Updated: Sep 29
One of my favorite job responsibilities is sharing stories. I have the privilege of producing them for the printed page as well as videos for screens of all sizes. Remarkably, God can be found at the center of every story. There’s a reason why this is true: I am simply the one sharing the story, but it’s God who is the author.
For the 14 years I have served as Director of Communications for Baptist Children’s Homes (21 total years with the ministry), I always tell others that my title is a more formal way of saying that I am a storyteller. More specifically, I share the real-life stories of how God is working in the lives of the children—and all those we serve—at Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH).
There are also times when the behind the scenes planning and preparation for the story is almost as remarkable. In producing this year’s BCH Annual Offering video, featuring a NC foster care child named Tirrell and his BCH foster parents John and Erin Stuebe, I found myself becoming less and less of that person with a formal job title and more of a witness to how God was orchestrating every aspect of the process.
Planning for the Annual Offering, which coincides with the Week of Prayer in November, begins early each year. Putting together a feature story that includes videos, articles and creating an assortment of print resources churches use to collect a BCH offering is a major undertaking. The project begins with identifying a story.
While there are many successes happening throughout BCH’s many ministries, there are only a few that can be publicized. The majority of the children we serve come from situations where privacy is essential for their safety and well-being. Boys and girls we serve from the NC foster care system almost never appear in our print or digital platforms. It’s why planning early is a must.
Normally by March, the story is chosen. The plan is underway. Except this year, it wasn’t. Weeks went by as several promising opportunities ended up not working out. When a door shuts, I trust God is the one who shut it. That is until the calendar was nearing May. My trust was quickly turning into stress. I began to question whether I was failing in the responsibilities that came along with my formal job title. However, the reminder came back to me: I am simply the one sharing the story, but it’s God who is the author.
When God is writing a masterpiece, each element of the story being crafted falls into place in His perfect timing. For this year’s Annual Offering story, that timing was the at the end of April. After working closely with BCH’s Chris Allabaugh and Jessie Chilson, who first shared with me 13-year-old Tirrell’s story, a video call with his foster family was scheduled.
On that call, Kourtney Dye, who works on the Communications Team, and I spoke with John and Erin Stuebe who had been Tirrell’s family for a little more than a year. As they described the passion God placed in their hearts for becoming foster parents through our EVERY CHILD initiative, BCH’s foster and adopt partnership with NC Baptists, all questions regarding the wait for this year’s story vanished. Throughout the hour-plus conversation, we heard repeated instances of how God made his presence known throughout Tirrell’s story—the story of a boy who lived isolated in his childhood home, was never allowed to go to school and fed only rice.
Today, Tirrell is growing and thriving with Erin and John who will soon adopt him. God is not only at the center of Tirrell’s story, He is at the center of Tirrell’s heart—the young teen accepted Christ as Savior on June 16. If the planning process for this year’s Offering had gone according to my timetable, pages of Tirrell’s story would have been incomplete; God was not done writing.
Fast forward to now. The video is done and completed on schedule—all in God the author’s perfect timing. And as usual, I am thankful to be the one whose role is to simply share it.
*Three new videos featuring Tirrell’s story are available to be shared. We invite you to share his inspiring story with your church!
Written by Blake Ragsdale, BCH Director of Communications