since they were teeny tiny."

The couple first got involved with The CALL thanks to a relationship with Mary Carol Pederson, who founded the organization, she said.

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"When we started talking about if foster care was the faithful thing for us to do as a family, Lindsay had just gone to a women's conference that our church was hosting," Dave Hassell said.

"She had a conversation with one of the folks involved that, like serving Jesus the most simple, like smallest, most grand level that that can be executed on, Jesus even says that the purest form of religion is helping orphans and widows. And she came back just going, like 'Sweetie, we have to do this.' And she said, 'Would you think about it?' And I told her that I would think about it, but what I really meant to say was 'No.'

"I did not want to talk about it. It was intimidating to me. I was scared to death. I thought there are gonna be complications that this introduces to our household that I do not have the skill set to navigate. This is going to be hard."

Instead of talking about it, however, the Hassells went to an informational meeting, where Dave Hassell could ask any questions, he said.

"I thought, 'Holy smokes, this is a great opportunity,'" he said. "'I'm gonna (think) up some questions about all the difficulties of this, we're gonna hear some raw stories, and there's no way we're gonna -- she'll let me off the hook.'

"Well, instead what happened was, I don't know if this is still true or not, but at the time a few years ago when we got involved, the presenter said, 'If every church in Arkansas would just have one family be willing to host an orphan, just one family from every church, that there would be no orphans in Arkansas.' It was one of just, like, a couple of moments in my whole life where just, like, in a minute, within seconds, the Lord just shifted my heart. Like, we have to."

The statistic Dave Hassell heard years ago is still true today. There were more than 4,600 children in foster care in Arkansas as of May 2022, according to information from the Arkansas House of Representatives. There are more than 5,600 churches in the state, according to a presentation by The CALL volunteer Shea Lewis and his family.

"I think we got involved with that thinking, like 'We're going to help children,'" Lindsay Hassell said. "'We're going to be a safe place for children.' And what has come out of it that has been really cool for us to learn is just, like, we want parents to win. We want the thriving and the flourishing of all people because that's what God's heart is."

One of the most difficult things involved in deciding whether to foster or not includes attachment. Many times, the ultimate goal for children in foster care is reunification with their biological parents. This can make it difficult for foster parents, especially knowing the child's previous circumstances that led to them being placed in foster care in the first place.

However, a foster parent's goal needs to be what is best for the child, which many times is reunification.

"If you were involved in foster care, if you're an open family, you've probably heard someone who's well-meaning say, 'Well, I could just never do that. I just get so attached. I would just get so attached to a child,'" Lindsay Hassell said.

"And I kind of always just push back and say, 'That's exactly the type of person that would be perfect for being involved in foster care.' We are the adults. We can handle the heartbreak. We can handle the emotions that come with that.

"We don't have to ask a child to potentially miss out on unconditional love because we're afraid of what it would do to us."

Print Headline: WATCH | Lake Valley hosts testimonials for The CALL Encounter


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