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Forgiveness Is Roberta's Story

November 4, 2009

By J. Blake Ragsdale

Roberta can’t help but smile as she sits with her children by the lake at Broyhill Home. The family unpacks fresh, chicken salad sandwiches and cool drinks from their picnic basket.

Noah and Hannah eat pausing every so often to observe fish splashing in the placid waters. Roberta reminices about days gone by when she fished in the lake. She was not much older than her children when she came to live at Baptist Children’s Homes’ western area campus.

As a child, Roberta’s life was filled with fear. Roberta was six-years-old when she, her two siblings, and mother moved in with Frank.

At first, her mother’s boyfriend was nice, but soon Frank’s demeanor changed completely.

“He started hitting us, spanking us, and really hurting us,” Roberta recalls. “And my mom did nothing.”

Roberta’s mother continued to allow Frank to torment her children. Roberta remembers instances when she was not allowed to eat, and she was forced to sleep outdoors on the cold, hard ground. Frank’s abuse and the humiliation he caused had no boundaries.

“He would feed me on the ground like a dog,” Roberta reveals. “He would say it was because I was nasty, dirty, or whatever he could think of that day.”

The suffering continued unchecked for years until the Department of Social Services learned about the children’s tumultuous situation and intervened.

When the police arrived, they gave Roberta’s mother a choice of staying with Frank or keeping her children.

“My mother said, ‘If I have to choose, I choose him,’” a tearful Roberta remembers. “That was hard. Really hard.”

Roberta’s mother and Frank were charged with 52 counts of child abuse. Roberta and her younger sister and brother were placed in separate foster homes until they were reunited at Broyhill Home in Clyde.

“Before, I didn’t know what family was all about,” Roberta says. “When I came, I met people who loved and accepted me.”

Among those people were house parents Jim and Vivian Johnson.

“She was able to work through a lot of anger and resentment,” Vivian says. “It was amazing to see her transformation, especially when she accepted Christ.”

At Baptist Children’s Homes, caring staff members taught Roberta about God’s love and forgiveness.

“I remember them praying for us and some of the devotions in the cottage,” Roberta says. “Those things fed my soul.”

Roberta’s mother eventually left Frank. And through her relationship with God, Roberta was able to forgive her mother.

“The Lord had offered the greatest forgiveness towards others,” Roberta explains. “So, I had to forgive her. I had to take that step.”

Today, the mother and daughter relationship is restored. Roberta is a caretaker of her mother who is experiencing serious health problems.

“It’s the power of forgiveness and how Baptist Children’s Homes helped me start that journey of forgiveness,” Roberta says.

Today, with Noah, Hannah and her husband Aaron by her side, the cycle of abuse in Roberta’s life is broken.

“I am a child of Baptist Children’s Homes,” Roberta says. “If someone hadn’t helped me, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

Note: Click on www.bchfamily.org/offering and scroll down to watch Roberta's inspirational video.