Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children


Thankfulness in Action: Justin’s Story

Story by OBHC Communications Team
First published: OBHC Blog | May 1, 2014

Anger and violence paved the road for Justin to come to live with Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children as a teenager. However, it was love and thankfulness that led him back to us years later.

Justin with horse
Little sister was upset. Stepmom was upset. Father and son were as similar as could be, including their shared difficulty controlling their tempers. At Justin’s house, arguments with his father would escalate into fights that often became violent.

One night, a fight between the two catalyzed the decision for Justin to move to BRT.

Before coming to BRT, Justin thought discipline meant anger and violence. However, living with houseparents, Steve and Dee Riley, Justin experienced a new kind of discipline. He recognized they would be stern with him, but it was a loving sternness. This was different than what Justin was used to.

The summer before his freshman year in high school, Justin went to camp at Falls Creek with several other boys in his cottage. He had gone to Falls Creek with his church from home, but the week had never meant anything to him. This week was different. During the evening service, Justin realized he was not living his life as he should be. Justin decided that night he wanted to rededicate his life to Christ. He wanted to live his life differently.

About two years after moving to BRT, Justin began the transition of moving back home, starting with extended visits home the summer before his junior year. His dad had come to know Christ while Justin was living at BRT, and Justin noticed a change in his dad. They both still struggled with their tempers, and the relationship would still not be perfect.

Nevertheless, they felt like Justin’s time at BRT had helped them learn how to live with one another.

High school graduation came and went. Justin was working at a ranch in Guthrie, and was anxious to marry, Jennifer, his high school sweetheart. He knew he needed to find a place for them to live, but he didn’t have much money.

He knew where to turn.

Justin called BRT administrator, Brent Thackerson. Brent was happy to hear from Justin. He said they could stay in a small house on OBHC property in exchange for taking care of the property.

After a short time, Justin lost his job due to company cutbacks. He called Brent and asked if there is was any kind of work he could do there. He was willing to do anything to take care of his new wife. Justin went to meet with Brent. Brent told him about a job opening and asked Justin if he would seriously pray about the decision with Jennifer. Brent did not want Justin to take the decision to come work at BRT lightly.

Justin started to leave the office and looked down at the paperwork Brent had given him. He saw that the job was for a horse program director. Justin went back into the office.

“Brent, I think you gave me the wrong paperwork,” Justin said with a confused look.

Brent smiled and told Justin he had the right paperwork.

Justin went home and prayed with Jennifer about the job. Looking at the requirements for the position, both agreed that the job would change how they were living.

“Maybe this is God’s way of getting our attention,” Jennifer told Justin. “Maybe you are supposed to have the job.”

Justin accepted the position and began work in April of 2009.

BRT Rodeo - riders showing respect Justin met with the boys participating in the horse program several days a week. Among other things, he taught the boys about the parts of the horse, how to take care of the animal and how to ride. Justin also did several big events with the boys, such as the Annual BRT Rodeo.

The boys enjoyed spending time with Justin and looked up to him. Justin had an “open door policy” at his home. If the boys in the program ever needed to talk with Justin, he told them to “come knock and we’ll talk.”

God led Justin to other employment in August of 2013, but Justin and Jennifer knew God had placed them at BRT to show Christ’s love to the boys.

“You know, I’ve been where the boys are,” Justin says. “I’ve come in and felt how awkward it was and had to go through the adjustment. My story is not the same as all of theirs, but I could help the boys.”

God used Justin’s history as a unique connection with the boys to give them hope and make a difference in their lives.

Justin showed his thankfulness to God and OBHC by helping boys who are going through the same challenges he faced as a teenager.

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