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Twenty three years ago, Mark and Denise Strimple decided to become foster parents. Through the years they have brought more than thirty abused and neglected children into their homes &ellipsis; and their hearts. Cheryl Parker reports.

Audio Sermon:

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Video Sermon:

(Locator: Bethel, Ohio)

Denise Strimple, Foster Parent: "We start over again each time we have a new kid, everybody wants to come and see the baby."

Mark Strimple, Foster Parent: "I always felt that I needed to take care of children."

Denise Strimple: "I am Denise Strimple and I am from the Bethel United Methodist Church in Bethel, Ohio. My husband Mark and I have been foster parents for 23 years and what started as a ministry and personal pursuit has turned into a churchwide ministry of foster and adoption support. You always get attached, that's part of the fun and part of the sadness to be a parent-- you have to love your child."

Mark Strimple: "It is hard. You basically know that you've got 'em on the right foot. They can get out there and you know they're going to a good home."

Twelve years ago, the Strimples introduced Linda and Terry Devore to a child who would complete their family.

Voice of Adopted Daughter: "I remember when I was little they had a barn outside and I would always go play with the kittens."

Denise Strimple: "I think Terry fell in love. He would see her running around and he'd just kind of follow her around."

Terry Devore: "She was like a little lightning bolt. She just ran from one end of the church to the other and she was so cute."

Linda Devore: "And she turned around and the first thing she did was put her hand on my face, just as soft as sweet as can be, and she just gave me this huge smile&ellipsis;and that was it!"

Adopted Daughter: "Having family means you feel safer."

Terry Devore: "I think it's important for the church to be involved in the adoption ministry because the church is all about family, it's about love."

The Strimples say the number of kids in their area in need of foster care has tripled in the last two decades. They're grateful to their United Methodist church family for helping children find forever homes.

The Rev. Bill Bowdle, Bethel United Methodist Church: "The Joy of Adoption service is held to celebrate families of children who have been fully adopted into forever families."

The Rev. Brian Brown, District Superintendent, Ohio River Valley: "&ellipsis;this year, the thought of 46 children and 24 families and the lives that will be reshaped and how that branches out into the larger community."

Denise Strimple: "Any church can do it. If you have a group of foster parents and adoptive parents that are there, they should rally around it and build on that and find ways to support children that need help."

Voice of Mark Strimple: "That's a God thing right there."

Bill Bowdle: "We've become in a sense the hands and the feet and the heart of Christ extended toward these children."

Conference Accounts

Bank: Kenya Commercial Bank

A/C Name: UMC Kenya-Ethiopia Conference

A/C Number: 1219869457


Paybill Number: 522522

A/C Name: UMC Kenya-Ethiopia Conference

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