Jesus appears to the disciples in the boat in the midst of the storm. And as he comes to them walking across the water, he speaks these words: “Take heart; It is I. Do not be afraid.”
Did you know it is estimated there are 117 variations of “do not be afraid” in the Bible? Throughout His word, He reminds us we are not alone. He reminds us to take heart, take courage, He is the living God. He is with us. God is the great “I” of the storm. Just as He was there for His disciples, Jesus has been here for Baptist Children’s Homes in the midst of our stormy season. It has been a difficult season, but throughout, we have remained steadfast focused on the great “I” of the storm as He reminded us to take heart, to take courage, and rest in the fact He was with us.
I am filled with gratitude for God’s presence in our lives. One of the ways He has walked with us is through you—our wonderful BCH family. We are so grateful for your faithful encouragement and support during this time and we celebrate all that God has done and is doing in the midst of the storm. Storms are something we are quite familiar with in our ministry. Every child that walks through our doors have been through some kind of storm. I am so grateful for the opportunity to speak truth into their lives, reminding them of God’s message in the midst of the storm— “Take Heart”
I recently returned from a speaking engagement and was settling in for what would become a “short” Sunday afternoon nap when the phone rang. “Hey, Ms. Brenda. I sure miss you.” It was the sweet voice of Patricia. She grew up at Broyhill Home in Clyde. Patricia’s life had been full of storms. She and I chatted for a few minutes
and then the conversation became serious. She asked me to pray for her. She shared that her MS was worse and that she was going to have heart surgery—and that Jim’s (her husband) cancer was back. When Patricia awoke from her last heart surgery, which there have been many, Ms. Linda (her former houseparent) was there holding her hand. For many of the children in care, we become family for life.
“Ms. Brenda, I do not know where I would be if it were not for Baptist Children’s Homes,” Patricia said. “My parents gave me life, but BCH saved my life. I hope to come see you soon.”
We spent a time in prayer. She told me that she loved me and I assured her that I loved her and would also be praying for Jim. After I hung up the phone, I began to think about Patricia’s life, the storms, but also the victory she has experienced. She has truly learned what it means to “Take Heart” and trust God. I am so thankful for the many opportunities God gives us to care for the “Patricia’s” of this world.
Like many of the children who walk through our doors, Patricia’s childhood was a very scary time—full of fear. One day, her fears became reality when she heard dishes break and doors slam. Her mom and dad were in a vicious fight. Patricia walked into the room to see her mother holding a gun. Her father saw Patricia enter the room, grabbed her and put her in between him and the barrel of the pistol.
Her life seemed like a nightmare she could not wake up from. Before coming to live at BCH, she and her sisters had no stability. There were times when they had no lights, no running water, and Patricia slept on hard floors with only a pillowcase. She remembers a Christmas when her family was living on the streets in a shelter. A church provided them with Christmas gifts which her parents sold to buy drugs.
As a teenager, medical test revealed a dark spot on her brain. There was fear of cancer, but the doctors attributed the mark to a possible childhood injury. Today, Patricia suffers from multiple medical issues many of which are due to the severe abuse and neglect she experienced as a child.
Through the ministry of BCH, Patricia was introduced to God and His unconditional love. She accepted Christ as her personal Savior and was no longer in the storm alone. She was able to “Take Heart” in knowing God was with her.
Today, Patricia is an amazing young lady who loves the Lord with all her heart. She will not be stopped by the storms. Patricia loves to tell people “We serve an amazing God who has taken a girl the world said wouldn’t make it and brought her to a place of faith, hope, and love.” Patricia believes that the difficult situations she has experienced in her life can be used by God to help others.
So many Patricia’s walk through our doors. We are grateful to God for the many people that are a part of their lives—people who have wiped away tears of fear, people who have been listening ears, people who have been prayer warriors. You who have supported us in so many ways.
Storms will come and go in the lives of our ministry and those we serve. We hold on to the promise we are not in the boat alone. “Take heart; It is I. Do not be afraid.”
We are so blessed to have a $300,000 year-end matching gift challenge. Consider gifts of cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, life insurance, a qualified charitable distribution from an IRA, a vehicle, or/and a gift from your donor advised fund. There are so many ways you can make a difference in the life of a child like Patricia. National trends show that giving was down last year and projected to be down this year.
National trends also show that needs are greater than ever. This presents a potential storm. These are challenging times. But we are reminded, we are not in the boat alone. Your gift is vital! Consider giving a little extra for those who wish they could give but cannot this year. Thank you in advance for your gift to help calm the storm for a child or family in need. I leave you with Patricia’s powerful words, “My parents gave me life, but Baptist Children’s Homes saved my life.” Thank you, most of all, for introducing Patricia to Jesus, the one who truly Saves!
NOTE: Through the Matching Gift Challenge, your gift is doubled between October 1, 2023 to January 31, 2024. Your investment in children's lives is matched dollar for dollar making twice the impact.
Written by Brenda Gray, Executive Vice President, Development & Communications