Honolulu Family Advocacy Ministry in the Works

By Send Relief Staff

When Noelani Okawara and her husband Shaw started their church in Honolulu 14 years ago, they knew God was leading them to support vulnerable children and families across Hawaii in any way they could.

After working as a school counselor, the need to support struggling families in the community was only further confirmed in Noelani, but she had concerns that the size of their congregation or the facility’s limitations would prevent further organization around this cause.

That’s when she got connected with Send Relief’s Family Advocacy Ministry (FAM), a step-by-step ministry strategy that helps churches serve and advocate for vulnerable children and families as well as those called to foster and adopt.

“When we discovered FAM, we thought ‘perfect, this is our way in,’” Noelani shared. “At our church, we already do a monthly food distribution in partnership with a foodbank drive-in, so we see upwards of 200 families every month. We decided to place a survey on the registration form asking if participants were adoptive or fostering families who needed prayer and support.”

From this simple act of obedience, Noelani and her husband’s 50-member congregation has already been connected with nearly 20 families in need of community as they navigate adopting and fostering at-risk children. Their church has come alongside these families in gifting them with car seats, cribs, baby wipes, diapers and a crew of smiling faces whenever they are in need. They have also reached out to local educators and public school systems to see if they can refer struggling children and families to their community resources.

“We’re a small church, so we can’t always meet bigger needs like covering rent—but we’re connecting these families with other agencies as we offer connection, prayer and invitations to our services and small groups,” Noelani stated.

“We were really intimidated about starting a program like this and are still very much in the foundational stages, but my advice to others would be to just take the first step and start, even when it’s scary. It’s a learning process, but we are called to care for others and FAMs are where to start.”

If you or your church are interested in starting a family advocacy ministry of your own, click here for more information or to get started today.

Published May 31, 2023

Send Relief Staff