Hero in the Making
by Angela Sanders, Freelance Writer
“Be strong and of good courage. Do not fear nor be afraid…for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
Looking every bit the teenage Wonder Woman, fourteen-year-old Keri possesses many of the same qualities. Tough, brave and charismatic, she is also compassionate and fiercely protective, connects with people easily and forms deep bonds. Thanks to the wise and patient adults of Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children (OBHC), Keri is happy, healthy and being equipped to use her gifts for the Kingdom.
Keri begins, “I like to play football! I can sing, too. I’m a soprano, and I sing in a choir. I like school, especially geography, because I have sort of a photographic memory, but being with my friends is my favorite. They give me a lot of confidence. I also love people. Their feelings come before mine, especially people older than me. If I see an elderly person, that makes my day. I just love them.”
“When I grow up, I want to be a firewoman,” Keri announces. “Everyone thinks it’s for boys, but it’s not. I would also like being a physical therapist, I think. I used to help my foster mom when she felt bad. It makes me feel good and inspires me to do that for other people.”
Keri came to live at OBHC nearly a year and a half ago. “My mom and her boyfriend were drug dealers. I went to the hospital after trying to kill myself by jumping out of a car. When it was time for me to leave the hospital, the counselor asked where I wanted to go, but I didn’t know. She asked if I wanted to come here. It turned out to be just like she explained it.
“Last summer, two of the girls who are Christians told me how to be saved,” Keri continues. “We prayed, and I was able to praise God for real. I started to read and understand my Bible. I got baptized. I’ve been able to grow more with my mom than I could before because now I know how to show grace.”
Keri loves living at OBHC. “I’m safe here,” Keri says, her voice suddenly soft with vulnerability. “I go to school every day. There’s always food on the table. There are lots of people around me I can lean on for help. I have everything.”
Keri has formed strong bonds with the houseparents she’s had. “I’m really close to the Hopkins. They are like a mom and dad to me, very sweet and caring. I talk to the Neelys all the time about everything—all of them are my go-to people. Then there are the Doyens.” Keri pauses to form a playful pout. “They aren’t houseparents anymore, but we still visit. They check on me. I love them.”
“I’ve learned a lot about relationships, like how to talk about my feelings instead of assuming no one cares, and how to grow spiritually. I’m learning what God expects from Christians. It’s not always easy to be what you need to be, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do, you know? I know how to read my Bible now and talk to God like a friend. I know I can put all my worries on Him.”
To those whose financial gifts make it possible for Keri to live at OBHC, she offers her most sincere gratitude. “My future is going to be good now,” she says with a confident smile. “I’m going to go to college and follow my dreams. Then I’m going to have a family and love each other.” For all her bravado, Keri begins to get a little emotional. “Thank you so much for everything. I wouldn’t have the life I have now without you.”