Learning and Growing
by Angela Sanders, Freelance Writer
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”- John 7:38 (ESV)
Enthusiastic and sincere, 13-year-old Craig has a passion for life that inspires, and his smile is contagious and warm. Although much of Craig’s demeanor can be attributed to personality, some can be attributed to what God has been doing in his life because of his coming to live at Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children (OBHC) three years ago.
“I’m from Kingston, Jamaica,” Craig begins. “We moved here when I was 10. My stepdad was a Navy Seal, and my mom wanted to spend her life with him, so she brought me with her. I was excited. I was like, ‘We’re going to the United States!’” Craig raises his arms and cheers silently. “Once we got here, though, things went left. He wasn’t a good father figure. Like, when I would come home from school and say, ‘I’m back!’ he would never acknowledge me, so I would go to my room and not come out.”
Craig continues, “I’m not really here at OBHC because of me. I’ve never run away. I’ve never done drugs. I just wanted to live in a safe environment. My mom brought me here because she thought it would be a nice, safe place where I could be loved, acknowledged and cared for. I thought at first it would be like a boot camp, but it wasn’t. I was kind of bummed out that I couldn’t have my phone, but now I think it’s a good thing. If I had it, I would just zone out instead of living my life.”
“I love it here,” Craig explains. “Being here taught me to believe in Christ. I went to church before, but I wouldn’t pay attention to the pastor. I would sleep, but now, I listen to every word. I pick up my Bible and turn to the chapter with everyone else. One time last year, the service felt different to me. I felt the urge to go to the front and be saved. It wasn’t that I was really ‘bad,’ but I knew I had sin. My houseparents, Mr. and Mrs. Ingraham helped me pray and become a Christian.”
“Finding Jesus changed me.” Craig can barely contain his smile. “Now I find positivity in each day,” Craig laughs.
“I’ve learned a lot about prayer here,” Craig says. “God answers prayers. My houseparents kept on telling me, ‘Just pray. Just keep praying,’ so I did and it helped. For instance, when I came here, I cried a lot because I couldn’t protect my mom. Every night, I was like, ‘God, please help her out of her situation,’ and He did. Three months ago, my mom got an apartment. As soon as she gets settled, we get to be together again!
“My houseparents also taught me to read my Bible more,” Craig says with a nod. “I never did that before, but now, I pick up the Bible before I go to bed. Me and my roommate do that. We read to ourselves on the same chapter and then talk about it. We ask the where, what, who questions and then read until we find the answers. I really like it.”
Craig is not sure what he wants to do for a vocation someday, but he is enjoying the welding program on campus and making the most of every moment he has left. “I love the director,” Craig says. “Mr. E is like a big brother to me. He’s really patient with everyone and takes the time to teach everyone what they need to know. He pays attention to everyone.”
Craig knows he will never forget his time at OBHC or stop missing the people who invested so much in him when he needed it. To those whose financial gifts made this very special time in his life possible, Craig offers sincere thanks with a huge smile. “I am so thankful for them,” Craig says.