When Jules Thompson, M.A.T.S. ’18, was six years old, her parents found out about a little girl who needed a temporary home.
“She was deaf, and my mom was a sign language interpreter and teaches ASL,” Jules said.
The young girl needed a place to go for several months before going to an adoptive placement, and her parents became licensed therapeutic foster parents so they could provide that.
“It was supposed to be a one-and-done situation, but that’s not how that ever works,” Jules said.
A few weeks after the child went to her adoptive home, her parents received a call about providing a home for a 15-month-old girl who was extremely medically fragile. They said yes. Seven years later, they had adopted both her and her younger sister, who also had significant special needs.
As her family changed, Jules' view on what it looked like to follow Christ and care for others shifted, too. She left home, graduated from college and went to Beeson Divinity School. While she was there, Jules had an internship with the foster care ministry at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham.
“I met an incredible mentor there, Anita Bucher, and I began to wonder how I could support foster families personally,” she said.
From there, she found a job as volunteer coordinator at Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries, and she married Kyle Thompson, M.Div. ’19, whom she met at Beeson.
Kyle said the realm of orphan care ministry wasn’t on his radar until they started dating. But God grew his heart for foster care, and as he built a house for the two of them after they married, he began to feel compelled to share the space they would have with others who needed it.
“I didn’t know what my life would turn out to be, I just knew what I had experienced previously was not it,” he said. “I kind of embraced the theology behind John Piper’s ‘Don’t Waste Your Life’ message, and wondered, ‘What does it look like to not waste my life?’”
Over time, he decided he was “no longer motivated toward the dream of stability, financial security and living a stress-free life.”
“My first priority is helping others as a disciple of Christ and letting all the fulfillment of my needs flow from that place instead of the reverse,” Kyle said.
So the two decided to leverage their home sacrificially for the sake of loving others as they believed Christ called them to do. They welcomed two young brothers into their home a year and a half ago and are now moving toward adoption.
“Through it, God taught us what the messiness of ministry could really look like,” Kyle said. “Yes, we’re doing a good thing and following Jesus and fulfilling what we believe is our life’s greatest calling of loving Jesus and those around us. But I don’t want to romanticize it. It was at times borderline horrific the things we had to go through in this process. It’s a testament to the fact that following Jesus involves taking up a cross.”
Caring for children in need comes with spiritual warfare, Jules said. “Sometimes I have felt like I needed to pick up a sword and swing it on behalf of these children we have been entrusted with. We have questioned at times the best way to fight for them in a way that honors God and them.”
But when asked if it’s worth it, both Kyle and Jules said yes.
“We encourage others to go into it with eyes wide open knowing it will probably be the hardest thing they’ve ever done,” Kyle said.
They both say one of the biggest blessings in the process has been the way their church community has stepped in to support them. They live in South Carolina now and both work for Connie Maxwell Children’s Ministries. Jules serves as director of volunteer services, and Kyle serves as digital marketing specialist.
“Our church community has been truly incredible to care for us and surround us and say, ‘How can we support you, and what do you need,’” she said.
A fellow small group member also felt compelled to fast and pray once a week for the Thompsons’ adoption process and assembled a group thread of people who also wanted to be involved.
“To know people are committed to love our family and our boys in that way has meant the world to us,” Jules said.
Kyle said on a recent night when Jules had to take their youngest to the emergency room, a church friend sent Kyle a text and told him that he and his wife could come over and care for their older son at any hour of the night if they were needed.
That type of help is the kind they treasure, Kyle said. He said any foster family would be grateful for people who are willing to support them sacrificially in those kinds of ways.
“If you’d like to help families who are caring for orphans, don’t choose the things that look good on social media—let it be the things that inconvenience you,” he said.