A Huge Difference
by Angela Sanders, Freelance Writer
“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you’.” Isaiah 41:13
Shy, but willing to speak the truth if it will help someone else, fourteen-year-old Chayton has found peace and much needed perspective during her stay at Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children (OBHC). Her journey of self-discovery may not have been a comfortable one, but she has learned to express herself using a variety of mediums, including her voice.
“I’m good at art and painting,” she says quietly. “I do a lot of mixed media, like colored pencils with markers, and if I paint, I also use oil pastels.” Chayton does well in school. “I like history and science because I can study whatever I want—the galaxy, the sun and moon—and just enjoy how everything looks. Geometry is good because no matter what shape you use, it all still comes out the same.”
When Chayton grows up, she would like to be a cosmetologist. “I know that probably sounds weird, but I just like doing hair and nails,” Chayton says, smiling now, “mainly hair. There are so many things you can do with color. I like to practice on my roommate. I braid her hair sometimes, but she’s a new roommate, so I haven’t gotten to really experiment on her yet.” Chayton giggles and hugs her knee.
Chayton has lived at OBHC for a year and a half. “I came here because I lied a lot, and I stole things,” Chayton admits. “I was living with my aunt, but I had lived with my grandparents for a couple of years before. I knew if I kept doing those things something was eventually going to happen.”
“It took me a while to realize I needed to be here,” Chayton recounts, tears forming. “It was a struggle for a while. I have struggled with a lot of things, but that was my biggest struggle ever. My houseparents helped me through it.” Chayton wipes her eyes with her sleeve. “We’re good now, though. This June, I’ll be living with my grandma again.”
Chayton is grateful for her houseparents, the VanCampens. “They’re like my second family,” she says, calming. “They’ve really helped me communicate. They treat us all with respect, and they are always there when we need them – even if we don’t realize we do. They help us spiritually, too. They taught me God is there for me even when I don’t see it. I grew up in church, but never got that concept until I came here, and they were able to answer my questions.”
Chayton accepted Christ as her Savior at Falls Creek youth camp last summer. “It’s made a big difference,” Chayton says. “The way I think about things is different now. Like, if someone has something wrong with them, I understand what they are going through. I know how to handle it better. God helps me know what to say.”
Chayton’s stay at OBHC has given her confidence in the future. “I have changed,” she says. “I’ve matured. I know how to own up to my mistakes now and how to change. If I hadn’t come here, I would have been in a bad place, but now I can see myself going to college and getting a good job, doing everything I can think of that makes life better for people.”
When asked what she would say to OBHC donors if given the chance, Chayton is overcome with emotion once again. “Thank you.” After a long pause, she whispers through flowing tears, “I know there were probably times you didn’t want to help, or it was hard to help. I know you could use your money for other things, but you didn’t. You gave it to us anyway, and it has made a big difference – a huge difference to me.”