Growing up, Elisha became numb to the chaos that engulfed his life. The abuse he endured from his mother and her boyfriend, the cockroaches that crawled over him as he slept at night, and the violence entrenched in his neighborhood were all too common.
“Where I lived, hearing a gunshot was the same as hearing a doorbell ring,” the seventeen year-old says.
Elisha hated his life and the way he was treated. He felt as if he had no family and no one on whom he could depend. A desire to better his life led to a desperate choice – Elisha joined a gang, becoming involved in the violence he had wished he could escape.
“I just wanted someone I could call my family,” Elisha confides. “I needed money for food and to help my younger brothers.”
To Elisha, a gang life was his only choice. He thought the gang would be his answer, but instead of bringing his life out of darkness, it was a pathway leading him to a more dangerous place.
As things grew darker in his life, his mother was arrested and he and his brothers were left solely under their grandmother’s provision. But after determining she could not care for the boys, she contacted the department of social services.
His brothers were placed into foster care and Elisha came to Mills Home in September 2013. It is at Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) Thomasville campus that Elisha found the support and belonging he needed.
Elisha says that the biggest change for him are the people around him who help him. Those people include houseparents Shawn and Samantha Snipes and case manager Andy Snovak. At Mills Home, Elisha’s life improved. A clean, safe cottage and good, healthy food gave him hope. He began to respond to the Gospel and his faith has become an integral part of who he is today.
“I’ve realized here that a relationship with God is so much deeper, and the benefits so much better, than what I thought it could ever be,” Elisha says.
“His faith is a driving force,” Snovak says. “He shares his faith like no one else.” Elisha finds opportunities to encourage the other residents on campus. His houseparents see him as a leader in his cottage. If he sees one of the residents struggling, he’ll often stop and lend advice.
“One of the kids knew he wasn’t doing a good job and was upset with himself,” Elisha recounts. “I told him that God may be sad by the things we do, but He thinks we’re wonderful. He knows that we aren’t perfect.”
He continues, “Ms. Sam (Samantha Snipes) told me that it’s never a waste of time if I’m
positively encouraging someone. I know that God honors that.”
The teen carries his faith with him to his part-time job at a local grocery store. Some customers have gotten to know him and will intentionally come to his cash register.
“One lady shared with me that her daughter was in a car accident. She began to cry
when I told her I would pray for her daughter,” Elisha reveals.
Elisha is saving his money. He’s not certain what the future holds, but he’s trusting God. “Before coming here, I had no plans,” he says. “With the chaos in my neighborhood, I was planning on being killed by the time I was 18. Now, I’m going to let God take care of my future.”