How a foster couple uses Odyssey to share God’s love with their foster kids
Karen has been a fan of Adventures in Odyssey for most of her life. “I was 11,” she recalls. “I really got interested in it and got my mom to get that first set on tape. So I had that first edition on tape and I fell in love with it and had to listen to it.”
Her love for Odyssey continued through her college years and into adulthood. “I have been married for 23 years and I listen to them a lot. They are my travel companion,” she says with a smile. “When I work around the house and I don’t have any kids around, I just throw it on and I listen to the stories as I clean my house.”
Karen and her husband, Ryan, have no children of their own but have fostered 11 kids over the past two years. Not only are they both huge fans of Odyssey, but they’ve gotten their foster kids hooked on it as well, using it to share God’s love with them.
“My kids had been in five different homes previously, so you are parenting five different parenting styles,” Karen explains. “You are figuring out who they are and the best way to approach them.”
“We had an 11-year-old and a two-year-old for about five weeks in our home,” she continues. “When the 11-year-old saw my collection of Odyssey, she just could not believe her eyes. ‘I can listen to these any time I want?’ she asked. I said, ‘Yep!’”
Karen and Ryan live nearly 40 minutes from town, so they always play Odyssey in the car for their kids during those long drives. At the end of a trip, Karen often hears the kids exclaim, “We can’t be done yet! We have to listen to the rest of this episode before we get out!”
On one occasion, her tired two-year-old sighed, “No Odyssey,” before falling asleep. Karen later realized what he meant. “He didn’t want to miss it! And he is only two years old!” she enthused. “There is God’s message coming through to a child who can’t even understand but he can engage with it.”
It hasn’t been as smooth with every child. “I had a nine-year-old and it was his first time in care,” she recalls. “He didn’t come from a Christian background of any sort, he was addicted to TV and screen time and he was really upset there was no video player in the car.”
At first, this young boy thought Odyssey was corny and complained about listening to it on the drives, but gradually he became captivated by the stories. “We had to do a two-hour trip and he said, ‘I don’t think I can do this, we have no movie’,” Karen remembers. “But he didn’t care the whole time because we were listening to Adventures in Odyssey.”
With government rules that restrict foster parents from sharing their faith with their kids, Karen is especially thankful for Odyssey. “I can pick the topic from Odyssey that the kids need to hear, and they can get the Gospel that way using their imagination,” she explains.
Karen and Ryan work hard to create a safe space in their home, where their foster kids know they are loved. “This sets the background to introduce them to Adventures in Odyssey, and God’s word is already being applied in their heart,” she adds. “A lot of the kids lately have been babies, two and under. But the biggest transformation was that nine-year-old.”
In addition to the audio adventures, Karen also loves reading Adventures in Odyssey stories to her kids. “I have all the Young Whit books,” she says. “I believe that when you read a book, it sets the stage for God to be able to work into their lives.”
“I find that once I started fostering, I started praying more,” Karen concludes. “I think God really takes that to heart and is able to even work in the children’s heart before they know what they’re going to listen to.”
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