Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

 

Standing Strong: Shamica Lewis

Story by Angela Sanders
First published: OBHC Blog | March 3, 2016

ShamicaTwenty-four-year-old Shamica Lewis is a survivor with a protective instinct that runs as deep as her love for Jesus and as wide as the gratitude she feels for every adult that played a part in her physical rescue and spiritual development. A graduate student at the University of Oklahoma, Shamica is working toward a master’s degree in social work. When she graduates, she hopes to work somewhere like OBHC.

“Eventually, I’d like to open up my own agency,” Shamica shares, “one that works with adults 18 to 25 who are homeless. Lots of times, those are people fresh out of DHS custody with nowhere to go. People just get dumped out of that system. If they don’t have any family, they get lost. I want to set them up with a job and tell them about God’s love for them. I could help get them into trade schools, whatever, so they can stop depending on others, take care of themselves, and go out and be their own person.”

“I guess I want to do social work because of the DHS worker that I had when I was removed from my home,” Shamica says thoughtfully. “I was wanting to leave, needing to leave, and she was the only one who heard and understood and fought for that for me. I want to be that to someone else someday because it’s hard for a kid to say, ‘Hey, I don’t want to be here. Take me out of here.’ There’s always an adult that wants to keep them there even though it’s a horrible situation. Someone has to be able to listen and understand what kids are really trying to say to them. That’s what this lady did for me.”

Shamica, one in a sibling group of six, was adopted at the age of seven along with her brothers and sisters. It was a bad situation from the start, but circumstances deteriorated rapidly when her adoptive mother began using drugs.

“By the time I was in middle school,” Shamica relates, “there wasn’t any food in the house, and it was terrible. She was hurting us. From the classes I’m taking now, I realize that she was probably hallucinating.

Unwilling to watch her siblings suffer, Shamica stepped up and took most of the abuse.

It wears you out after a while. We were just surviving. We weren’t in a position to defend ourselves, really.” Shamica pauses to reflect. “You know, when you’re a kid, you don’t want to betray the person that you consider to be your parent, no matter how bad it is.”

After a particularly intense encounter with her mother, Shamica, who was 15 at the time, knew something had to be done and asked one of her older sisters who had already moved out to call the authorities. As they had many times before, the authorities showed up to investigate.

“I met the lady at the door and tried to tell her about my mom before my mom came in because she always made it look like everything was good. I only got a few seconds alone with her. I kept looking at the lady hoping that my mom would act up while she was there,” Shamica explains. “It was a miracle. Mom got mad at me while the lady was there and kind of lost it. I could tell the lady heard me and believed me. She didn’t let my mom know that and just kept it cool.” A few days later, the police came to investigate. Knowing that they wouldn’t remove Shamica and her siblings without grounds for doing so, Shamica had hidden her mother’s drug paraphernalia to show the police when they got there.

Shamica and her siblings were promptly removed from the home and taken to a shelter where they were befriended by a woman who suggested they ask about “this place with lots of little houses and animals, a place where siblings could stay together.”

Shamica followed up on the vague lead and found OBHC. Physically free, but still suffering from all they had endured, Shamica and her siblings were welcomed with open arms by every OBHC adult. Still, the transition was difficult. “I wanted to be here, but it was crazy weird at first,” Shamica admits.

“We didn’t even eat at our house, and these people ate together and had to sit at the table together. I didn’t like it at first, but I do now. Some of the girls were like, ‘Would you do my hair?’” Shamica raises her eyebrows in comical fashion. “I didn’t know how to do that, but I tried. I knew the grownups were Christians, but that was really scary to me because my mom and her family used to say they were Christians, too.

“We started going to Bible study groups and church, and I got involved with the students there. I heard that Jesus died for us, and I was like, ‘For what?’ I just didn’t understand it. Still, these people were living different lives for some reason, and I wanted to know why. I just kept learning and thinking about it. Finally, I realized that I could keep living like Jesus didn’t die for me and keep doing my own thing or believe Him and follow Him. I had to decide. I asked my roommate about it, and she prayed with me to become a Christian. I really felt like God removed the blinders from my eyes. You know how the Bible talks about the scales falling? That’s what it was like for me. I saw sin for what it really was and love for what it really was. I had this idea of what parents are supposed to be like, but God’s love is even better than that.

“You know, I remember being little and thinking that God couldn’t possibly want me to be in this family and be beaten and starved like that. I prayed and asked Him, ‘God, if you’re real, why am I here?’ Coming to OBHC gave me a chance much later to answer that question. I know now that I’m here on this earth to know and love Him.”

Unable to keep emotion in check any longer, Shamica pauses for a moment. “Man, when I realize what He’s brought my family through and all the things that could have happened! He didn’t leave me, not even when I was a little girl six years old, sitting in the closet crying. He never left me.”

The respect and admiration that Shamica feels for her houseparents and the other adults at OBHC is evident in her expression when she speaks of them.

“We did devotionals every morning, and I felt like we were in church more than we were in school.” Shamica chuckles as she wipes away tears. “I grew by building relationships with them and watching what they did. I love them a lot. My houseparents were the true definition of what godly parents look like. I had never seen a man and woman married with all these kids and happy in the controlled chaos. They taught me how to be a godly woman and how to treat and raise your kids. They taught me how to live biblically and the importance of family and having people around you that are there for you. God’s here, but not tangibly. To see Him in other people like them is crazy. I want to give that to my own kids someday.”

“God has really given me the desire for Him, to read His Word daily, to pray and to just seriously seek Him. I don’t even know what I would be doing right now if it weren’t for His grace and continuous love. I’m really willing to be whatever and wherever He wants me to be. He could put me on an island somewhere and I would go…to the ends of the earth, if I had to.” Shamica smiles. “Thanks to OBHC, I’m ready. They really are my family, and I absolutely adore them! I’m grateful because, without them, I wouldn’t know the Lord.


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