It’s the final day of 2016 Homecoming at Mills Home. Attendees have laughed, fellowshipped, and eaten great food. Now, they gather in Mills Home Baptist Church located at the center of the Thomasville campus. The former residents from across the years, today’s boys and girls, former and current staff members, and friends and family members find their seats as the organ chimes ring in the worship hour.
The speaker, Reverend Dwight Millsaps, is introduced by Mills Home Alumni Association president Bob Mayton. Millsaps lived at Mills Home with his sister Frieda in the 1960s. Today, he is the pastor of God’s Gathering Place in Cleveland, Tennessee.
“It’s been an emotional weekend for me,” Millsaps says. “I left Mills Home when I was 15 years old. I realized Friday night when I laid my head on the pillow here on campus – I realized it had been 50 years since I slept here as a boy.”
Millsaps has the alumni’s attention as he recounts living at Mills Home. He tells stories about the hay barn, the grain silo, and delivering fresh milk from the Home’s dairy cows to all the cottages. He tells of playing sports, how he had been an all-star basketball player and had scored 21 points in a championship game.
Millsaps remembers the superintendent, cottage parents and coaches. The audience of mostly former residents chuckle, wipe an occasional tear, and reminisce with each story.
The boys and girls who live at Mills Home today listen politely. After all, it was a time for the alumni who have returned home for the weekend. But then Millsap turns his attention to the present day.
“This is for the children, now,” he says as the current residents sit up in their seats. “It’s okay. I’ve sat where you are sitting and I don’t think I listened to the preacher then either.”
The former child in care told the boys and girls that God has a plan for their lives. “You may not see it now. It’s hard from where you are sitting today to know that God is at work in your life.”
Then Millsaps began the tale of his journey. He tells how he came to Mills Home after his parents’ breakup.He confesses he was angry. He says he was furious that his parents wouldn’t fix their problems.
Then he talks about the people who helped the hurt subside. “Seeds were planted in my heart when I lived here – seeds of love. I learned Bible verses that I remember today. I was taught how to behave in the world and get along with others”
He tells how after he left Mills Home, he fought in Vietnam. He tells them about returning home and going to work and how one day his life was changed forever.
“I got off my pride and God began to work in my life,” he begins. “I was sitting in my work truck and the Holy Spirit began to touch my heart. I knew I was supposed to be up that telephone pole and do my job, but I ended up walking around my truck for 45 minutes. Finally, on top of that pole I collapsed across the support and cried out, ‘Lord Jesus, save me.’”
He tells the audience that getting right with God remedies things. Six years later he surrendered to the ministry and his life came fully into focus.
“Being here is not permanent,” he tells the children. “Your past may have been horrifying. We all have had bad things happen to us. But life comes into focus the day you get saved. Remember, you’re here only for a little while. I assure you that God has something for you. You are the best of His creation. He made you in His image and loves you more than the stars above. Look toward your future. Look to God for your tomorrows.”
Learn more about the services BCH has to offer www.bchfamily.org