Abuse, drugs, violence, neglect, crisis and a lack of food have been the norm for so many of the children who come into Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) care.
Recently, I drove by Stokes Cottage and Hayes-Solomon Cottage at Mills Home. Both yards were filled with children playing. I stopped at the curb. The boys and girls ran up to my car, and all at once, they began telling me about the fun they were having. Every child deserves a safe place where someone they trust will care for them. It makes me happy to see them happy.
My friend Roy Howell made me a beautiful birdhouse for my yard. It is roomy and has a porch where the birds can rest. When it rains, there is more than a bird’s share of worms. It is perfect! But to my surprise, no birds came. Roy also made a birdhouse for my mom, but hers is always full––I couldn’t understand.
I recruited a wise bird watcher to help figure out the problem. He agreed that the birdhouse was exceptional, but there was one problem. He believes my birdhouse is too close to the ground––the birds do not feel safe. I had not given much thought to safety from a bird’s vantage point. He told me that for birds to nest, the consideration is not how “nice” the birdhouse is, but “how safe.”
Looking past my birdhouse, I see Ciara and Jackie coming home. They are both college students. Due to COVID-19, they are living back on campus and doing schoolwork online.
Earlier in their lives, both girls had lived in unsafe conditions. When they came to BCH, they found a home where they were safe, valued and loved. At Mills Home, they found hope and healing––they have blossomed into beautiful, Christian young women.
Three children, ages seven, six and five, came into BCH’s care. They were safe in
a cottage where they were loved and received care. After a short time, the children’s mom began doing better and the department of social services (DSS) allowed the siblings to return home for a trial period.
A couple of months passed. One morning a local school teacher was driving to work and saw the three children walking alongside the road. The oldest, a boy, was carrying the children’s belongings tied up in a sheet and tossed over his shoulder.
The teacher stopped, “Why are you out on the road by yourselves?”
“Momma is passed out on drugs and we haven’t eaten.” The boy pleaded for the teacher to take them back to their cottage.
She notified DSS immediately. A DSS case manager contacted BCH and their cottage parents immediately came. When the boy saw them, he ran into the cottage mom’s arms, “I knew you would come get us!”
The children’s tummies were filled, warm baths were provided and new clothes were given. No longer dirty and hungry, they rested in clean, warm beds. Safety, food, shelter, nurture, love, and trust are crucial. BCH gives children a safe “nest” where children can experience all these things.
When Tyler came to Cameron Boys Camp, he wouldn’t talk. At home, he felt no one listened. He figured it would be the same at Camp. At first, he brought up little concerns, like a scratch on his knee or needing a pencil––just to see if anyone was listening. They were. He realized his chiefs cared. He felt safe enough to pull back the layers of unresolved hurt and ask for help.
His chiefs cried with him, prayed with him, and together, they came up with a plan to move Tyler toward healing. He has grown tremendously. He is becoming more confident because of the safety and security he has felt from day one.
Ellissa lived with parents who were in and out of jail for drug trafficking. Dad was physically abusive. Stepmom made Ellissa steal food. When she ran away, DSS became involved. She was placed with a family member and who ended up being physically abused. DSS intervened and brought her to Mills Home.
At first Ellissa was very quiet and did not want any help. But as time went on, she began to open up. Now after several months, this 11-year-old is happy. Her smile lights up a room. She trusts her cottage parents and knows her “nest” is safe. Today, she is experiencing God’s love and healing.
It seems that whether you are a bird or a child––safety is important. Through your generosity and BCH’s dedicated staff, there is a safe place that is high enough off the ground to be safe. Children form relationships and experience a healing, nurturing place. Together, we provide children a haven where they are protected from the storms and winds of pain.
Together, we are providing a caring Christian environment where children experience God’s message of hope and peace. Thank you!
By the way, I’m working on getting a taller pole for my birdhouse. Being safe is important!
Article Written by Brenda B. Gray, Executive Vice President, Development & Communications