And then I asked, "Who will stand with us to defend and care for the neglected, abused, and abandoned children in our community?"
Harvest Family Life Ministries was founded by Bishop Aaron Blake, Sr. in Brownwood, Texas in 2004. At that time, Aaron Blake was a bi-vocational pastor of Greater Faith Community Church and an at-risk counselor at Brownwood High School.
In 2001 while working at Brownwood High School, Aaron met Melvin Johnson, a Brownwood High School student in foster care. After developing a relationship with Melvin and seeing the need in his life for a family, Aaron and his wife Mary were licensed to be foster parents and invited Melvin to live with them. In the following months, Melvin invited more of his foster friends whose placement were disrupted and for whom CPS needed placement. Soon four more young men joined Melvin in the Blake home. With six young men living in the Blake’s home and the state’s continual calls to place more children in their home, Aaron turned to his church family to help care for the children in the foster care system right there in their community. One after another, families from Greater Faith Community Church responded to the call to care for the orphans until there were fifteen families in all committed to becoming foster parents for the 39 children in need at that time. That one day led to an annual day of observation and prayer for orphans, now known to be “Stand Sunday.”
After Aaron Blake’s church became engaged in orphan care through foster and adoption, he began to reach out to his pastor friends. He believed many pastors were like him, ignorant to the plight of children in foster care and how they could help. Bishop Blake began engaging with other churches and pastors, and many pastors opened their doors for him to preach the message of James 1:27 in their churches. The first open door was Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Abilene, Texas pastored by Kelvin Kelly. After the message that Sunday, a young couple approached the pastor and said they had been praying about adopting but didn’t know what to do. They believed God had brought them the answer and the young couple soon adopted a baby girl.
More and more families in surrounding areas where churches opened their doors to hear the message began to foster and adopt children. The number of placements and adoptions grew rapidly. The impact the church had on relieving the number of children out of the foster system was noted by Texas CPS and by the end of 2004, Brown County had more waiting families to receive children into their home than children awaiting placement.
Since 2004, Stand Sunday has been recognized on the second Sunday of November in numerous churches across the US and worldwide. In 2017, Orphan Sunday, an initiative begun by the Christian Alliance for Orphans and Stand Sunday, merged to collectively call the church to action for international orphans and children in foster care here in the U.S. Due to the church engagement efforts of Harvest Family Life Ministries and like minded partners, more and more churches are responding to the call to care for orphans in a variety of ways and we believe the results seen in Brown County can be seen in counties across the nation.
Harvest Family Life Ministries exists to defend, care for, and support abused, abandoned, and neglected children in our community, state, and nation. We do this in our own local community through various programs and by engaging, equipping, and empowering local churches to do the same.
Our Vision is to see the US orphan crisis eradicated one community, one church, and one child at a time.