Kathy and Craig could never predict when the phone might ring. Inevitably, a call would come. On the other end of the line was their grandsons’ father, a single dad who not only struggled to care for his boys, Jonathan and Thomas, but struggled to care for himself.
“He would get on drugs and drink alcohol and not have a job. He couldn’t feed them,” Kathy divulges. “He would call us and get us to come get the boys.”
The boys’ mother, who had left years earlier and moved to a different state, was no longer in the family’s life. Craig and Kathy were the only people their son-in-law could turn to in times of crisis.
Each time the boys’ father reached out to them, they knew Jonathan and Thomas needed them right away. The final time Kathy and Craig received a call, the situation was dire.
“The last time it was worse,” Kathy says. “I had to go get both boys that night.”
The couple discovered that their grandsons, along with their father, were living on the street.
“We were sleeping under bridges,” thirteen-year-old Jonathan reveals. “Sometimes we ate, sometimes we didn’t. It was like that.”
For their grandsons’ well-being, Kathy and Craig became Jonathan and Thomas’ legal custodians. While the decision to take the boys into their home immediately gave them the care they needed, the elderly couple found out quickly that providing for them long term would be impossible.
“I knew they deeply loved them and wanted to take care of them,” says Ken Gibson, the family’s pastor at Long Shoals Baptist Church in Lincolnton, “but I knew financially and health-wise they wouldn’t be able to.”
Their pastor made a phone call of his own to Michael C. Blackwell, President of Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH). Within two days of Reverend Gibson’s phone call, Kathy and Craig’s grandsons arrived at Mills Home in Thomasville where they now live.
“Their coming to BCH has been a blessing to me and my husband,” Kathy says. “They’re my boys now, and I’m going to do what’s best for them even though I can’t have them with us all the time.”
At Mills Home, the boys stay in close contact with their grandparents and see them often. At first it was not easy transitioning from their grandparents’ home to live in a residential cottage with houseparents and other children.
“I felt kind of mad because I didn’t want to leave my maw-maw and paw-paw,” says nine-year-old Thomas. “When I got here, I knew it would be a good place where we could still call our maw-maw and paw-paw and family members.”
The move has eased the grandparents’ concerns, and the brothers no longer have to worry about whether they will have a safe place to sleep or good food to eat.
“We are fed really well,” Jonathan says. “We also have authority figures. We call them house-parents, but I think of them as my mom and dad.”
“That relationship we have with the children is the most important thing,” says houseparent Samantha Snipes. “That and making them feel loved.”
Samantha and her husband Shawn work together to care for the children. They are one of several married couples serving as houseparents.
“We get to minister to them and show them God’s love,” says Shawn. “They have a warm bed to sleep in and a roof over their head – they don’t have to sleep under a bridge.
“Jonathan has told us several times how thankful he is to have food every day.”
The support of North Carolina Baptists plays a pivotal part in providing nutritious meals and all the necessities required to give BCH’s residents the care they need.
“It’s just amazing to see the churches and Baptist Children’s Homes coming together to further the gospel, to change lives, and to give hope to all these children,” houseparent Russ McLamb shares. “Through the gospel, and the Baptist churches working with us, we’re able to provide that.”
Russ’s wife Teresa agrees. “We are coming together as one, as one whole, to support these two young men and lead them hopefully into an awesome adulthood.”
Jonathan and Thomas are thriving because of the support they have from BCH, their grandparents, North Carolina Baptists, and a number of volunteers and friends. With the worries of the past behind them, the boys are able to focus on their goals.
“I’m going to go through college, get me a car, get me a job, and get me an apartment,” Jonathan shares. “And then I’m going to try to start working at Baptist Children’s Homes.”
Jonathan and Thomas' story is the focus of the 2015 ANNUAL OFFERING for Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina. Please encourage your church to collect an offering to bring help and hope to the children and families BCH serves. Learn more about the offering at www.bchfamily.org/offering. You can help immediately by giving online by www.bchfamily.org/givenow.