When the children at Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) are asked to quote their favorite scripture, they often recite Jeremiah 29:11.“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
These words offer comfort and encouragement to a child who feels hopeless –– who feels her future is destined to be much like her past. But when a child first comes into care, the scripture is hard to understand. The words “plans to prosper you and not to harm you” are foreign. For a child who has not had clean clothes, food, or a bed in which to sleep, “plans to prosper you” doesn’t fit. For a child who has watched drugs rob him of his parents, or a child who has been mistreated and abused by those who are to love and nurture him, the words “not to harm you” doesn’t fit.
You can see the fear, confusion, hurt, pain, and hopelessness in the eyes of children when they first arrive. If it is a sibling group, often the younger children will cower behind the older siblings. Immediately, we begin the quest to break down walls, provide security and offer a different future.
The smell of bacon, eggs and biscuits floats on the air throughout the cottage. The aroma makes its way to Tamari and Jenn’s room and they think they are dreaming. Then they hear, “Time for breakfast.”
Big smiles reach from cheek to cheek on their faces as they jump up and head for the kitchen. Their housemother greets them and pours each of the 10 children in the cottage a big glass of orange juice. There is laughter and happiness.
“It’s time to pray.” The children bow their heads. The housemother asks if anyone would like to thank God for their food. Spunky, red headed Jason is quick to raise his hand and begins to pray before anyone else volunteers. Tamari and Jenn watch the other children dig in, look at each other, and do likewise.
The houseparents walk the children to the bus stop. And although Tamari and Jenn have not yet been registered for school, they go with the group and wave goodbye to the other children as the bus drives away.
Tamari and Jenn’s houseparents discuss the sisters’ day and encourage the girls as they get ready for a busy day. First, they must go by the campus office and pick up the paperwork needed to enroll in school. The girls are apprehensive –– another school, new teachers, no friends, and more questions. Next, the houseparents share that the girls will go shopping for new school clothes and shoes. The fear they’ve been feeling subsides.
After shopping, they return to the cottage to change and travel to the new school to register. They are surprised at how friendly everyone is. As they check out the cafeteria, two girls from the cottage wave at them.
What a new experience for Tamari and Jenn. After being properly introduced to everyone at the school, they stop by the campus office to pick up new backpacks and school supplies. The backpacks and school supplies were provided through a project coordinated by a local church’s AWANA group.
When the other children arrive from school, homemade cookies with cold glasses of milk are waiting on the counter. Everyone enjoys their snacks and then goes outside and plays. Several ride bikes. Tamari and Jenn are surprised when two of the girls invite them to ride. Again smiles spread across the girls’ faces when they are told the new bikes they are riding belong to them.
After playtime, the children come inside for supper. Afterward, some children do chores while others take turns showering. Once they are all ready to turn in for the evening, the cottage gathers for devotion and prayer time. The children share prayer requests. All pray for families, friends and each other. For the first time, Tamari and Jenn hear the good news proclaimed in Jeremiah 29:11 – 14.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”
It’s been a while since Tamari and Jenn became a part of the BCH family. And everyday they’ve lived here, they have been wrapped in God’s love. The chaos, abuse and pain that was such a part of their past is subsiding. Today, if you ask either sister to quote a favorite scripture, each one would recite:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
These words are no longer hard to comprehend. They can now easily claim and celebrate God’s promise of a hope and a future.
Thank you for all you do to help a child. For information regarding our most pressing needs, call me at 336-689-4442 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article Written by: Brenda B. Gray, Executive Vice President, Development & Communications