May 2021 – “Single mom means I don’t know your name, but I know what you did,” said *Grace, a single mom in a Caring People Care Group.
According to a 2019 Statista survey, there were 15.76 million children in the United States living with a single mother. Today, due to death, abandonment, and divorce, that number continues to grow exponentially. Nevertheless, many single mothers face judgment based on past decisions. By replacing judgment with love, The Caring People (TCP) is shattering stereotypes and investing in these special moms with the gospel.
Since its inception in 1997, TCP, based in Branson, Missouri, has changed – and helped churches improve – the lives of thousands of single moms and their children. They have reached this number by creating Christ-centered communities that embrace single moms while encouraging them to grow in Christ. CEO Louanne Dietrich spoke with AFA Journal to discuss the ministry and how it has impacted some of the nation’s most needy and forgotten single moms.
Love instead of judgment
Single motherhood can be messy and is not what many consider it to be. As Grace mentioned, judgment and shame often come with being a single mother. When in reality, many, if not all, never expected to face such a situation.
“Most people, even people in the church,” Dietrich continued, “think that single moms have never been married, and that’s not true. Most single moms have been married.”
TCP not only serves divorced moms but also those who have never been married and those who are widowed. The ministry also serves single grandmothers raising grandchildren. Regardless of a woman’s past or how she became a single mom, TCP does life with these women instead of just offering advice and occasional help.
TCP’s primary mission is to equip and prepare local churches to serve single mothers. By reaching out to pastors and other church leaders, TCP encourages churches to begin a ministry for single moms.
After the ministry is started, and Christian women are trained to teach, the church introduces a weekly Care Group. TCP is currently writing curriculum for use with single moms.
“It starts at church,” said Dietrich. “We have to begin by training up strong Christian women who are called to serve single moms.”
Care Groups are designed as a time where single mothers, weary moms, are given the freedom to connect with those likeminded. These single moms realize they aren’t alone, share burdens, and grow in Christ. The group offers a safe and judgment-free zone as well as childcare and fellowship.
On top of having weekly meetings, Care Groups have special events and opportunities to enjoy time with newfound friends and sisters in Christ. In turn, Dietrich mentioned there is “no better recruiter than single moms.” By linking arms with others facing similar situations, the ministry and the body of Christ are strengthened as they bring others to join.
“They tend to invite their babysitters, co-workers, neighbors, and family,” Dietrich explained.
Helping the hurting
When women begin their journey with TCP, needs vary. Many single moms hesitate to ask for help or show vulnerability due to past rejection, hurt, and shame. Some may be struggling financially or need an extra hand at the grocery store, but most are looking for something more, even if they do not recognize it immediately.
“Nobody, nobody stopped and helped me,” said Grace. “Nobody talked to me, nobody asked me about what I needed or shared the gospel.”
Needs such as Grace’s became apparent to Dietrich years ago during Christmas. A family had been chosen for sponsorship, and when reaching out to the mom to receive the kids’ wish lists, Dietrich was shocked by her answer. The mom replied, “I don’t even know what that [a wish list] is.”
After discussing the kids’ lists, Dietrich asked about the mother’s Christmas wish list. In disbelief, the mom said, “I get a list? I don’t even know where to start.” Dietrich asked, “What are five things that you would need or want. What comes to mind first?”
“You are not going to believe this, but I need light bulbs,” the mother replied.
Looking for more
Just like this mom, other single mothers face the same reality. Not knowing where to start, they are overwhelmed and unaware of what they really need. As one Care Group leader said before coming to TCP, “I didn’t know what I needed. I just knew I needed something that I didn’t have.”
Just like the rest of the world, these moms need to see the love of Christ, and they need to know they are never alone. Many are searching for hope, even though they may not realize it at the time. Thankfully, through God’s grace, many find exactly what they’re looking for, and more times than not, that is Jesus.
“They have to be met with the unconditional love of Christ,” said Dietrich. “Whether it’s at the grocery store or the workplace, they need a safe no-judgment zone to peel that back for them to receive Him.”
Changing future generations
“When you change the life of the single mom, you change the whole family,” said Dietrich.
These ferocious women will work hard to provide the best for their children. They love their kids, and once they fall in love with Jesus, they seek to raise their children to love Him too.
By focusing on single moms, TCP is equipping, encouraging, and changing the course of future generations.
*For privacy reasons, all names except CEO Louanne Dietrich have been changed.
Julie’s story: Does your church have a Julie?
After 16 years of marriage to an abusive alcoholic, Julie (photo, right, with family) suddenly found herself a single mom in her 30s with two children ages 3 and 9. In the midst of battling serious health issues, she could not work and had no family, friends, or support. Julie was in desperate need of something more but was unsure of where to find it.
Later, at a routine checkup, Julie’s doctor invited her to church. At church, she found The Caring People. In 2015, she reluctantly attended a Care Group, and that was when her life changed. After struggling with forgiveness and lack of confidence, Julie’s Care Group taught her the true love of Jesus. This weekly meeting became more than a safe place and a refuge. It became her family. As a result, on Easter 2017 Julie was baptized.
Through God’s grace, she is now married to a godly man, and their family serves their church in Branson. But most importantly, the lives of her children have been changed eternally.
“I know that I’m doing something right because my kids love Jesus,” said Julie. “The Caring People not only brought Jesus into my life but also the lives of my kids.”
▶ Learn more about the unconditional love and support Julie found at thecaringpeople.org or call 417.334.0131.
▶ See a review of The 10 Best Decisions a Single Mom Can Make here.