Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

James Browning

stories from the book
by James V. Browning

I Met Jesus There

Rebecca (Roberts) Pavey

My story is one of God giving a young girl a hope and a future, and even some of her own heart's desires. God took me—a very insecure and sad little girl and made something very beautiful of my life.

At the age of 14, I went to live at the Baptist Children’s Home in Owasso. My father had left my mother and me when I was 11, and my mother was very difficult to live with. Growing up in a home where parents did not love each other made me very sad. I used to wish I had a family who loved each other, who did not argue or fight, one that was full of love, maybe even one with younger brothers and sisters. When I went to live at the Children’s Home, I found a family like that. And the love in the Home was Christ.

Mike and Burletta Teel were my houseparents at the Children’s Home. This couple had a dramatic influence on my life. I saw Christ in their lives. I saw the joy of the Lord in their family. They had a daughter named Wendy and a son named Dusty. They became friends of mine. Mike and Burletta were very instrumental in improving my low self-esteem. My mother (I believe in her anger toward my dad for leaving) would tell me hurtful things growing up—she would say, “You’re stupid like your father, you might as well drop out of school.” I flunked the 9th grade the last year I lived with her. School was just not a priority. My daddy had left, my mother was very angry; there was no motivation to excel. When I went to the Children’s Home, Mr. and Mrs. Teel helped me with my schoolwork, and the Home also provided tutors. In Owasso, I was repeating the ninth grade and my grades went from D’s and F’s (while living with Mother) to A’s, B’s and a few C’s.

At the Children’s Home, everyone was required to attend church three times a week - Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday night. It was through the Home’s rule of church three times a week and examples of God’s love through my houseparents that I came to know the Lord as my personal Savior. God had been knocking on my heart’s door for at least a year before I came to Owasso. Jesus wanted to come into my life and give me a hope and a future. I needed someone to love me, really love me. I needed Jesus.

Right before I came to the Home, I had met a wonderful Christian family—the Crains, Bruce and Joanne. They had two children, Jake, 5, and Sarah, 3. They would write letters to me and call me to encourage me. I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with them. They lived in Enid. Joanne had a younger sister, Laura Lynn, who was my age, and we became good friends. She wrote me one day and added the scripture verse, Psalms 27:10, which says, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” That scripture was the beginning of my seeing that although I did not have a mother or a father—I needed God the Father!

In October, 1986, I went to a Dallas Holms Christian concert with the church youth group. Wendy Teel, my houseparents’ daughter, was standing next to me. During the altar call, I grabbed her hand and I went forward to accept Christ. That night, it was as though I could hear God saying, “Rebecca, won’t you trust me? I love you; I want to change your life and give you a hope and a future.” Wendy prayed with me and I was baptized October 19, 1986. Jesus did change my life and certainly did give me a hope and a future!

Life was not always easy from that point on—I still had struggles. My mother would come and visit me. She did not understand my salvation experience, which caused me a lot of hurt. We would go to counseling and she would say she didn’t believe I was a Christian because I did not forgive her. But what she never understood was that I had forgiven her, I just couldn’t live with her. I would always come home to Owasso in tears after visiting my mother. Mr. and Mrs. Teel would comfort and encourage me. They taught me I was lovable, beautiful and smart. Those were attributes I did not know I had. My mother would actually tell me that I was stupid and ugly—this did not make me feel lovable at all. But through the Teels and through Christ, I learned that that was not true.

I made friends in the Children’s Home, and outside the Home—at school. My classmates knew I lived at the Home, but they never treated me any differently. I rode the school bus and the other kids saw where I lived, but never once did anyone ever tease me, for which I am grateful.

As a new Christian, I needed a Bible of my very own. On one of my visits to the Crain family in Enid, Joanne gave me a brand new Bible. This was very soon after I had accepted Christ, so of course, I was very excited. She, Bruce, Jake and Sarah wrote a sweet note on the inside. The Crains were becoming very special to me. I read my Bible every day on the bus to and from school. I wanted to learn all about the person God wanted me to become.

At Christmas time, the Home was very special. I was on an “Angel Tree” and someone picked my name! I will never forget my gifts—a beautiful teal sweater, a black turtleneck and a silver heart pendant necklace. It was special to me that there was a family out there who did not know me, but who would be so generous to me! I spent Christmas Eve with the Crains. It was very meaningful to be included in their family celebration. As you read earlier in my story, I used to wish for a family full of love with little brothers and sisters—the Crains became that childhood wish for me! Sadly, it became apparent I could never return to live with my mother. And although the Home was wonderful to me, I needed a real home, a mom and a dad—a family. At Christmas I began praying that I could go to live with the Crains and in February of 1987, they asked me if I would like to be their daughter. Of course, I said yes!

I finished the school year in Owasso and then in June of 1987, I went to live in Enid with my family. Mr. and Mrs. Teel gave me a big going-away party with all my friends and other kids who lived at the Home. One very special friend who was there was Barbara—she is one of Joanne Crain’s sisters. Barbara lived in Tulsa and met me when I still lived with my mother. She “rescued me” by helping get me in the Home and introducing me to her sister’s family. I am forever grateful that Barb took the time for me—a young girl who needed help. She spent time with me and introduced me to the right people—my new family and the Owasso Children’s Home. I am so thankful for people like Barb, Mr. and Mrs. Teel and my Mom and Dad who were available and willing to allow God to work through them to change a life like mine for the better.

I attended a small Christian high school. I graduated in 1990. And 10 days before I graduated, mom and dad had a baby boy they named Jonathan. I went to college that fall at Central College in McPherson, Kansas. God totally provided the money for me to go to college. I worked 10 hours a week and received financial aid to pay for school. Also, James Browning of the Oklahoma City Baptist Children’s Home, sent me money each month. In 1991, I was accepted into the Dental Hygiene program at Wichita State University. I graduated and passed the State Board in 1993. For a girl who had once failed the 9th grade, and was once told she should just drop out of high school, I graduated from high school and college! God certainly did have a hope and future for me—a loving family, a college degree, and even marriage. I met my wonderful and loving husband, Kevin, at church while attending WSU. We dated for two years, and have now been married for two years. Coming from a broken home, I really desired a Christian marriage. My husband and I know that Christ is the “glue” that makes our marriage stick together.

In October 1997, I have had the blessing of getting in contact with my biological father. After 15 years of not seeing or hearing from him, he has come back into my life and I have forgiven him. I had been praying about seeing him again, because I wanted him to know my story—to see how God has worked in my life....and he found me. We have been writing letters and talking on the phone and I hope to see him in person very soon. In my forgiveness towards my dad, I think he is seeing the forgiveness that Jesus offers all of us. God has been so good to me.

The memories I have of the Owasso Children’s Home will always be a treasure to me. When I tell people I once lived at a Children’s Home, I am always quick to tell them, “living at the Home was the best thing that could have happened to me; I met Jesus there.”

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