A Florida pastor and his wife plan to adopt two boys they found outside their church, increasing their family of five to a family of seven (video below).
Pastor Ronnie Stewart and his wife Krystal are the founders of Refuge Church, which has partnered with Metropolitan Ministries of Pasco County. In November 2015, Mark Purcell, a chef with Metropolitan Ministries, found several bags outside the organization.
Upon closer inspection, he found two boys, aged 7 months and 2 years, among the trash bags. Their mother had been hiding in a corner nearby.
"There were actually four or five bags here," Purcell told WTVT News. "A child in a car seat was on top of a bag. The other child was sitting here with his feet, cold. They were only in diapers, no clothes."
Metropolitan Ministries found out that the children’s entire family had been living in a tent in a wooded area, and the Stewarts said they had come to the church’s soup kitchen frequently.
Ronnie asked the family if they could take the children to clean them up and give them shelter from the cold. Soon after, the couple could see how homelessness physically affected the children.
"They were covered in bug bites, head to toe," Krystal recalled. "They were so filthy, that we actually had to bathe, and drain, and bathe again, two different times. The toddler who did have shoes on didn’t have any socks on. When we took his shoes off, the little skin on the top of his feet actually came off."
The following day, the Stewarts brought the children back and tried to help the family find housing, which didn’t work out due to the parents’ substance abuse issues, Bay News 9 reports. One day in November 2015, the parents, along with a social worker, asked the couple to temporarily take the children while they figured out their next move.
"We just looked at each other and knew, there was no other option," Krystal told WTVT News.
That was five months ago. Now, the Stewarts plan to adopt the two boys.
"We don’t look at it as we are something special, we know that they are special, and we’re just excited to be part of their journey," Krystal said.
As of April 6, the couple has raised over $29,000 towards adoption expenses through GoFundMe, which is almost three times as much as their original goal.