A New Hunger

by Angela Sanders, Freelance Writer

“But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness…” Matthew 6:33

Sometimes, the most loving thing a parent can do is let their child go for a little while so they can get the help they need. This is the very difficult choice Keith’s stepfather made, and Keith is glad he had the strength to make this decision.

“I love it here at OBHC,” Keith begins, all smiles. “I had the chance to go home after seventh grade because I was doing so well, but I turned it down and chose to stay through eighth grade so I could learn more about God. My mom had me when she was sixteen, and then when I was a little boy, my dad left us—I was hungry a lot. It got bad enough that I had to look for food in the trash sometimes. That kind of thing just stays with you. It’s hard to get over, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. It made me really angry, and I didn’t really listen to anyone. I wasn’t honest with people.”

“My stepdad knows one of the campus administrators at OBHC. He thought it would be good for me. I knew I needed help and wanted to make my stepdad happy so I said I’d come, and I’m glad I did because I got saved. Being saved helped me realize my past doesn’t define me; it’s what I do with God in the future. I feel different, too. I know I’ll continue to make mistakes, but I also know God loves me and I can repent of those mistakes and do better with God’s help. I’m also not the class clown anymore. Before, I was bad in class and made things hard, but now, if people call me out, I think about what they’re saying and how I’m affecting people and stop when I should.”

Of all the activities Keith is involved in, church is his favorite. “They have all kinds of fun stuff for us,” Keith says. “We get to play pool and basketball, and they give us hot chocolate and a free meal on Wednesdays. We get time to burn off our energy before Bible study, so that’s really good. Mostly, though, our pastor is really good, and they give us notes with blank lines that we can fill in while he’s talking. It makes you want to listen to what he’s saying.”

Learning comes easily to Keith, so it’s no wonder he’s set lofty professional goals for his own future. “I want to be a pediatrician. I really like babies, and they like me, probably because I’ve been around them a lot. If I can’t quite make it there, I’ll be a veterinarian because I like animals, too, specifically dogs. If those things don’t work out, I definitely want to be an English teacher. That would be a lot of fun.”

Keith with dog

For now, Keith is learning at school and from the two sets of houseparents between whom he splits time. The Ingrahams and the Strongs. “Mr. and Mrs. Ingraham are both really nice and always try to help me with my homework,” Keith says. “Usually they just have to tell me to slow down. They really do care about every one of us. Mrs. Ingraham’s cooking is sooooo good, and Mr. Ingraham does devotionals with us. I also really like the Strongs. They always put Wheel of Fortune on, and I love it when Mrs. Strong makes her mac and cheese. It’s just….well, it’s amazing! They take us to get snowcones out of the blue sometimes in the summer just to be nice. Both of their cottages have chess boards, and I’m into chess.”

So far, Keith has learned much from all four houseparents and hopes to be like them when he’s older. “They’re all believers,” Keith explains. “They are living like Christians. They know a lot, and they always seem to be right.” Keith throws his head back and laughs. “Ooooh, I would really like to be right for once. That would be great!”

Keith hopes to have a family of his own someday and feels certain the lessons he’s learned at OBHC will help him be a better husband and dad than he might have been otherwise. “I know that a man should be good to his wife and treat her well because she’s really important. That’s why God made Eve, because women are important. God told them both to be kind to each other. I just want her to be herself and be happy, and I’ll be happy if I can just love and take care of her.”

To those whose financial gifts have provided Keith with the spiritual education he’s receiving at OBHC, he offers his enthusiastic thanks. “This is a really good thing you have going on here. When children come here, they get to know God and do lots of fun stuff. You can be happy while you learn right from wrong. This place is golden.”