Updated: Feb 28
A little over 45 years ago, I walked through the doors of Bellewood Children’s Home in Anchorage, Kentucky to become a house-parent to 15 boys ages 13 to 18. Since that time, I have been so very blessed to be a part of “Building God’s Kingdom” through a ministry of orphan care, connecting thousands of vulnerable children with the gospel lived out through loving Christians called to care for the “least of these.” What a wonderful blessed joy to be
able to witness the transformation taking place in the lives of God’s precious children. It has been an amazing journey. However, not always easy.
For years I have heard the adage, “Find a job you love and you will never have to work a day.” I have not found this to be true. I absolutely love, love, love my job, but because of the trauma filled world we live in, it can sometimes be very hard, risky, messy work.
The powerful transformative grace and hope I have witnessed and experienced over the years have been more than well worth the
investment of my heart, my calling.
So, what is my “why?” My “why” is my faith walk with Jesus. Because of my experience in and through Jesus Christ, I want to share the love, grace, forgiveness, hope, and peace He has showered on my life. My “why” is my faith in Jesus and his calling on my life to care for His children. I know this is also your “why” as you live out God’s calling on your heart to care for “the least of these” as you pray and invest in our ministry in so many ways.
One couple that answered God’s calling on their hearts is Roger and Shanell Cook. I love sharing their story with congregations
all across the state. Shanell and Roger had talked about having as many as six children. After the birth of their son, Jackson, they
were informed they would not be able to biologically have other children. Sixteen years passed. Roger went through a very difficult
but successful battle with esophageal cancer. While on this journey, they began evaluating what God wanted for their family. While BCH was in the process of changing banks, they met Shanell, who shared with them her families desire to foster with the intent to adopt. Through BCH, Shanell and Roger became
licensed foster parents in January, 2018. On Valentine’s Day that year they met a beautiful 6-year-old named Makayla. On April 26,
2019, Makayla became a permanent member of the Cook family. On August 1, 2019, Makayla became a permanent member of God’s family when she accepted Christ into her heart. That is not the end of their journey. They tore out walls and added rooms to care for even more children.
Shanell received yet another call from us asking if they would be willing to foster a 7-month-old. Roger was in training that day.
Shanell sent him a text explaining the call she had received, to which Roger responded with a “yes.” She sent him a second text reiterating the child was a 7-month-old. Roger once again responded “yes.” She sent him a third text reiterating it was a baby and they had not cared for a baby in 17 years. Roger responded by sending her a text which simply stated, “God is calling, are you going to answer or let it go to voice mail?” To which Shanelle responded, “I am on my way to pick up the baby.”
On July 15, 2020, two-year-old Harmony became a permanent part of the Cook family. On June 2, 2020, Roger and Shanell became foster parents to 15-year-old Ashley. On October 1, 2020, Ashley
became a permanent member of the Cook family.
Shanell shared with me they welcomed a 7-year-old boy into their home February 22, 2022. Since beginning their journey with us, they have far exceeded their dream of six children.
I recently asked Shanell about their journey. Her first word to describe their experience was, “Wonderful.” Her next quote I will use going forward to describe our ministry. “Their trauma becomes
our trauma as we experience this journey with them. It’s not easy. It can feel risky. But it is so worth it. It has been wonderful.”
Two things that have not changed over 45 plus years. First, the need is tremendous. Over 16,000 children in North Carolina are in need of a family. Second, people are called to fill the need.
So, I say to you what Roger said to Shanell, “God is calling, are you going to answer or let it go to voice mail?” God is calling us to pray
and seek His will. God is calling us to give that others may serve. God is calling some to turn their calling into a career by becoming
houseparents, foster parents, counselors/chiefs, or other opportunities within our ministry. God is calling some of you to come alongside us to serve as volunteers.
God is calling, will you answer or will you let it go to voice mail?
I end my thoughts with you today sharing this text I received today from Shanell: “Thank you for making us a part of the BCH family! I am so blessed to be a foster parent and have my forever expanding family! While there are challenges, the blessings far outweigh the challenges! Whether it’s one hour, one day, one week, one month,
one year, every child will know what love is and know who Jesus is! That is what it is all about!”
There are many ways you can answer God’s call to care for His children through the ministry of BCH. Click the button below to learn seven ways you can make a difference. To get more involved, you can also contact me directly at 336-689-4442 or email@example.com.
Written by Brenda Gray, Executive Vice President of Development & Communications