Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children


Plant a Tree, Grow a Man

By Janet Anderson, BRT Staff

During a recent worship service, James Raffety, a housefather at Boys Ranch Town (BRT), realized that God was speaking to him about producing a visual anchor to encourage a boy in his cottage. Shane Sellers would soon graduate high school and leave BRT to begin his adult life, and James wanted to encourage Shane to face his new changes with courage and faith. James was inspired by a story in the Biblical book of Joshua.

Chapter 4 reads: “When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan,…and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.….In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”  Joshua 4:1-7 (NIV)

Shane came to BRT three years ago, after his freshman year of high school. While here, he came to know the Lord. He learned trust, the value of hard work, and the need to be a strong man for the Lord. His graduation was both a celebration and a transition to adulthood. As a reminder of all that Shane learned during his time at BRT, the boys in his cottage planted a tree in his honor.

Shane's graduation partyShane's graduation celebration at Boys Ranch Town.

The tree will stand as a reminder to all boys who live at BRT in the future that a boy named Shane lived here, grew into manhood here, and took all that he learned out into the world to become the man that God made him to be. The tree grows in the yard of Kimbler Cottage, the cottage where Shane lived during his time here. Everyone in the household took turns digging the hole for the young tree. James and Kathy Raffety chose a tree representative of his future – an Autumn Blaze Maple – that will burst forth in a blaze of orange glory each autumn. Shane plans to attend Oklahoma State University in the fall and study veterinary medicine. Its bright orange leaves will remind everyone of Shane’s success. The tree will be a symbol of all that God has done and a reminder of the crossing Shane has made from boyhood to manhood.

The other boys from the cottage have asked if they will receive a tree when it is their turn to graduate. Shane’s close friend, Josh, has already asked if his tree can be planted next to Shane’s tree. Josh plans to attend OU after high school. So, as Josh’s tree grows beside Shane’s, they will continue their friendly rivalry of red and orange.

Houseparents know they can never take the place of a boy’s parents, but they love, guide, and hope for each boy in the same way they would their own child. As a result, the boys learn to trust these surrogates, even with their lives. Shane had an asthma attack on his way home from school one day this spring. Even during those tense moments without enough breath, he had the presence of mind and trust to pull his car over and call Mr. Raffety. Shane is very good at handling his responsibilities, but he knew he needed a little extra help that day.

Just as Mr. Raffety was there for Shane that day, Boys Ranch Town will continue to be here for him. When Shane returns for a visit, he will be reminded of the days he lived here, put down some roots and grew into a capable, caring Christian young man.

June, 2015

Go to top of page

Your gifts help provide hope to children and families.