Angel was born with a great capacity to love and laugh. Her smile warms the hearts of those she meets. Today, she is sharing her testimony with a group of Western Carolina University (WCU) leaders visiting Broyhill Home in Clyde.
“This is my home,” Angels says as her eyes sparkle. “I can look back and see how God has loved me, brought me here, and gave me people who care for me.”
Eighteen-year-old Angel has lived at Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) western campus for four years.
“My dad died when I was an infant,” she recounts. “My mom and step-father used drugs. They abused each other and abused me and my siblings. There were many days when we had no food. And then we lost our home.”
She says it seems like the Department of Social Services “has always” been a part of her life. The story she tells is in stark contrast to the young person the WCU group sees standing before them. Angel graduates from high school in a few weeks and begins Haywood Community College in the fall.
Despite the harshness of her childhood, Angel says that she was angry when she first arrived at Broyhill Home. “I couldn’t help but look around at other children and ask, ‘Why me?’ I was hurt and felt sorry for myself. It may be hard to believe, but I just wanted to go home – as bad as it was. I just wanted to leave.”
But like an ice cube sitting in the sun, the hardness around her heart began to melt. She says she went from being angry at people – staff members, cottage parents, the other children – to beginning to trust others.
“I used to be so mad at people I didn’t even know,” she laughs. “But it changed. My cottage parents listened to my hurt. They told me over and over again that they loved me – I wasn’t used to people caring about me.”
She says she began to talk and share. “That was so big. I didn’t open up and talk at that time in my life – the pain stayed inside, locked away. It was difficult to talk about my feelings, to talk about what was going on.”
She says she began to do simple things in her cottage. She helped cook. She joined the other girls in her cottage and watched fun movies late into the night. She remembers laughing. She says that she and the girls would talk for hours.
“They made me feel like family,” Angel says. “I have a bunch of sisters now. They are there for me. We are silly sometimes and we fuss, but I know someone always has my back.”
She says that every child at BCH has the need to be loved. “I needed to be told that I was loved. When we open up to the love here, things begin to change.”
The biggest change came when she asked Christ to come into her life.
“I got saved,” she says. “Having Christians around me, seeing them live out their faith, it makes a difference.”
Angel reads her Bible and says she prays throughout the day. “I’m getting closer to the Lord. He knows me, where I’ve been and what I go through. I’m learning to trust Him.”
She and her cottage attend a local North Carolina Baptist church on Sundays. She says it is important. “We all benefit from being with other people who know the Lord.”
Angel’s weekday starts at 5:30 (“I still hate getting up that early,” she confides.) There are cottage devotions, time to get ready for school, and breakfast together. Then there are classes and work in the afternoon.
She has just been promoted to shift manager at the local Wendy’s. She is comfortable leading her co-workers, but she is quick to say she is not “bossy.” She has a car and saves money every month. “I have to be honest, I love to shop. But I’m putting more money away for when I start college – my priorities have changed. I’m learning to focus on what I need, not on what I want.”
Angel is a good student. She gets rousing applause from the WCU group when she says she will be transferring to the Cullowhee campus after completing two years at the community college. She tells them she is planning to be in a medical related field.
Angel says she cannot imagine who she would have become if she had not come to live at Broyhill Home. Her eyes glisten. Her ever-present smile fades. Her voice resounds. “I’m so thankful for everyone who has cared for me and the other children – for all those who help us.”
You can support Angel and other children by making an online gift to Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina today at www.bchfamily.org/givenow