ave you ever wished you could have a second chance? I recently played in a golf tournament in Decatur that was a fundraiser for the Children’s Homes. The tournament was sponsored by the Morgan County Association of Realtors and was hosted at a beautiful golf course. I am not very good at golf. In fact, I am pretty bad at golf. However, at the registration table for this golf outing, you could buy a “Mulligan.” The story goes that in the 1920s, a Canadian golfer named David Bernard Mulligan played golf every week with three friends. Mulligan drove the foursome to their weekly golf game in his 1922 Briscoe, a touring car. By the time he got to the golf course, his hands were numb and tingly from the vibration of the unimproved roads that led to the course. Supposedly, his first tee shot was very poor, so he teed up a second ball and explained to his friends that he was entitled to another shot due to the numbness of his hands. When his friends asked what this second chance shot was called, he responded, “A Mulligan!” When I play golf, I wish I could use Mulligans by the dozen! At the tournament I played in, Mulligans cost $20 (which went to a very good cause!). Each golfer could only buy one. Had I been able to purchase all that I needed that day, the Children’s Homes would have gotten another $400 from the tournament! But alas, these second chances were too expensive for such a poor golfer as I. Sometimes, we all need a second chance. We all need a do-over. In God’s grace, the expense of our do-overs was
paid with a very high price, the blood of His only-begotten Son. Golf tournaments can be great fun. But, I only play if I know my teammates do not take it very seriously. I suspect it would be maddening to have me on your golf foursome if you are playing to win. Life is much more serious than any game (even golf). But, in life we have the opportunity to have our scorecard completely erased by accepting the gift of God’s mercy in Christ. Grace is so much better than a Mulligan. Many of the children we serve are in desperate need of a second chance. It is my desire that each one be introduced not to David Bernard Mulligan (whose contribution to the sport of golf is epic!), but to Jesus Christ who offers so much more than a second chance at a game. My hope is that each child would experience the opportunity to know healing and wholeness through Jesus Christ. Thank you for helping us proclaim the Good News! Second Chances
Students from First Baptist Church Decatur starting with a paper clip and a highlighter to trade up for â€œbigger and betterâ€? donations for ABCH
ou may have heard of a “Disciple Now (D-Now) weekend” for a youth group in your area, or you may have even experienced one yourself. A lot goes on during one of these weekends for many churches in Alabama—Bible studies, relationship building, community service, and life change. For two churches in Birmingham and one in Decatur, they decided to expand the influence of their D-Now weekend beyond their youth groups and bless the lives of foster parents and children in our ministry.
REST FOR FOSTER PARENTS On a chilly January weekend of this year, youth from Shades Crest Baptist Church (SCBC) in Birmingham gathered in their host homes throughout the city for Bible studies. These small groups were led by young leaders in the congregation, who also served as their hosts all weekend. During each group’s free time between studies and group gatherings, they were able to choose a missions project in the community, creating a great opportunity to serve God together with their peers. For two years in a row now, one group decided to focus on ABCH foster families by providing a one-day daycare service for their missions project. Hannah Smith, a D-Now participant, says, “We provided this daycare so that the foster parents could drop the kids off and then come pick them up whenever they were done running errands or doing whatever needed to be done. We also got to do different activities and play with the kids while they were with us. We arranged crafts for them to do, books to read,
and even gave them some time to run around on a playground!” This missions project definitely made an impact on our foster families, and for that, we are so grateful! As those who serve others often find, the impact made on those who serve is just as great as the impact on those who have been served. For Hannah and for Allie Couch, who also served our families, this rings very true. One of Hannah’s favorite memories during this project comes from her experience last year at D-Now, “We had a pair of siblings in the same group [at the daycare], and while they would play with the other kids just as much as with each other, whenever one seemed to need any help at all, the other would drop what they were doing and come to assist. It really made me think and realize that these kids aren’t in the most desired situation, but they are still so protective and loving of their family and others. It really touched me.” Allie’s favorite memory is from this year’s event, “I had a special bond with one of the little girls; she never wanted to talk until I started playing with her. After that, she talked a ton! It was great to see her open up to me . . . It was an unforgettable experience. I can’t imagine a better way to serve the community than to help out some amazing foster families! They are so kind and polite, and the children are also kind and polite.”
YARD WORK FOR FAMILY CARE MOMS Also in January of this year, The Church at Brook Hills served our children and families for the second year during their D-Now events too! Last Second Chances
Left: Twelfth grade boys from Brook Hills doing yard work at our Family Care home in Gardendale Right: A student from First Baptist Church Decatur trading for “bigger and better” items year, the church sent seventh grade girls to one of our Family Care homes to pack kits for new and expectant mothers in need. This year, they sent their twelfth grade boys to serve by cleaning up the exterior of our Family Care home in Gardendale.
the families she interacts with. He believes that will stay with him and his students for a lifetime! He also says that serving together and being a part of something with an eternal impact was so special for him and his team.
Student Minister Mark Sly, says, “We “BIGGER & BETTER” DONATION EFFORTS believe that God has intentionally First Baptist Church Decatur (FBC placed us where we are to make an impact. It is obvious that God is work- Decatur) has partnered with our consistently over the ing through ABCH in our community, ministry years in other aspects, but this but also in the families in our church. year they decided to make our chilABCH was a natural partner, as our church, families, and student minis- dren and families a priority in their D-Now events! try are already serving alongside one another . . . In every instance our stu- Student Pastor Caleb Farrow says, dents were introduced to meaningful “We were planning for the D-Now ministry, whether that be the work weekend game and really felt the they participated in or the stories of Lord prompting us to move away the long-term work God is accom- from the typical scavenger hunt . . . plishing through ABCH.” so, after some prayer and research, we decided that there had to be a way Undoubtedly, one of the most speto merge the typical scavenger hunt cial moments for Mark on that day and have a bigger purpose than simwas hearing Gardendale Family ply winning a competition. We really Care House Manager and former resident, Valencia Pritchett’s, per- wanted to figure out a way to allow sonal story, ministry, and vision for our kids to represent Jesus to the city. 6
“Our student ministry intern, Drake Whitten, made the connection to get in contact with (ABCH) Vice President for Administration, Dr. Chip Colee, which eventually led us to talking to Chief Operations Officer, North Alabama, Dr. Michael Smith, about their needs here in Decatur and how we could meet some of those needs.” Through their conversations with Chip and Michael, the team came up with the idea to play a game called “Bigger and Better.” The game starts with each group having a small Students from Shades Crest Baptist object, such as a paper clip, and the Church helping to provide free daygoal is to trade that object continucare to our foster families ally to get bigger and better items, such as electronics. “We challenged the whole game through the smiles our group with thinking about things and enthusiasm everyone had as we they would like to receive and try were doing it!” to trade up to the biggest and best “It made me happy to know that we items possible that teenagers would would be able to provide some bicylove to have since the items would be donated to other teenagers and fami- cles to the children,” says Stone McCurry, also in eleventh grade. “I lies!” Caleb says. was also very happy to see how peoOne group of ninth and tenth grade ple were willing to help . . . People boys researched how many children were very willing to give to us when were in care at our home in Decatur, they found out that these items were went to a local business specializgoing to ABCH.” ing in games where groups complete Daughter of Chip Colee and team clues and puzzles together, and got leader of one of the groups during them to donate the exact number of this event, Caroline Colee, says, “It free passes so each child would have a chance to participate, which ended was very cool to be a part of helpup being several hundred dollars ing out during D-Now. We collected worth of tickets—what creativity and all kinds of things from TVs to basintentionality in their trading! ketballs, bikes, clothes, couches, and even an iPad. The neat thing about it Callie Puryear, eleventh grader, says, was the FBC Decatur students real“I thought the whole thing (Bigger and ized they weren’t just playing this Better) was really special because game to win something on a church everyone had so much fun working trip. They were gathering these together and interacting with people items for a purpose. The kids put in the community while also giving others’ needs before theirs, just as back to the Children’s Homes. You Christ would!” could really see God at work during Second Chances
auren* is a young girl in care at our Decatur campus. She came to our Campus Care home after leaving a home of drugs and abuse, and has since grown in her relationship with God and overcome her past with His great redemption! Not only is she thriving in her everyday life, but she has also overcome her circumstances by graduating a semester early from high school! Jim Harris, one of Lauren’s house parents, says, “Lauren needed a place where she could excel! She came to us scared and without direction. She came as a stranger who became family. There’s no need to look back when she was only a caterpillar, because now she is a beautiful, awesome butterfly. “Since she has been with us, she has matured into a fine, Christian young lady! She has trust and confidence that few achieve. She is an academic honor recipient, church missionary, leader in the youth, as well as at children’s church, a leader in our cottage and on campus, and has held several paid positions in our city. She needed safety, and now she’s soaring like an eagle! We are blessed to have had her in our home!” 8
like you should be treated. My favorite part about being at ABCH is probably the vacations we get to go on. I had never been on a vacation until I moved here, and I have some great memories that I never would have had if ABCH wasn’t a part of my life.
We are so proud of Lauren and can’t wait to see God’s plan continue to unfold in her life. This is her story, written in her own words . . . I came to Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes (ABCH) two days after my thirteenth birthday . . . I didn’t have any family that could take me, so I was placed at ABCH. For about two years I didn’t want to get close to anyone because I thought I was going to leave and go home. After my grandmother died, I decided that I didn’t want to go home. ABCH was the only foster home I had ever been in, so when I was offered the chance to go to court and sign papers saying I wanted to stay there and never go home, I took that chance. I decided that ABCH had become family and was the best place for me, and even though I will be moving soon due to college, ABCH will forever be family and I will always come back to visit. My experience with ABCH has been great. I have learned a lot of life skills and have also grown closer to Christ. I have learned that blood family isn’t always everything; there are people in the world who love you and treat you
I decided to graduate high school early because, like most children in foster care, I was behind and was older than everyone else in my grade. I finished in December at the age of nineteen. No one else in my family has ever been to college, and I have made one of my main goals in life to finish college and am now attending Calhoun Community College! I want to finish with a degree in special education. I decided to do this because I have worked with special needs children in school for four years and also have a special needs brother and sister, so I have been around it my entire life. Because of this, I have decided that it is something that I would love to do [as a career]. If a child was scared to leave behind everything they know to come into care, I would tell them that ABCH is one of the best things that could happen to you, if you let it impact you in a great way. You have people all around you who can help you with what you are going through; you just have to let them help you. You can always make new friends that are sometimes better than the old ones! Praise God for His faithfulness in Lauren’s life! If you would like to learn how you can be a part of providing for the needs of students like Lauren, please visit alabamachild.org/13ways!
*Name and photo has been changed to protect her identity. Second Chances
oster Care Social Worker Katie Spink is the daughter of foster parents John and Barbara Spink, who have fostered with us now for six years! Katie knew before she went to college, and even before her parents considered fostering, that she wanted to be a social worker. What she didn’t know was that her parents’ story and hers would so deeply connect. Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Katie and hear about her experience as a social worker within our ministry, her family’s experience with foster care, and how these two callings work together to become one powerful combination of wisdom from God to impact the children in our care for eternal purposes.
HER PARENTS’ CALL TO FOSTER CARE During Katie’s senior year of high school, John and Barbara started visiting new 10 Lifeprints
churches in their area. At three different churches they went to, foster care was mentioned. They saw this as no coincidence and began looking into foster care as a call on their family. “Being parents is my parents’ spiritual gift,” Katie says, “so it didn’t surprise me when they told me they were considering it. It just made sense.” By the time Katie was in her first year of college, when her parents had their second placement, one young boy came to them in a body cast. Katie admittedly had a hard time not being angry at the KATIE’S JOURNEY IN SOCIAL WORK boy’s biological mother because of the condition in which he entered their “I had an incredible childhood and am care. It was hard for her to get past the so grateful for it, but I feel that to whom devastating facts she saw in front of her, much is given, much is expected (Luke to be able to pray and love the mother 12:48). I felt God telling me that He gave who was also hurting. me a great childhood, but wanted me to fight for other children to have a great However, over a period of time, God childhood,” Katie says. softened her heart as she listened to her parents minister to the boy’s mom and listened to the boy’s mom speak of her past. Katie learned that this mom had also grown up in foster care, but in terrible home situations, unlike what her son was now blessed to have. This experience opened Katie’s eyes to the point-of-view she would need for her future career and ministry of helping, loving, and caring for the biological parents of children in her foster care cases as a social worker.
When Katie was in school pursuing her social work degree, she was able to ask her parents, based on their experiences, what attributes they wanted in their social worker. “Not everyone has that unique opportunity to ask that question before stepping on the front lines,” Katie says. As a daughter of foster parents, Katie has also experienced the loss of fostered siblings when they returned home. As a result, she is able to minister to the foster parents on her caseload in a special way because she understands firsthand how it feels to lose an everyday relationship with a child she loved.
“There’s no class I could have sat in, no textbook I could have ever read that could have taught me what she taught me, knowing her and having a relationship with her. Through my life-lens, I couldn’t understand where she was “There’s nothing you can do to make coming from, but I remember sitting your foster child leaving hurt less, no across from her and hearing her story matter if they’re going back home and and my heart being wrecked by God. it’s a good situation, or a bad one. But I knew then, to love the kids is to love what you can do is know that God is their parents,” Katie says. going to take that hurt and redeem it Second Chances 11
John, Katie, Stephen, and Barbara Spink for good. He’s always going to be there with you in the hurt, and He’s always going to take care of you and the children you may lose,” she says. It’s these unique opportunities and experiences that have shaped Katie’s outlook and work in foster care.
specifics of the cases she works on in her job, Katie is able to offer advice and help them understand more about the legal side of foster care. “My parents, like all foster parents, are giving their all to children for whom they have no say in how they’re taken care of in the long run,” Katie says, “so I’m able to offer help and encouragement on the legal side, as I can.”
As a social worker with ABCH, Katie gets to use what she learned in school as well as what she’s learned as a daughter of foster parents in her day-to-day service. She is so thankful to be able to walk this journey with her parents and to learn from it, and thankful that she, in return, can use her personal journey in social work to help support her parents’ journey.
We love having Katie on our social work team in Birmingham, and having John and Barbara serve our children and families as foster parents! It’s a blessing to see their life callings so deeply connect and to see how God has orchestrated their experiences separately so that they could use them together to further His Kingdom.
Although Katie is not allowed to know specifics of her parents’ foster care cases, just as they cannot know
For more about foster care and how you can be a part, please visit our website at alabamachild.org/fostercare.
What an amazing year! Below are just a few highlights of what the Lord did in our ministry in 2016. This information and more can be found in our newly released Annual Report by visiting alabamachild.org/annualreport16. NEARLY
(PRAISE THE LORD!)
2016 TOTAL SERVED:
Pathways Professional Counseling: 4,066
Foster Care: 294
Family Care (Mothers, Dependent Children): 49
Campus & Shelter Care: 170
Help to children when one or both parents die: 82
Family Aid: 274
College Care & Independent Living: 10
Second Chances 13
Over the next few issues of Lifeprints, we’re featuring Campus Spotlights to focus on one of our campuses, offering real time news and happenings in each area. In this issue’s Campus Spotlight, we are happy to share with you stories, updates, and other news from our Oxford campus!
Lives Changed WE CARED FOR WE CARED FOR
47children children 61
THROUGH SHELTER CARE THROUGH & FOSTERCAMPUS CARE SOCARE FAR &THIS FOSTER YEARCARE IN 2016
2 children children 25children
IN FOSTER CARE ACCEPTED CHRIST IN 2016
ARE ON THE HONOR ROLL AT THEIR SCHOOL THIS SEMESTER
IN CAMPUS CARE WERE BAPTIZED THIS MONTH
MADE A PROFESSION OF FAITH ON EASTER SUNDAY
AFTER DROPPING OUT OF SCHOOL PRIOR TO COMING INTO OUR CARE, HAS RE-ENROLLED THROUGH A CREDIT RECOVERY PROGRAM AND IS BACK ON TRACK TO GRADUATE WITH HER PEERS
Ways to Pray
Pray for the children who are in our care. Many have endured great trauma and pain in their short lives. Please pray for our foster parents and house parents as they minister to the children in their care. Please pray for our social workers as they provide support to our foster families and a voice for children. 14 Lifeprints
S helter Care
All of the churches in the Cherokee Baptist Association collected and donated 15,800 pounds of canned goods— that’s 4,600 more than last year!
The Friendship House was gifted a donation to take the children in our care on various outings. Over Spring Break, we took them on a train trip from Anniston to Birmingham. Once we got to Birmingham, we played at a park, ate dinner from a local taco truck, and took in the sights of the big city! This was the first train ride that these children had ever taken. Many of the children in our care experience many “firsts” while with us! Courtney Wade is one of our social workers in Oxord. “One thing I love about ABCH is the support, encouragement, love, and grace I’m shown daily from others within this agency,” Courtney shared. “It’s a wonderful feeling to know you’re surrounded by like-minded people who share Christ’s love with you. To know they’re showing Christ’s love to our children is icing on the cake.”
We need items for our kitchen, including dish towels and rags, a large Crock-Pot, a food processor, and gift cards to Walmart or Aldi to offset grocery costs and allow us to get fresh produce, fruits, and meats.
We’re also in need of exterior home help, including a patio set with an umbrella. We could also use a missions group to help cut down some tree limbs at our Family Care home. The house could also use some new landscaping as well. Car Seats are also an urgent need for our campus. We need NEW car seats. Either the carrier style for infants or the convertible styles are preferred. Second Chances 15
Alabama Baptist Childrenâ€™s Homes & Family Ministries P.O. Box 361767 Birmingham, AL 35236-1767
PERMIT #2036 BIRMINGHAM
NON-PROFIT US POSTAGE
Camp of Champions is our annual summer camp experience at Shocco Springs in Talladega, Alabama, designed to serve our campuses and foster families and their children. And while parents are in training, kids at our Camp are getting the opportunity to just be kids and have fun! More importantly, though, children are hearing and experiencing the gospel . . . some maybe for the very first time.
Published on Jun 16, 2017