Sitting on my porch in the evening brings me great joy as I gaze on the stars and the moon –– watching the lightning bugs sparkle in the darkness beneath the oaks. It is amazing to watch the world light up around me.
On one such night, Riley and Luna (my pups) became restless and let me know not all was well. I tensed and then I heard sounds in the distance. Suddenly the sky lit up with beautiful colors and shapes while the sounds of fireworks echoed across the mountains. It was beautiful. All around me people were celebrating July Fourth. I watched the beautiful light show and celebrated, too.
This month, we celebrate the day that marks our beginning as an independent nation. We celebrate and honor the courage of our forefathers who had such great vision, who desired freedom.
I reflect on this night and the beauty of the fireworks and I am reminded of another night when the sky was bright with color. It was not the color displayed by fireworks. It was the color displayed by war as our flag continued to fly, being held high. It was a night when light pierced the darkness to show that “our flag was still there.” On this occasion, the national anthem was penned. When we lift our voices to sing, we remember and honor those who died for freedom.
This July Fourth as we lift the flag, with hand upon our hearts, let us remember the risk, the struggles and the price paid for our freedom, yesterday, today and tomorrow.
At Baptist Children’s Homes, we are blessed to watch as those who we provide care experience freedom. It is quite different from when they first arrive. They come from places where they are bound by fear, abuse, hunger, drugs, pain of abandonment, grief from loss, hopelessness, and sleepless nights.
Out of the night’s darkness came a call for help. Two children ages four and six were found living inside a car in a junkyard. They had gone unnoticed for a couple of months. The father had been getting food from the local dumpster. He had lost his job due to drug abuse and they had lost their house. With no where to go, he set up shelter for his family in the car. Someone noticed the children and the Department of Social Services (DSS) was called.
The children were placed in our care within hours of being found. They were frazzled and dirty. The soles of the shoes the little girl wore stuck to her feet. The boy wore old pajamas two sizes too small and his shoes were ragged and torn. They were greeted in the cottage with open arms. They were bathed, fed and clothed.
When their father came to visit for the first time, the boy looked at his dad and said, “I found a home, Daddy. I hope you find one, too.”
The words shocked the father and in a short time he began the task of reuniting his family. Two years passed before he was self-sufficient and had good, safe housing. The children happily returned to be with their father.
You brought light into their dark world.
Darkness invaded the lives of five siblings. The call came in the early hours of the morning: “We have a sibling group. Can you help?”
We immediately received the children into a cottage. They had no clothes except the clothes they were wearing and were hungry. They lived at risk with a parent. Once settled into our care, they began to ask questions: “Do we eat every day? Is this my bed for tomorrow, too? Is this my bathroom? Will we get clothes for school? Do you have shoes that will would fit me?”
The child’s shoes were way too small for his feet and worn beyond use. His questions were heartbreaking, but the cottage mom answered each one with a loving, “Yes.”
Two weeks passed and the children returned to the parent –– which was a decision we all questioned. One week later, the parent was arrested for cooking meth in their home. DSS contacted us and asked if they could bring the children back. When they arrived on campus the siblings cheered. They were happy to be back in a safe place. The cottage parents received them with open arms and caring hearts. The children could not wait to return to their rooms. Clothing had to be bought again –– but God provided. These children have hope and a future because of you.
You brought light into their dark world.
The night is dark. The sights and sounds are scary. The children know all is not well with the night. But then the light pierces the darkness.
Each and every day, I am reminded how you want these children to experience freedom. I am reminded how each of you help bring light into their dark places –– a light that pierces the darkness, the light of Jesus.
As you celebrate this July Fourth with fireworks that pierce the darkness of the night’s sky, remember all the days of freedom you made possible for children and families through your prayers and support.
For more information on how you can help, call Brenda Gray at 336-689-4442 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Worthwhile Investments is written by Brenda B. Gray, Executive Vice President of Development & Communications